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Abe Ignores Korean Peace Initiatives

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

The Top Headline

—In his New Year’s address, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe completely ignored the dramatic developments of the past few days on the Korean Peninsula and offered a hawkish speech that sounded all his usual themes of imminent danger and a need to rewrite Article Nine of the Constitution. The last thing that Shinzo Abe wanted was a peace initiative from North Korea. Precisely at the time he is trying to mobilize public fears to promote his lifetime goal of revising the Constitution, damn Kim Jong-Un comes along and starts offering the hand of friendship to Seoul!

Politics

—Democratic Party Secretary-General Teruhiko Mashiko says the party will rebuild so as to stop the overwhelming political dominance of Shinzo Abe. (Abe may or may not be stopped, but it’s hard to believe that the Democratic Party will have anything to do with it.)

—Japan Communist Party leader Kazuo Shii admits that the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan is “one step ahead” of everyone else in their effective use of social media. He says the Communist Party needs to catch up and do better at attracting young people to its banner.

—Takeshi Imamura, mayor of Nishinomiya City, Hyogo Prefecture, yelled at a Yomiuri Shinbun reporter at a press conference this morning, “I will kill you!” Imamura was announcing that he wouldn’t be running for reelection and we can suppose he wasn’t happy with Yomiuri reporting.

—Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan leader Yukio Edano asked, once again, about forming united parliamentary caucus with other opposition parties. His answer: “Our principles and policies are different from the Party of Hope. We’re done with this talk.”

International

—Sarah Huckabee Sanders says not to worry about Trump’s competence: “The president and the people of this country should be concerned about the mental fitness of the leader of North Korea. He’s made repeated threats, he’s tested missiles time and time again for years.”

—So, does the new rift between Donald Trump and Steve Bannon mean that Abe government officials will stop showering attentions upon Bannon as if he were a representative of the US government?

—South Korean President Moon Jae-In meeting today with a group of surviving Comfort Women, thought to be in part a signal that he will eventually seek a renegotiation of the 2015 pact with Japan.

—Unbelievable! The Abe government actually sends a diplomatic note of protest about South Korean President Moon Jae-In’s decision to personally meet elderly citizens of his own nation, the surviving Comfort Women.

—South Korean President Moon Jae-In to former Comfort Women: “As President I apologize to you all for our country making an agreement with Japan that didn’t listen to your opinions and was implemented against your will.”

—Lee Do-Hoon, Seoul’s Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs, holds telephone calls with Joseph Yun, US Special Representative for North Korea Policy; and Kenji Kanasugi, Director-General of the Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau.

—General Vincent K. Brooks, commander of US Forces Korea, tells an audience in Seoul, “We can be generally pleased by the recent overtures that happened, but we must keep our expectations at the appropriate level.”

—Donald Trump assures the world that the thaw in relations between North Korea and South Korea is, like all good things on this planet, something that He has bestowed upon us: “With all of the failed ‘experts’ weighing in, does anybody really believe that talks and dialogue would be going on between North and South Korea right now if I wasn’t firm, strong and willing to commit our total ‘might’ against the North. Fools, but talks are a good thing!”

—Following Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, now ruling party Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai visits the little city of Nago (pop. 60,000) to demand the local people obey orders from Tokyo and vote for a new mayor that supports US military bases in Okinawa.

Society

—As of today, Japanese banks have linked up with a database maintained by the National Police Agency that tracks yakuza members. The purpose is to help the banks identify yakuza and prevent them from opening bank accounts.

—Safety Driving: National Police Agency reports that 3,694 died in traffic accidents across Japan in 2017, which is a record low since figures began to be compiled in 1948. The deadliest year was 1970, when fatalities peaked at 16,765.

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