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Today in Japan (12.22.17)

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

Politics

—Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan’s Yukio Edano explains, again, that his party is willing to work with other opposition parties where they have common interests, but his progressive party is not going to water down policies just to group together with more conservative politicians.

—Yoshifu Arita, Naoki Kazama, and now Takashi Esaki: A third House of Councillors lawmaker applies to resign from the Democratic Party and to join the progressive Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan. If all are accepted, this will give the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan five Upper House lawmakers.

—Liberal Democratic Party to back incumbent Hodo Nakamura for reelection in the February 4th Nagasaki gubernatorial elections.

—Party of Hope expected to finally establish its first prefectural chapter in January. This is to be the Aichi Chapter under the leadership of Motohisa Furukawa. Moves are underway in Kyoto Prefecture as well.

—The conservative Party of Hope is signaling that, unlike the progressive Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, it is open to the possibility of forming a united parliamentary caucus with the struggling centrist Democratic Party.

International

—To its credit, Japan was among the 128 countries in the UN General Assembly which voted to condemn the Trump administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, in advance of any direct settlement between the Israelis and Palestinians themselves.

—US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley: “We will remember [this day] when we are called upon to make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations. We will remember it when so many countries come calling on us, as they so often do, to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit.” With that, the US Ambassador to the United Nations threatened the entire world with retribution for not bowing down and obeying Donald Trump’s commands regarding the Arab-Israeli Conflict. For once, Japan showed a hint of backbone and didn’t surrender to the US threats.

—Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga explains why Japan braved Nikki Haley’s outrageous threats and voted in the United Nations against Trump’s decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem: “This is something the Israelis and Palestinians need to decide between themselves.”

—The Abe government military budget for FY2018 is a record US$47 billion, including massive purchases from the United States of anti-missile systems.

—Abe government budget calls for about US$1.8 billion on the “sympathy budget,” the money to support US military bases in Japan, thus reducing the costs for US taxpayers.

—Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga describes it as “extremely regrettable” that the Abe government is cutting the Okinawa economic development budget for second year in a row, apparently as punishment for resisting the construction of the US Marine airbase at Henoko.

Economy

—Kobe Steel finally admits that some of its senior executives knew all along about the falsification of data about the strength of their metal. They say the executives in question have been “reassigned.” Whatever that means.

—Cabinet Office estimates that the Japan-European Union trade agreement, once implemented and up to speed, will add about 1% annually to the Gross Domestic Product.

—Abe Cabinet approves an US$860 billion budget for submission to next year’s Diet session. As in every year since Shinzo Abe returned to power, the budget is the largest ever as his government tries to spend the economy back to stable growth.

Society

—J-Village, near the Fukushima Daiichi plant, is scheduled to reopen in summer 2018 and be used to accommodate foreign athletes at the 2019 Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

—Tomorrow, December 23, is a national holiday because it is the birthday of Emperor Akihito. Next year, however, may become the last December 23 holiday because after Akihito abdicates his birthday is likely to become an ordinary work day. Naruhito’s birthday is February 23.

—Music schools are still battling JASRAC over its demand they pay copyright fees to teach their students music. The schools appealed to Cultural Affairs Agency Commissioner Ryohei Miyata to stop JASRAC from collecting any fees until a lawsuit settles the legality of the matter.

—William H. Saito, a government advisor and a very prominent commentator on cybersecurity and other matters, has resigned from his official posts after questions were raised about resume falsification and whether he actually holds the qualifications he has advertised.

—Fewer babies have been born in Japan this year than in any other year of either the 21st or even the 20th century. You now have to go back to the 19th century since so few babies were being born in Japan.

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