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US Marines Defy Both Tokyo and Naha

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

The Top Headline

—Cabinet Office confirms that US Marines at Futenma are ignoring the Japanese government’s official request that they ground helicopter flights for the time being. Flights are continuing as usual. Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga is exasperated about Abe government’s inaction: “I have expressed how angry I am several hundred times. My feeling now is, how many times do I have to make this same statement?”

Politics

—Kohei Otsuka receives heckling from the Diet floor when he mistakes the name of the party he leads. He introduced himself as the leader of Minshuto (the former Democratic Party of Japan) rather than Minshinto (Democratic Party).

—All 21 of the Nukaga Faction’s House of Councillors lawmakers are demanding Fukushiro Nukaga step down. He is refusing so far. The reason why there’s a rebellion within the Nukaga Faction is because many of its lawmakers are frustrated that they’ve had no serious candidates for Liberal Democratic Party leadership for a long time and Nukaga himself is seen as lacking in ability to win them any clout.

—Toru Hashimoto has advised Osaka Governor Ichiro Matsui to delay any referendum on the administrative unification of Osaka prefecture and city. Hashimoto believes that local public opinion is no longer in favor of the concept and it is better to avoid setting up a second defeat.

—Liberal Democratic Party Vice-President Masahiko Komura calls for the ruling party to have agreed on its precise plan for revising Article Nine of the Constitution before March 25, the date of the party’s annual convention.

—Katsuya Okada makes clear that he is very unhappy with the recent comments by Democratic Party executives that they are considering the possibility of dividing the party. It seems like Okada is just about the last true believer that the Democratic Party can rise again.

—Shinzo Abe spent two hours at a fugu restaurant this evening with Fumio Kishida (who wants to succeed Abe as prime minister). Perhaps they discovered that Scaramucci is right: The fish rots from the head down.

International

—Minister for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs Tetsuma Esaki declares new territorial dispute exhibition in Tokyo as being for the “deepening of understanding” though its real purpose, of course, is to narrow understanding simply to the government’s official line. South Korea Foreign Ministry: “Our government strongly protests the Japanese government’s opening of the territorial sovereignty exhibit hall in Tokyo to make its unjustifiable claims to Dokdo, which is our inherent territory. We demand its immediate closure.”

—Defense Ministry planning to revise National Defense Program Guidelines for second time since Shinzo Abe returned to power. Previously, this had been done only about once a decade, but with this administration’s hyper-focus on military matters, the timeline is sped up.

Society

—This morning’s temperature of -4 degrees celsius was the lowest recorded in Tokyo in almost half a century.

—Osaka’s privatized subway system to be renamed the “Osaka Metro” from this April.

—Tokyo Metropolitan Government organizes disaster training drill for several hundred foreign residents. They are also developing a mobile phone app meant to tell foreigners what to do when disaster strikes… like… “Remain calm!”

—Ravages of digitalization: Print publication sales in Japan dropped almost 7% between 2016 and 2017. Magazine sales witnessed a drop of more than 10%. This is according to data compiled by the Research Institute for Publications.

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