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North Korea is “Nuclear Weapons State”—Wait. What?

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

The Top Headline

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe calls North Korea a “nuclear weapons state” in Diet debate. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga later says that Abe describing the country as a “nuclear weapons state” doesn’t indicate that Japan considers North Korea a nuclear weapons state. Also, in a very fuzzy-minded “history lesson” from the prime minister, Abe states that before now a nuclear weapons state has never threatened a non-nuclear weapons state. (Seems that Abe’s problems with history extend far beyond his denialism about the Pacific War.)

Politics

—Nukaga Faction leaders exploring idea of making Fukushiro Nukaga the “Honorary Chairman” of the faction instead of its practical leader as a possible compromise that could avoid a split among its lawmakers. It’s not clear if this idea is acceptable, even to Nukaga himself.

—Opposition party calls for Akie Abe intensify as it emerges this morning that Akie allegedly telephoned Yasunori Kagoike immediately after he left a meeting with Finance Ministry officials, asking him how the land price negotiations went. In the estimation of Japan Communist Party leader Kazuo Shii, the specific allegations that have come to light against Akie Abe are now quite serious, and she must be called to testify before the Diet.

—Japan Communist Party lawmaker Kotaro Tatsumi gets Finance Ministry to reluctantly admit that they have more documents about the Moritomo Gakuen land sale than had previously been admitted, though the ministry hasn’t yet fully committed to releasing all of the documents.

—In Diet, Ministry of Internal Affairs official states that if Toshimitsu Motegi’s name was used while his secretary distributed funeral incense to constituents, that would indeed be a violation of the election law. Economic Revitalization Minister Motegi may be in real trouble.

—Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan further strengthening its connections with progressive labor unions. They agree to run a candidate in the 2019 House of Councillors election who comes directly from the General Federation of Private Railway Workers’ Unions.

—“Japan Communist Party Supporter” system is launched today. Japan’s oldest political party is looking for a renewal, trying to upgrade their media and social media operations, and to be more appealing to young people.

—Leader Natsuo Yamaguchi tells Komeito executives that he is growing scandalized by how casually Abe Cabinet ministers are taking their duties in Diet proceedings. They are having chats and taking little interest in the debate. They just act like it is of no importance at all.

—Constitution Article Nine, Paragraph Three: “The provisions of the preceding two paragraphs shall not prevent the exercise of the right of self-defense.” This new proposal has been unveiled by a group of rightwing Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers.

International

—Abe government shaken as Aegis Ashore system-connected SM-3 missile, on which they are about to spend mucho yen of taxpayer money, fails once again in a practical test under ideal conditions in Hawaii.

—Russian Ambassador to North Korea Alexander Matzegora: “Official representatives of Pyongyang have made it clear that an oil blockade would be interpreted by North Korea as a declaration of war, with all of the following consequences.”

—The Okinawa Prefectural Assembly votes unanimously (including the local chapter of Liberal Democratic Party) to demand the immediate suspension of operations at the US Marine base of Futenma. This comes three days before the critical mayoral election in Nago.

—Polling in Nago mayoral elections either has the two candidates running neck-and-neck, or with incumbent anti-base candidate Susumu Inamine having a narrow lead. Election Day is Sunday.

—Yoo Seong-Min, leader of South Korea’s conservative opposition Bareun Party: “If President Trump disapproved of even Victor Cha, who is known to be a hawk, we have to think seriously about its meaning.”

Economy

—Finance Ministry survey finds that 71% of companies feel some effects from a labor shortage in the Japanese market.

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