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Today in Japan (12.31.17)

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

Politics

—Some in the Party of Hope want a unified parliamentary caucus with the Democratic Party to be conditional upon Katsuya Okada and Yoshihiko Noda being excluded. They don’t want to associate with well-known and failed opposition leaders of the past.

—Executives of the Party of Hope and the Democratic Party to meet in Nagoya on January 3rd to discuss the formation of a unified parliamentary caucus.

International

—Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga waves around the carrot of economic incentives upon his visit to Nago, Okinawa: “The government will see that the residents’ living environment is protected and that measures are taken to promote the regional economy.”

—An aide to Shinzo Abe tells Jiji Press, “It is now impossible for the prime minister to visit South Korea” after President Moon Jae-In cast doubt on 2015 Comfort Women agreement. (Of course, it would be possible if Abe wasn’t wedded to the rightwing ideology of denying history.)

—Most of the board members of Reconciliation and Healing Foundation, charged with using Japanese money to aid surviving Korean Comfort Women, resign their posts. This might represent a full breakdown of the 2015 Japan-South Korea Comfort Women agreement.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe taking personal charge of leading government discussions on Japan’s military response in the event a war breaks out on the Korean Peninsula. Why not? He clearly enjoys such subjects much more than thinking about economic policies.

—Liberal Democratic Party Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai breaks ranks with the Abe government and insists that direct talks with North Korea are needed. Nikai is a consistent advocate of repairing Japan’s relations with mainland Asia, the opposite of his party leader.

Economy

—Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) to select Hiroaki Nakanishi of Hitachi as its next chairman, replacing the incumbent Sadayuki Sakakibara. Both men are mainly noted for their close ties with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Society

—Today is the final day of operations for Space World, the theme park in Kitakyushu city that opened in 1990 and had been considered one of the city’s main tourist attractions.

—A fire broke out in the shopping district of Shibuya. No one died in the blaze. Two men were injured, including a man in his 60s who was forced to jump to the rooftop next door and broke a bone in his shoulder area. Fire started on second floor in bar owned by a man in his 30s.

Note: There was no “Today in Japan” report issued on December 30.

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