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The Deplorables: Marines Continue Flights over Okinawa School

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

The Top Headline

—Okinawans outraged as US Marines again fly helicopters over Futenma No. 2 Elementary School, in spite of promises to stop doing so unless it was unavoidable. This is the same school upon which a Marine helicopter dropped a window less than a month ago near where children played. The Abe government, facing mayoral elections in Nago and getting no help whatsoever from hell-if-we-care US Marines at Futenma, denounce the helicopter flight: “It’s deplorable that this has happened even though we’ve requested firmly that the US not fly above the school.” US Marines at Futenma now deny that three of their helicopters flew over the elementary school. Japan’s Defense Ministry says that local security cameras prove that they did fly over the school.

Politics

—Rightwing Osaka Governor Ichiro Matsui files a defamation lawsuit against liberal Niigata Governor Ryuichi Yoneyama because his feelings got hurt. Matsui didn’t like being described as an authoritarian on Twitter. The real “snowflakes” are usually the “tough guys” on the right.

—Democratic Party Secretary-General Teruhiko Mashiko apologizes to Party of Hope for making agreement to form a united parliamentary caucus and then pulling out two days later after receiving blowback from the backbenchers. In the end, both party’s incompetence was demonstrated.

—Official campaign periods begin for both the Nagasaki and Yamaguchi gubernatorial elections, which will be held on February 4. In both cases the conservative incumbents face not-very-serious challenges from Japan Communist Party-backed challengers.

—Under the 2013 secrecy law that could one day be used to send journalists to prison, the Abe government has classified 517 items as “Specially-Designated Secrets” as of the end of 2017. Of these, 302 secrets were designated as such by the Defense Ministry. The police have 34 designated secrets.

—Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga was asked by Japanese journalists about US President Donald Trump’s “Fake News Awards.” Suga responded, “Although I have many thoughts about the subject, I will refrain from commenting.”

—Pushed especially by Katsuya Okada, Democratic Party leader Kohei Otsuka now says he wants his party to form a unified parliamentary caucus with the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan “as soon as possible.”

—After a year-and-a-half of hospitalization since his severe cycling accident in July 2016, former Liberal Democratic Party leader Sadakazu Tanigaki has finally recovered sufficiently to return to his home.

International

—Liberal Democratic Party Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai and Komeito Secretary-General Yoshihisa Inoue ready to adjust Diet schedule to allow Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to attend Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, in spite of clear signals from Abe aides that he is looking for excuses not to attend.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is reportedly quite irritated that Liberal Democratic Party Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai is pushing him to attend the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics and taking away his excuses for not doing do. Abe would rather snub Seoul over Comfort Women policy.

—Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi states that his “personal opinion” is that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe should attend the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

—Abe government demanding South Korea not erect monuments for wartime forced laborers either, in spite of the fact that even Japanese rightwingers don’t deny the historical reality of the employment of forced labor. They want all such wartime history forgotten, even if it is true.

—Prodded again by an Abe aide, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte promises to take some unspecified action against the Comfort Women statue recently set up in Manila. Japanese diplomats are silent on mass murder in the Philippines, but outraged by a memorial to wartime women.

—US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has told many nations’ foreign ministers, including Taro Kono, that the Pentagon has compiled a battle plan should war be launched against North Korea. US State Department calls this “an integration of diplomatic efforts with the military option.”

—US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson cites the starvation of North Korean fishermen at sea, the boats with dead bodies arriving on Japanese shores, as evidence for the “success” of the policy of economic sanctions. Tillerson notes, “these sanctions are really starting to hurt.”

Economy

—The Abe government wants older people to remain in the workforce as the size of younger generation continues to shrink back to 19th century levels. “The general trend of uniformly seeing those aged 65 or over as elderly is losing credibility.”

—The growing consensus is that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is likely to reappoint Haruhiko Kuroda as the Governor of the Bank of Japan. It is felt to be the safe choice that will make monetary policy more predictable.

—Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan leader Yukio Edano calls for raising the salaries of children’s daycare workers as an important measure to advance the nation’s economy and address economic disparities.

Society

—Democratic Youth League of Japan (a wing of the Japan Communist Party) establishes a project to combat forced conformity in Japanese education. “We’d like to change the way of thinking dominated by irrational school rules.”

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