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US Marines Unconcerned with Okinawan Fears

SNA (Tokyo) — This Week in Japan is your source for news and information about politics and other happenings in this East Asian island country. This episode covers the Top Five stories of the final week of January 2018.

The US Marines at Futenma simply ignored the Japanese government’s official request that they ground helicopter flights for the time being, after a series of accidents. Flights continued as usual. Adding salt to the wound were comments made by Marine Corps Commandant General Robert Neller which appeared to dismiss the Okinawan peoples’ concerns. Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga observed of General Neller: “It is clear that he doesn’t recognize the fears of the Okinawan people even one bit.”

Related to this same issue, Fumiaki Matsumoto submitted his resignation as Cabinet Office Vice-Minister over his heckling in the Diet of Japan Communist Party leader Kazuo Shii. When Shii asked a question about the serial US Marine helicopter accidents in Okinawa, Matsumoto yelled out: “And how many people died!” Matsumoto’s gaffe was particularly painful for the Abe administration as it occurred less than two weeks before the crucial Nago mayoral elections, impacting the Henoko US military base building plans.

The Nukaga Faction’s House of Councillors lawmakers, and later some younger House of Representatives lawmakers, demanded that Fukushiro Nukaga step down as leader of the ruling party’s third-largest faction. Many of these lawmakers were frustrated that they’ve had no serious candidates for Liberal Democratic Party leadership for a long time, and that Nukaga himself was seen as lacking in ability to win them any clout. There was no resolution of the dispute by weeks’ end.

The Financial Services Agency hit cryptocurrency exchange operator Coincheck with a business improvement order over its failure to implement proper security measures in the wake of a major hacking incident in which all the company’s customer assets were stolen. The company managers’ main excuse was that they didn’t know what they were doing, lacking staff with the proper technical skills. The $534 million worth of the cryptocurrency NEM which disappeared from the Coincheck exchange was more than disappeared from the discredited Mt. Gox exchange in 2014.

During the course of the week, there emerged a pretty clear trail of documentary evidence proving that Nobuhisa Sagawa had given false testimony to the Diet on the Moritomo Gakuen land sale issue. However, the Abe government continued to insist that there was nothing wrong with Sagawa subsequently being appointed head of the National Tax Agency. They also refused to make him available for questioning before the Diet.

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