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Japan “Won’t Move a Millimeter” on Comfort Women Policy

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

The Top Headline

—Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga responds to idea that terms of 2015 Comfort Women agreement with South Korea might be revised: “Japan’s position is that we won’t be moved even a millimeter.” It’s a whole different world from the way they approach the United States.

Politics

—At ruling party gathering, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declares regarding Constitution revision: “We must change with the times while also holding firmly to our ideals. It is our historical mission to discuss revisions.”

—Japan Communist Party chief Kazuo Shii names the other parties with which he is willing to coordinate candidates: Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, Social Democratic Party, Liberal Party, and the Democratic Party. (Not on the list is the Party of Hope and the Japan Innovation Party.)

—As part of its upgraded digitalization efforts, the Japan Communist Party begins using Line to conduct policy discussions with its supporters. Full digitalization of the Akahata newspaper is scheduled to launch in July.

—Democratic Party pressing ahead with effort to again (and again) ask the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan to join with them and the Party of Hope in a united parliamentary caucus. We’re not sure how many different ways Yukio Edano can say “Hell NO!”

—Rengo chief Rikio Kozu desperately pleading for the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, Party of Hope, and Democratic Party to tie up into a tight alliance. Presumably, he fears the rise of a seriously progressive Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan forcing his labor union federation to clarify its own political stances.

International

—South Korea has reportedly convinced the United States to suspend military exercises near North Korea for the duration of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, a measure intended to cool tensions.

—North Korea informs South Korea that it agrees to hold direct high-level talks next Tuesday, January 9, to discuss bilateral ties and the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

—Moon Jae-In: “We will closely consult with the United States in the process of South-North Korea dialogue and we are confident that South-North Korea dialogue will help create an atmosphere for dialogue between the US and North Korea on resolving the North Korean nuclear issue.”

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announces he will be going on a six-nation tour of Eastern Europe next week: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Romania.

Asahi Shinbun Editorial: “The shift in North Korea’s attitude, even if it is only surface deep, opens a window of opportunity. Tokyo and Washington need to make astute diplomatic moves based on their unity to prod North Korea into seeking dialogue with them as well.”

—Has any establishment analyst out there considered the possibility that it is, in fact, the Abe government’s “not move a millimeter” stance and the sheer insanity of the Trump administration that is the real threat “driving a wedge into the alliance between Seoul and Washington”?

—Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga to make a four-day visit to Guam from January 10, exchanging views on US military basing issues with Guam Governor Eddie Calvo and others.

—Predictably, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga’s main response to peace moves on the Korean Peninsula is not to welcome them, but only to warn that nothing must be done to reduce pressure on North Korea.

—Japanese Foreign Ministry tells the Japanese media that any talks between North and South Korea should be strictly limited to cooperating on the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. The Abe government is not interested in any broad rapprochement.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe personally calls on coalition partner Komeito to offer its full support in the effort to overthrow anti-base Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine in the February 4 elections. Even the head of state trying to intervene against the mayor of a small town of 60,000.

Economy

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe tells the leaders of the big business organizations that he wants them to raise wages by 3% this year.

—Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Shigeru Ishiba downplays the results of Abenomics. He asks whether high stock prices and a lower yen necessarily mean that ordinary Japanese are prospering, or are the regional Japanese economies booming.

Society

—Nishinomiya Mayor Takeshi Imamura apologizes for verbally threatening to kill a Yomiuri Shinbun reporter at his press conference yesterday.

—Japan Meteorological Agency confirms that this morning’s quake false alarm, which startled many people, was caused by two minor quakes that occurred at the same time, thus tricking the system into thinking it was a single, very big quake that was hitting.

—Among the Japanese startled by this morning’s earthquake warning was Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. He was photographed pulling out his phone and looking with concern at the text regarding the quake.

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