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“The Entire US Military is Just Crazy!”

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

The Top Headline

—Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga states, “Is the US military completely out of control? I feel like are entirely outside of any management or supervision. It’s like the entire US military is just crazy!” Meanwhile, Former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama urges the Abe government to start acting like Japan is a sovereign nation and to demand that US Marine helicopters be grounded until safe operations can be assured. Indeed, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera directly asks Lt. Gen. Jerry Martinez, commander of US Forces Japan, to ground its fleet of US Marine AH-1 attack helicopters.

Politics

—Seiji Mataichi has officially announced his candidacy to become leader of the Social Democratic Party. Since no one else is expected to run, it should be a very successful candidacy.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe refuses to dismiss Nobuhisa Sagawa, whom he corruptly appointed National Tax Agency chief likely as a payoff for his false testimony to the Diet regarding the Moritomo Gakuen scandal. Yukio Edano declares, “The falsehood of the testimony is now clear.”

—Prime Minister Abe’s insistence that Sagawa is “the right person in the right post” as National Tax Agency chief is being widely mocked on Japanese social media and in the political world.

—Party of Hope leader Yuichiro Tamaki makes clear that he opposes Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s proposal for the revision of Article Nine of the Constitution. That is, Tamaki opposes adding a third paragraph that would specify authorization of the Self-Defense Forces.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declares that anyone who opposes his idea of revising Article Nine of the Constitution to write in the Self-Defense Forces is “irresponsible.” He also implies that it is wrong for the Self-Defense Forces to be made to risk their lives under the current Article Nine.

—Secretary-General Teruhiko Mashiko floats the idea of dividing the Democratic Party. He still wants to join forces with Party of Hope and apparently thinks dividing the party is worth it. Party leader Kohei Otsuka is reportedly against Mashiko’s idea.

—Standoff continues over how much time opposition parties will be given for questions in the House of Representatives Budget Committee. The Abe government wants the opposition to accept a cut in their question time, but so far the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan is staunchly refusing, demanding the usual 80% of the time.

International

—According to NHK, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has relented and will attend the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. Ruling party executives worked hard to ensure Abe had no scheduling conflicts he could use as an excuse to snub the South Korean invitation.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is reportedly planning to tell South Korean President Moon Jae-In what he thinks about the Comfort Women issue in person when they meet next month at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

—Some rightwing Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers, led by former Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone, are angry that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe might visit South Korea. They are eager to snub the Moon administration over its review of Comfort Women policies.

—The Blue House (South Korean Presidential Office): “Our government hopes to closely cooperate with the Japanese government so Prime Minister Abe’s South Korea trip will lead to the future-oriented development of the relationship between the two countries.”

—The US Marine helicopter that made the emergency landing on Tonaki Island last night has safely returned to Futenma Air Base. There was no apparent damage associated with this event.

—The Abe government’s territorial disputes propaganda exhibition set to open tomorrow in the Municipal Research Building in Tokyo Chiyoda Ward. It will present the party line on both the Senkaku-Diaoyu islands as well as Dokdo-Takeshima.

Economy

—Without providing much detail, it appears that the TPP 11 talks in Tokyo were broadly successful, and apparently the deal will be signed in Chile in March. Canada’s concerns seem to have been addressed.

Mainichi Shinbun reports that it was Mexico that played to key role in convincing Canada to agree to the TPP 11 pact. Mexico gave Canada assurances that it would work arm-in-arm to confront the United States in North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations, should Trump try to rewrite that agreement.

—Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan preparing to attack the Abe government’s forthcoming labor policy legislation as a “Zero Overtime Pay Bill.” This debate is expected to be one of focuses of the current Diet session.

—Opposition parties, including Party of Hope, agree to work together to take on the ruling party on the issues of the “Way of Working Reform Bill” as well as the Pezy Computing subsidies scandal.

—Tokyo prosecutors planning third arrest warrant on Motoaki Saito, president of Pezy Computing. Saito will face charges of tax evasion in addition to existing charges of defrauding government subsidies from the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization. The opposition parties have been raising this case in the Diet as well, trying to tie it in some way to the policies of the Abe government.

—Niigata Governor Ryuichi Yoneyama declares that if TEPCO and the Abe government attempt to restart the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear reactors without his permission, the prefectural government is ready to seek a court injunction and launch a lawsuit.

Society

—Continuing volcanic activity at Mt. Kusatsu-Shirane in Gunma Prefecture brings a halt to search efforts in the area. No one is reported missing, but rescue teams wanted to search for stranded people just in case. However, it was judged too dangerous for the search teams.

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