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“All-Okinawa” Candidate Prevails in Nanjo City

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

The Top Headline

—”All-Okinawa” candidate Chobin Zukeran squeaks out a victory against conservative incumbent Keishun Koja to become the new Mayor of Nanjo city, Okinawa. Anti-base forces in the prefecture rejoice. Former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, in particular, celebrates the victory of Chobin Zukeran in the Nanjo mayoral race. Zukeran has been working as an executive of Hatoyama’s East Asian Community Institute. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga claims that Chobin Zukeran’s victory in the Nanjo mayoral elections had nothing to do with US military base issues, but was simply about local matters. He doesn’t explain why, then, senior ruling party officials campaigned against Zukeran.

Politics

—The Ordinary Diet Session opened this morning, and the Abe Cabinet has approved and submitted its record 97.7 trillion yen (about US$880 billion) FY2018 national budget.

—Shinzo Abe declares that the time has come to revise the Japanese Constitution as he opens this year’s Ordinary Diet Session.

—Internal Affairs Minister Seiko Noda did not attend the opening ceremonies for the Ordinary Diet Session. She is the first government minister to be absent to such an event in 17 years. Minister Noda is down with influenza, apparently a pretty severe case.

—Tadatomo Yoshida again indicates that without a seat in the Diet, he won’t be running again as leader of the Social Democratic Party. It is now looking like the youngest of the party’s four lawmakers, Hajime Yoshikawa, will step up and take the leadership post.

Mainichi Shinbun poll confirms that after the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (30%), it is the progressive Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (14%) and the leftwing Japan Communist Party (4%) that maintain the most public support. Conservative opposition is going nowhere.

—Yukio Edano says that Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan might welcome individual lawmakers to join its parliamentary caucus, but has little interest in a party-to-party unification with the Democratic Party. Still, he indicates that he’s open to discussions.

—Yoshihiko Noda Blog: “I have feelings of friendship toward many lawmakers within the Party of Hope, but it is only after they ditch Governor Koike and her ideological influence that we should explore cooperation with them.”

—Data compiled by Akahata reveals that by the end of last year, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had invited executives from the Yomiuri Shinbun to dine with him 38 times since his return to power. The Yomiuri is, of course, a strong proponent of Constitution revision and Abe policies.

Mainichi Shinbun investigation finds that the Finance Ministry deletes all e-mails after sixty days. The ministry claims this is because its servers can’t handle more data, but its widely suspected that the real reason is to avoid public scrutiny and accountability for decisions.

International

—Grassroots Democracy: Kyodo News counts 112 municipal assemblies and a prefectural assembly as having passed resolutions demanding the Japanese government join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The Abe government refuses to respond, and snubs the Nobel Peace Prize winner.

—Bunkyo Ward conducted Tokyo’s first North Korea missile drill this morning, amid the bad weather. Some protestors also gathered, arguing that the drill was meant to instill fear in the general public and was aimed at boosting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ‘no compromise’ positions.

—In Diet address, Foreign Minister Taro Kono gives the obligatory hardline declarations toward both North and South Korea on nuclear weapons and missile development, Comfort Women, Dokdo-Takeshima, etc. South Korea Foreign Ministry issues protest: “We express our deep regrets over Japan’s unjustifiable claims to Dokdo. The Japanese government should stop its wrong claims with regard to our inherent territory, which it undoubtedly is from a historic and geographical perspective, as well as in the eyes of international law.”

—Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera disputes US PACOM Admiral Harry Harris that the number of US military aircraft accidents has actually been declining. Onodera says that, as far as Japan knows, there were 11 US military accidents in 2016 and 25 in 2017.

Economy

—Paris may have pulled out of the running for the 2025 World Expo, meaning that the prospects for Osaka’s bid to host the expo have brightened considerably. The local government and business community have been putting a lot of effort into winning this bid.

—In Tokyo, another round of TPP 11 negotiations begin. The focus remains on Canada, which has the most serious objections to the current shape of the agreement. The Abe government is impatient to get the deal signed and declare success.

Society

—It’s snowing in central Tokyo now, and relatively heavy snowfall is forecast to continue for the next twelve hours, until around midnight. The Prime Minister’s Office has established a crisis management center to deal with the disruptions caused by heavy snowfall in the Tokyo region.

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