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Opposition Party Merger Plan Collapses

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

The Top Headline

—Party of Hope – Democratic Party agreement to form a unified parliamentary caucus has fallen apart after fierce resistance from the backbenchers. The general meetings of lawmakers in both parties were reportedly little short of a car wreck as both party leaderships faced internal revolts that they couldn’t manage. Party of Hope says negotiations with the Democratic Party are now suspended, which is apparently a desperate measure to avert the split in the party that would have seen five or more mostly rightwing lawmakers form a new political party. Meanwhile, Katsuya Okada and Yoshihiko Noda of the Democratic Party make clear that they have neither forgotten nor forgiven the Party of Hope for its “exclusion” of them from potential party membership under Seiji Maehara’s ill-fated maneuvers ahead of the October 2017 election. It’s thus now confirmed that the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan will remain the leading opposition force heading into the Ordinary Diet Session on January 22.

Politics

—Now that they have gathered six upper house lawmakers, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan applies to form its own parliamentary caucus in the House of Councillors.

International

—The Nago mayoral elections. How the US-Japan Alliance Establishment will react. Inamine loses! The voice of the people has spoken! Inamine wins: The election doesn’t matter anyway.

—The secretary-generals of the two ruling coalition parties jointly urge Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to attend the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. They are both more sensitive to the need for good relations with East Asia than is the hawkish and ideology-fueled Abe team.

—Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga says the decision whether or not Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will attend the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics will be made immediately before the opening ceremony on February 9. Suga claims this is because the Diet schedule is important.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is now back in Japan after his six-country tour of Eastern Europe.

—Shunned by the Abe government, Beatrice Fihn of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons given a hero’s welcome by the Japanese political left and progressives. Here is a photo from Japan Communist Party leader Kazuo Shii.

—North and South Korean delegations to enter the opening ceremony of Pyeongchang Winter Olympics together under a single flag, symbolizing their mutual goal of peacefully reunifying the Korean Peninsula.

Economy

—The July 1988 US-Japan agreement on “Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy” automatically renews for an indefinite period after neither Washington nor Tokyo request any revisions.

—Kajima Corporation, Taisei Corporation, and Shimizu Corporation deny illegal bid-rigging over the Central Japan Railway Company’s Tokyo-Nagoya maglev project. This contradicts Obayashi Corporation, which has admitted guilt and applied to the authorities for leniency.

Society

—The Japanese government at last appears to be digitizing its operations and making physical visits to the city office, etc., less necessary. What’s next? The end of the fax machine? We’ll believe it when we see it.

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