The World This Week

JAPAN'S Prime Minister, Kiichi Miyazawa, fights this week to restore authority over his country's government and its ruling party, both battered by scandal. Coming days see important hearings on the Sagawa money-and-mobsters affair, the announcement of a political reform package and a cabinet reshuffle to revive the fortunes of his unpopular government.

Noboru Takeshita, the former prime minister and grandee of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), appears before parliament today for the second time to face interrogation about his alleged links to organised crime. He is followed tomorrow by two former executives of Sagawa Kyubin, the trucking company at the heart of the scandal. On Friday, an aide to the disgraced LDP powerbroker Shin Kanemaru is to be questioned on what happened to the dollars 4m ( pounds 2.5m) his boss took in illegal donations from Sagawa Kyubin.

The LDP meanwhile announces on Wednesday measures to clean up the political system and prevent more illegal funding scandals - three of which have rocked the party since 1988 - undermining confidence in the party that has ruled Japan since 1955.

And on Saturday Mr Miyazawa reshuffles his cabinet. The appointments will be scrutinised for evidence of the Prime Minister's reforming intentions. He is expected to appoint a new finance minister, probably Yoshiro Mori, to deal with Japan's economic downturn. Keenly awaited by the public is the appointment of justice minister: after the uproar at the casual way state prosecutors handled the Sagawa scandal, Mr Miyazawa is under intense pressure to appoint a Mr Clean. This could be Hyosuke Kujiraoka, a party veteran who recently declared he was disillusioned by factional manoeuvring and corrupt practices.

Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli Prime Minister, visits Rome today on a European tour that brings him to London tomorrow. On Wednesday he lunches with John Major and addresses MPs. The trip comes as the Middle East peace talks resume in Washington today for two weeks. Palestinians want the United States to intervene more forcefully and put more pressure on Israel, but serious attempts to make progress are likely to be put on ice until Bill Clinton takes office in January.

Nato defence ministers meet in Brussels on Thursday and Friday and are expected to make a final decision on the European Fighter Aircraft project. And European heads of government meet for an EC summit in Edinburgh on Friday and Saturday.

Thursday is Human Rights Day, the day when the Nobel Peace Prize will be awarded in Oslo to Guatemala's indigenous rights activist Rigoberta Menchu.

Elections take place today for 12 seats in the House of Assembly in Tobago. The island has been linked with Trinidad in a unitary state since 1889, but Tobagonians complain they are being neglected by the central government, prompting talk of secession among the 44,000 islanders.

Giorgio Strehler, Italy's greatest theatre director, appears in court in Milan on Thursday accused of embezzling pounds 300,000 of an EC grant he was given to fund courses for aspiring actors and theatre technicians at his Piccolo Teatro in Milan. The maestro is accused not of pocketing the money, but of frittering it away on telephone bills, cleaning the theatre and costumes for a recent production of Faust.

Another example of a show- business initiative turning sour is the 42nd Miss World contest on Saturday at Sun City, the gamblers' pleasure resort in the South African 'homeland' of Bophuthatswana. Eighty-four contestants will take part - though none from the homeland itself. The African National Congress says it will disrupt the event unless free political activities are allowed in Bophuthatswana.

Also kicking out against intolerance, Italy's football players are to carry banners denouncing racism on to the pitches before matches on Sunday. They are alarmed by a rise of right-wing violence orchestrated on the terraces by shaven- headed 'naziskins'.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all