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Today in Japan (12.29.17)

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

Politics

—Toshihiro Nikai already openly campaigning for Shinzo Abe to be granted a third term as Liberal Democratic Party President from September 2018. This could allow Abe to remain Prime Minister until September 2021, so long as the ruling party keeps winning its national elections.

—Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan Secretary-General Tetsuro Fukuyama says the Democratic Party might as well stop asking them to form a unified parliamentary caucus because they are not interested in it. The progressive party has repeatedly stated it is going its own way.

International

—Russian Foreign Ministry’s Maria Zakharova says Japan’s purchase of Aegis Ashore system is a violation of US-Russia arms control treaty. She also says it “will impact in a negative way the whole atmosphere in bilateral relations, including negotiations over the peace treaty.”

—Continuing his bizarre rightwing stance of making Comfort Women history denial the centerpiece of his “diplomacy” toward South Korea, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe now considering a refusal to visit the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February.

—UN Security Council set to begin banning certain North Korean ships from entering the ports of member states. This is a measure to tighten oil sanctions against the country.

Asahi Shinbun editorial speaks sense on the military and constitutionalism: “Any Japanese plan to possess an aircraft carrier is unacceptable and would deviate from the nation’s long-established strictly defensive national security policy… We feel compelled to sound the alarm about the intentions of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration, which seems bent on gradually enhancing and upgrading Japan’s military capabilities by using the security threats posed by China and North Korea as pretexts.”

—About six hundred protestors gather in front of Ginowan City Hall demanding “safe skies” after a series of mishaps by US Marine aircraft flying from Futenma Air Base, which dominates the center of Ginowan City, Okinawa.

—Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga travels to Nago City, Okinawa, in attempt to boost pro-base challenger Taketoyo Toguchi in the upcoming mayoral race. As in previous years, top government officials will try to tip the balance in this local election.

Society

—Captain of North Korean fishing boat indicted for looting uninhabited island near Hokkaido. He will now be standing trial in Japan. Unclear yet what prosecutors have in mind for other two North Koreans that were arrested over the incident.

—Economic pressures from the rightwing government, including the denial of the standard educational subsidies, forcing closure of the Higashi-Osaka Korean Middle School, one of the largest Korean schools in the country.

—The outbound rush is on as public transportation networks are flooded with holidaygoers headed out of the Tokyo region en masse.

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