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Pro-Abe Government Candidate Wins in Nago

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 first week of February 2018.

The anti-base movement in Okinawa suffered a painful defeat when incumbent Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine was defeated by his pro-Abe government challenger Taketoyo Toguchi by a decisive margin. Toguchi’s appeal to economic development won over a majority of the Nago voters, many of whom appeared to judge that all-out resistance to the construction of the new US Marine airbase at Henoko was hopeless. Toguchi himself revealed very little about what his own stance on base construction would consist of.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe began demanding that US-South Korean military exercises threatening North Korea resume at full scale immediately after the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. Abe was desperate to spike any hopes of a reduction in war tensions as he attempted to scare the Japanese people into making historic revisions to the Peace Constitution.

A Ground Self-Defense Forces attack helicopter went down in a residential neighborhood in Kanzaki city, Saga Prefecture. The two crew members died and the private home upon which the helicopter fell went up in flames, but the only person in the house at the time was able to escape. In the wake of this major accident, it became unclear if the planned deployment of the controversial Osprey aircraft to Saga Airport could still take place.

The Finance Ministry began to produce documents on the scandalous land sale to the Moritomo Gakuen elementary school that it had earlier claimed had no longer existed. The opposition parties continued to demand that National Tax Agency head Nobuhisa Sagawa be summoned to explain his earlier false testimony to the Diet, but the Abe government refused to allow it, just as they had refused to produce First Lady Akie Abe, a key figure in the scandal.

The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan conducted Zero Nuclear Basic Bill town meetings in various cities across the nation. The new progressive party was working on building up its grassroots support both through the embrace of this popular policy and by making direct connections with potential regional supporters.

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