What we know about Abe’s murder

This is an audio transcription of the FT press briefing podcast episode: What we know about Abe’s murder

Marc Filipino
Hello from the Financial Times. Today is Tuesday, July 12, and it’s your FT News Briefing.

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We will see who are the favorites to replace British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. More details have emerged regarding the person accused of killing former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Moreover, Sri Lanka is mired in economic crisis and political chaos.

Marwan Macan-Markar
He basically, I think, destroyed a generation or two. And that’s the saddest part.

Marc Filipino
I’m Marc Filippino and here’s the news you need to start your day.

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Britain’s Tories are looking for someone to replace Boris Johnson. Eleven candidates have announced their intention to participate in the competition to become the next Prime Minister. Tomorrow, Conservative lawmakers plan to name two of them. I’m now joined by the FT’s Whitehall editor, Sebastian Payne, to talk about who MPs are loving right now. So Seb, who is the favourite? Is there one at this point?

Sebastien Payne
The first favorite is clearly Rishi Sunak, the former chancellor. It came out very early last Friday and it has been steadily gaining momentum ever since, getting the most number of MPs backing it. He’s been the bookmakers’ favorite, but second place is still very much in contention at the moment. Looks like it could be Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who officially launched her campaign on Monday and is likely speaking to the right of the Conservative Party. But it’s still very volatile. There are many other people in the running. It could be Penny Mordaunt, the former trade minister, slipping into second place, or it could also be and Attorney General Suella Braverman, who is appealing heavily to this wing of the party. But at this point, it looks like we might end up with a Sunak vs. Truss header.

Marc Filipino
So what issues will shape the race, Seb? What are you keeping an eye on?

Sebastien Payne
I think in the overall architecture of what matters in this race, taxes and expenses become the defining issue. And you would expect the UK to be in some sort of economic crisis right now and of course there is a cost of living crisis with food, fuel, everything skyrocketing. And the feeling that the government has not really got the situation under control. So I’m looking at what the economic plans are and how realistic they are, because all these tax cuts may look good, but they have to be funded from somewhere. And if it just piled that on the UK’s debt in the future, then that would only create more problems. But I think the thing you also need to look at is the remainder of the last two that will go to members of the Conservative Party. It’s almost a given, one will be Rishi Sunak and he’s kind of the center of the conservative party, which means the other niche is most likely someone from the right wing of the conservative party. And the battle for that vote is what’s going on in Westminster right now, with lots of haggling, debate and heated phone calls over who exactly is the best person on the right of the party to represent a pro-Brexit vision. aggressive tax cuts. it will no doubt go very well with members of the Conservative Party.

Marc Filipino
Seb Payne is the FT’s Whitehall Editor and host of the FT podcast, Payne’s Politics, which comes out every Saturday. Thanks, Seb.

Sebastien Payne
Thanks Mark.

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Marc Filipino
Chaos has gripped Sri Lanka. Tens of thousands of people marched through the capital this weekend. Some occupy the home of the country’s president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, and have even enjoyed a kind of pool party there.

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They forced the president into hiding and Rajapaksa announced that he would resign. The protesters were simply fed up with soaring gas prices and shortages and an economic crisis that led Sri Lanka to default on its external debt. Marwaan Macan-Markar covers Southeast Asia for our sister publication Nikkei Asia, and he describes Sri Lanka as a signal for a larger problem.

Marwan Macan-Markar
Sri Lanka is becoming the canary in the coal mine of what could become a global crisis of a large number of developing countries burdened with heavy debt, unable to pay that debt because of, you know, their own baggage laws, for example. Pakistan has a huge debt problem. There are a number of African countries that are also facing this crisis. The problem for Sri Lanka is that it does not have the luxury of this power vacuum continuing for several days because the country needs a stable government to negotiate with the IMF to establish steps towards an IMF program and receive billions of dollars from the IMF in financial assistance to revive the economy.

Marc Filipino
So Marwaan, this economic crisis in Sri Lanka has turned into a political crisis and now there is a political vacuum. What happens next? Who can replace Rajapaksa?

Marwan Macan-Markar
The only relatively neutral figure in all of this is probably the Speaker of the House of Parliament because he at least has the hearing of the people on the government and opposition benches. But he’s kind of a dull, colorless character. So I don’t know if he could be the one to settle into the presidential chair, but that’s a wild guess, and unfortunately it’s a problem that Sri Lanka cannot afford at this stage.

Marc Filipino
Now, in addition to following the story closely and reporting from the country, you are a Sri Lankan yourself. How does it feel to watch this story unfold?

Marwan Macan-Markar
Well, I think what is very sad is that Sri Lanka has been in the headlines for a series of crises. Worst of all, of course, was the nearly 30-year ethnic conflict between government troops and the Tamil Tigers. The country was also devastated by the 2004 tsunami. But I think what’s very disturbing about that is that it basically, I think, destroyed a generation or if not two. And that’s the saddest part, because I belong to a generation that came of age when the war broke out. And I think my generation and the one that followed also suffered in the same way that your hopes and dreams would not have been realized because of the crisis, the political and ethnic crisis. And now you have an economic crisis. And the number of people fleeing the country applying for passports is basically a measure of desperation. And that means we’re going to see, as I said, a generation or if not two take the beating because of the political class that has unfortunately led the country to economic ruin.

Marc Filipino
Marwaan Macan-Markar covers South East Asia for FT sister company Nikkei Asia. Thank you Marwan.

Marwan Macan-Markar
Thanks.

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Marc Filipino
Japan is still reeling from the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last week. Investigators are gathering clues as to why this happened. But the assassination highlighted the connection between Abe’s party, the LDP and the Unification Church of South Korea. It is known as the Moonies and is widely derided as a cult. Here’s the FT’s Kana Inagaki with new details about the alleged shooter.

Kana Inagaki
He reportedly said that his mother made large financial donations to the group and that this caused financial hardship for the household. The suspect actually allegedly told investigators that he targeted Abe because he was the grandson of someone he believes played a role in bringing the Moonies to Japan. Some of the powerful political figures in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party are known to have ties to the Moonies. Abe himself is not a member of the organization, but it is common knowledge that he has given speeches at their events. It is an open secret in Japan that there is a relationship between LDP politicians and the Moonies. You know, they’re also very useful for collecting votes for the LDP, but nobody really talked about them in the past.

Marc Filipino
So Kana, two days after Abe’s assassination, his party, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, LDP, won a landslide victory in the upper house elections. What kind of impact will Abe’s assassination have on the party and its policies, if any?

Kana Inagaki
Abe is so influential that even after stepping down as prime minister, he basically had a lot of influence over politics in general, from the economy to foreign policy. But for, you know, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, some analysts say it’s actually going to give him a freer hand to pursue his own policies, because Abe has such great influence even after stepping down as prime minister. So with his death, some people assume that, you know, Kishida would be able to bring some of his own color to his economic program as well as his foreign policy.

Marc Filipino
Kana Inagaki is the FT’s Tokyo bureau chief.

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Before we go, we’re curious about remote work, so we’re hoping to hear from listeners who moved to a new location after their employer gave them the green light to work remotely. We are particularly interested in hearing from our American listeners. So please send us a voice memo explaining why you moved, where you moved from and how you feel about your new work-life balance. Send it to [email protected] This is [email protected] We’ll leave that email in the show notes and maybe feature you in a future episode.

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You can read more about all these stories on FT.com. This has been your daily press briefing on FT. Be sure to check back tomorrow for the latest trade news.

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