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Abe Tired of Answering Lawmaker Questions

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

The Top Headline

—Shinzo Abe continues his campaign to chip away at Japan’s democratic norms and create an imperial prime ministership. After demanding less time for opposition party questions, now he wants to spend less time answering direct questions in the Diet altogether.

Politics

—It remains unclear if anyone plans to run for Social Democratic Party leadership post. Some kind of announcement likely later today, as this is the deadline.

—Social Democratic Party delays their leadership election campaign start to January 26 since there were no candidates by today’s deadline. Most attention still seems to be focused on Tadatomo Yoshida, even though he says he wants to step down as party leader.

International

—Donald Trump tells the Wall Street Journal once again how potent and consequential he is: “I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong-Un. I have relationships with people. I think you people are surprised.”

—Russian President Vladimir Putin dismisses idea Kim Jong-Un is a madman: “I think that Mr Kim Jong-Un has obviously won this round. He has completed his strategic task: he has a nuclear weapon, he has missiles of global reach… He is already a shrewd and mature politician.”

—Shinzo Abe bluntly rejects Moon Jae-In’s suggestion he should make “a heartfelt apology” to victims of the Comfort Women system as a means to settle the issue. Abe insists the issue is already settled, and all South Korea needs to do is be quiet and implement the 2015 agreement.

Korea Herald: “Tokyo is putting pressure on South Korea over the accord, but for the future of Korea-Japan relations, it should look back to its past and ponder why the deal faces opposition and backlash… Japan must know it is not the dispensation of funds but compensation that acknowledges its legal responsibility that former comfort women have demanded incessantly… If Japan wants to be respected in the international community as a country that does not turn away from history the government in Tokyo must heed reasonable calls for a proper settlement… In anyone’s book, Tokyo’s tenacity in emphasizing the finality of the deal will be seen as a move intended to conceal what it wants to for good. It is not the right attitude toward history. Now is the time to show a mature attitude toward historical truths.”

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has departed Japan on his six-nation tour of Eastern Europe. He is scheduled to return to Japan on January 17.

—Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike says she’s not going to attend the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, saying that there’s no particular reason why she needs to attend since it isn’t a summer Olympics.

—Ruling coalition Komeito party calls for US Marine helicopter flights in Okinawa to be suspended until an explanation is given to Japan about why the series of accidents has continued.

Economy

—METI Minister Hiroshige Seko rejects plan by former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi for Japan to quickly go non-nuclear. According to Seko, his strongly pro-nuclear views represent “a responsible energy policy” in contrast to the presumably irresponsible anti-nuclear stance.

—Next round of TPP 11 negotiations being set for late January in Tokyo. Abe government wants the negotiations successfully wrapped up by early March.

—The figures are in, and Japan is confirmed to have hosted about 28.7 million foreign tourists last year. That represents an almost 20% jump over the previous year. This one sector of the Japanese economy is like no other, growing by leaps and bounds every year.

Society

—Justice Ministry to begin implementing from next week its new policies of summarily dismissing many or most refugee status applications from foreigners.

—Pew Research Center reports that about 55% of the Japanese public feels that the domestic news media covers political issues fairly.

—Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko planning to tour Okinawa in late March, including an unprecedented visit to Yonaguni island.

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