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Daily Archives: August 15, 2009

Japan opposition keeps strong lead ahead of election

The main opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) has kept a comfortable lead over the ruling party ahead of a general election at the end of the month, a survey showed yesterday.
In the latest poll by Jiji Press, 35.9 percent of respondents said they would vote for the DPJ in the proportional representation part of the election, against 18.8 percent who planned to vote for the Liberal Democratic Party.
The ruling conservative Liberal Democratic Party, which has governed Japan nearly continuously since 1955, has lost popularity as the Japanese economy has taken a dive amid the global crisis.
Prime Minister Taro Aso, the party's third leader in three years, has also lost support due to his own gaffes, while the DPJ has gained momentum and is now eyeing to take the government with promises of sweeping reforms.
When Jiji Press asked which politician would be most qualified to serve as the next prime minister, 33.5 percent of participants named DPJ leader Yukio Hatoyama, while Aso received support from only 16.0 percent.
The news agency polled 2,000 people from Friday through Monday and said it received valid answers from 64.9 percent of those contacted.

Iraqi journalists protest ‘intimidation and threats’

Hundreds of Iraqi journalists and intellectuals marched through Baghdad yesterday to protest "intimidation and threats" against the war-torn country's press.
Watched over by heavy security, the protest was the first of its kind by journalists since the overthrow of dictator Saddam Hussein in a 2003 US-led invasion.
"Journalists and media workers have lost 247 of their colleagues over the past six years because of attacks and violations," journalist and writer Emad al-Khafaji told the crowd.
"The participants in this demonstration have confirmed they will not back down in the face of intimidation and threats."
The crowd, carrying banners through the heart of the capital's cultural district, shouted: "Yes, yes to freedom; no, no to being muzzled."
The protest was called by the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory in response to violent "threats" made by top Shiite leader Jalal Eddin Saghir earlier this month in a war of words over a deadly bank heist in the capital last month.
Saghir, a leader of the formerly Iran-based Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council, is accused of making violent threats against journalist Ahmad Abdel Hussein during a Friday sermon over an article in the state-run Al-Sabah newspaper alleging SIIC links to the robbery.
The July 28 raid in central Baghdad, in which eight guards were killed and 3.8 million dollars stolen, became a political football after it was revealed the alleged leader of the gang was a bodyguard of Vice President Adel Abdel Mehdi, an SIIC leader.
Hussein's August 4 article said the SIIC could have staged the robbery to raise money for national elections in January 2010.
Journalists and writers have also voiced concern over rules passed last month allowing the government to screen imported publications as well as a bill to block Internet sites containing "sectarianism, terrorism and immorality".
The moves have sparked fears of a return to Saddam-era censorship.
Iraq is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists, according to advocacy group Reporters Without Borders.