Aso rejects call to dissolve lower house of parliament; Japan reiterates its commitments to help India fight terrorism; China-Japan tension over islands in East China Sea
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  • Prime Minister Taro Aso, in his first parliamentary face-off with opposition leader Ichiro Ozawa, rejected a call to dissolve the lower house of parliament in December. He asserted that the government cannot afford a political vacuum in the face of the global financial turmoil1. Aso also called for a departure from the reformist fiscal policies pursued by former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, in view of the economic recession and low public approval ratings for such a policy2.

    Prime Minister Taro Aso called up his Indian counterpart Dr. Manmohan Singh in the wake of the Mumbai terrorist attacks and reiterated Japanese cooperation on fighting the scourge of terrorism3.

    Meanwhile, reports noted that the appointment of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State by President-elect Barack Obama has generated mixed responses in Japan. Reports noted that some analysts were concerned abut her focus on China and speculated whether American relations with Japan would be as lukewarm as they were under former President Bill Clinton4.

    In other developments, a 70-member unit of Japan's Air Self-Defense Force was sent to Kuwait in order to lay the groundwork for the withdrawal of Japanese forces from Iraq5. In a sign of tension, Japan asked two Chinese research ships to leave waters which it contends were its own sovereign space. This was revealed by Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura . The islands in the East China Sea, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyutai in China, are controlled by Japan but claimed by Japan, China as well as Taiwan6.