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Today in Japan (12.20.17)

SNA (Tokyo) — The following stories were reported today by the Shingetsu News Agency.

Politics

—Party of Hope to delay its internal discussions about revising Article Nine of the Constitution, worried about the deep philosophical divisions among its own lawmakers which they don’t want to exacerbate.

—Katsuya Okada rejects the idea that forming a new political party will somehow restore popularity. He says the Democratic Party must simply pull together as best as it can and fight to keep its ground. Meanwhile, Democratic Party lawmakers continue to argue among themselves.

International

—China Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Hua Chunying: “We urge the United States to stop deliberately distorting China’s strategic intentions and abandon a Cold War mentality, otherwise it will injure others and damage itself.”

—Foreign Minister Taro Kono and South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-Wha held three hours of talks in Tokyo today. While it is not known exactly what was said, about half of the discussion was about North Korea and the other half about troubled Japan-South Korea relations.

—Japan Foreign Ministry “denounces North Korea’s involvement behind the ‘WannaCry’ incidents,” and states, “Japan supports the announcement of the United States demonstrating its firm determination towards ensuring the security of cyberspace.”

—Nutwatch! Toru Kurosawa of the Sankei Shinbun asks the penetrating question about the North Korean ghost ships showing up on Japanese coasts: “Are these really fishing boats, or are they spy ships?” Yes! Exactly! Pyongyang is sending its versions of 007 to starve and die at sea! Insidious!

—Japanese government sends message of concern to the government of Myanmar over its arrest of two Reuters journalists. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga comments: “Freedom of expression, basic human rights, and the rule of law are universal values.”

—The ruling Liberal Democratic Party appears close to launching internal discussions on revising US Status of Forces Agreement after serial cases in which US military has failed to provide adequate information about accidents and other matters.

—Trump appointments: Susan Thornton to be promoted to Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs; Victor Cha expected to be tapped as US Ambassador to South Korea.

Economy

—Finance Minister Taro Aso isn’t buying into the bitcoin craze: “It has not yet been proven to be credible enough to become a currency, so I need to watch for a little while more.”

—Kansai Electric Power Company decides to decommission Oi No.1 and No. 2 nuclear reactors, judging that it would be too expensive to try to bring them up to standards for restarts.

—Newly declassified records from 1986 show the then-Nakasone government worked hard at the G7 Summit in Tokyo to ensure Chernobyl disaster did not affect the pro-nuclear stance of meeting statement: One small brick of hubris that eventually created the Fukushima Daiichi disaster.

Society

—The date for moving the Tokyo fish market from Tsukiji to Toyosu set at October 11, 2018.

—Hokkaido police extend custody of three North Korean fishermen who apparently looted an uninhabited island. They have until the 30th to decide whether or not to charge them with a crime.

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