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Abe in Pyeongchang

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

The Top Headline

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has gone to South Korea for the opening ceremonies of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. Arriving there, Abe meets South Korean President Moon Jae-In and continues hectoring him over December 2015 Comfort Women pact: “A promise between two countries is the foundation of their bilateral relationship,” Abe declares. He also shakes hands and briefly speaks with North Korean ceremonial leader Kim Yong-Nam at a reception dinner.

Politics

—Fukushiro Nukaga to remain head of the Liberal Democratic Party’s Nukaga Faction until at least March 14, when a meeting will be held. It looks like he will be replaced by Wataru Takeshita at that time. Faction Old Boy Mikio Aoki is also trying to get Nukaga to resign.

—Liberal Democratic Party Headquarters for the Promotion of Revision to the Constitution divided between majority that wants to add third paragraph to Article Nine, and Shigeru Ishiba who insists on eliminating the second paragraph.

—Ministry of Finance coughs up additional documents about Moritomo Gakuen land sale. Meanwhile, Finance Minister Taro Aso continues defending Nobuhisa Sagawa, now National Tax Agency chief, who lied repeatedly to the Diet last year saying that no documents existed.

International

—No Smiles: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warns neighboring countries “not to be blinded by North Korea’s Smile Diplomacy,” Instead, all that is needed is sanctions, sanctions, sanctions, sanctions. For what practical, achievable objective, Abe remains silent.

Sankei Shinbun has surrendered! They admit that their reporting on a traffic accident in Okinawa in December was faulty. There is no evidence a US Marine saved an Okinawan motorist, and admit they “went too far” in attacking the Okinawan newspaper media.

Economy

—Tokyo District Court orders TEPCO to pay a total of about US$10 million in compensation to 318 former residents of Minami-Soma city, Fukushima, for psychological damage they suffered as a result of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

—Japanese ambassador warns UK Prime Minister Theresa May on Brexit policy: “If there is no profitability of continuing operations in the UK, not Japanese only, then no private company can continue operations. So it is as simple as that.” Investment in UK is premised on EU access.

Japan Times‘ new owners have decided to proselytize on behalf of something called “Satoyama Capitalism,” which as near as we can tell is some kind of fuzzy-minded, environmentally-friendly form of village capitalism which they see as opposed to “Money Capitalism.” Umm, okay.

—In 2017, for the first time, the annual number of tourists visiting Okinawa topped the number of tourists visiting Hawaii. Cruise ship port calls from the Asian mainland played the key role in helping Okinawa edge out Hawaii.

—Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Seiko Noda urges NHK to reduce the fees to viewers, though it’s unclear if the government is serious about this idea.

Society

—Due to the heavy snowfall in Fukui, dozens of people have remained camped in their cars on the road for two days now, waiting for the highway to be cleared. Self-Defense Forces are handing out rice balls to the drivers so they have something to eat.

—As of the small hours of this morning, the cars that had been trapped on the roads for a couple days in Fukui by heavy snow have been freed, and traffic is moving again.

—Taimei Elementary School in Ginza under fire for requiring all students to wear new Armani-designed school uniforms that cost more than US$700 each. Ginza is a wealthier neighborhood, but even still some parents are angry at the additional financial burden.

—Environment Ministry confirms that at least one turtle has been killed by the oil washing up on the beaches of Amami-Oshima Island. The oil may or may not have come from the disaster-struck Sanchi oil tanker.

—Fukuoka city likely to become the first municipality on Kyushu island to recognize same-sex partnerships. Their charming title for the program is “Partnership Oath System.” As in all other cases, the partnership has no national legal status, but may affect some local services.

Note: There was no “Today in Japan” report issued on February 8.

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