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Daily Brief: Japan's Abe Wins Big in Snap Election


Council on Foreign Relations Newsletter If you are unable to see the message below, click here to view. October 23, 2017 Daily News Brief   TOP OF THE AGENDA Japan's Abe Wins Big in Snap Election Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's party claimed sweeping victory in a snap election on Sunday, with media tallies indicating the ruling Liberal Democratic Party reaching the two-thirds mark in parliament (NYT). The win is a boost for Abe's push to rewrite Japan's postwar, pacifist constitution (Japan Times) by 2020, which would require majority support in both houses of parliament. U.S. President Donald J. Trump and Abe agreed to increase pressure on North Korea (DW) in a phone call following the election. Final results are expected to be announced on Monday as a typhoon prevented vote-counting in some districts. ANALYSIS "The constellation of political parties in this election now reveals without a doubt that Japan is on its way to a serious deliberation on constitutional revision," writes CFR's Sheila A. Smith. "With a renewed mandate for his signature Abenomics policy and the ruling coalition now holding a majority on every standing committee in the lower house, the prime minister will likely press ahead with fiscal spending and plans to divert increased consumption tax revenue toward providing free education," writes the Nikkei Asian Review. "Several challenges remain, including dealing with a rapidly aging workforce, stubborn deflation, and stagnant wages," Isabel Reynolds and Emi Nobuhiro write for Bloomberg. PACIFIC RIM Mattis in Philippines to Discuss North Korea U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis arrived in the Philippines for a meeting with his Japanese, Philippine, and South Korean counterparts to discuss the North Korean weapons threat (WSJ). Regarding a siege on the city of Marawi to oust Islamic State-linked militants, Mattis said Philippine forces sent a "very necessary message" (NYT) to terrorists. A CFR panel discussed U.S. options regarding North Korea. SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA Indian FM Rebukes Myanmar Over Rohingya Exodus The foreign minister said on Sunday that Myanmar "must take back" its nationals and that neighboring Bangladesh has suffered a "big burden" (AP) since nearly six hundred thousand Rohingya Muslim refugees fled Myanmar following an August crackdown by security forces. Eric P. Schwartz of Refugees International discussed his recent trip to Myanmar at this CFR event. AFGHANISTAN: The U.S. State Department said the number of Afghan security forces who go absent without authorized leave (RFE/RL) during training in the United States is "unacceptably high." A U.S. watchdog reported on Friday that nearly half of the 320 personnel who did so from 2005 to 2017 were Afghan. MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA Tillerson: Shia Militias in Iraq 'Must' Return Home U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that Iranian-backed militias who have been fighting the self-proclaimed Islamic State (BBC) in Iraq "must go home" as the battle there nears its end. Tillerson spoke from Saudi Arabia during an inaugural meeting to improve ties between Iraq and Saudi Arabia (VOA). SYRIA: Russia accused the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State on Sunday of bombing the city of Raqqa "off the face of the earth" (Al Jazeera), comparing the air strike campaign to the bombing of Germany's Dresden by Allied forces in World War II. This CFR Backgrounder looks at what's at stake in post-ISIS Iraq and Syria. SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA Twelve Nigerien Troops Killed Near Mali Border Nigerien officials say gunmen killed on Saturday a dozen paramilitary police in the country's southwest near the border with Mali, the same area where four U.S. soldiers were killed (WSJ) in an October 4 ambush. ZIMBABWE: The World Health Organization has canceled its appointment of President Robert Mugabe (BBC), who has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980, as a goodwill ambassador following international outcry over the announcement. EUROPE Czech Billionaire's Populist Party Wins by Large Margin The ANO party of Andrej Babis, Czech Republic's second-richest man, won nearly 30 percent of votes (BBC) in a general election this weekend, three times as much as its nearest rival. Babis opposes joining the eurozone (Bloomberg) and has criticized European immigration policy. ITALY: The wealthy northern regions of Veneto and Lombardy overwhelmingly voted in favor of greater autonomy (Guardian) in polls held Sunday.  AMERICAS Argentine Leader Boosted by Midterm Vote President Mauricio Macri's center-right government won a sweeping victory in congressional midterm elections on Sunday, though his party fell short of an overall majority (BBC). Former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner won a seat in the Senate, granting her immunity from corruption charges. HONDURAS: A video released under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act suggests the Drug Enforcement Agency misrepresented the circumstances of a 2012 antidrug operation (NYT) by U.S. and Honduran forces in which four Honduran civilians died.  UNITED STATES Lawmakers Call for Details on Troop Deaths in Niger Senators from both parties have called for the White House to detail U.S. troop activities in Niger following the deaths of four U.S. servicemen in an ambush earlier this month. Republican Lindsey Graham and Democrat Chuck Schumer both said they were unaware of the number of troops (VOA) the United States has in the country.         Council on Foreign Relations — 58 East 68th Street — New York, NY 10065 CFR does not share email addresses with third parties. 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Date: October 23, 2017 at 09:58PM