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Abe and Moon on Collision Course

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

The Top Headline

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reportedly asked South Korean President Moon Jae-In to quickly re-endorse major US military exercises to ensure that war tensions vis-a-vis North Korea can be ramped up again immediately after the Olympics. Moon rejected Abe’s request. The Abe government trying to figure out what it can do to blow up potential North-South Korea peace talks. Tokyo only wants to see pressure and sanctions with no realistic objective. Kyodo News quotes a Foreign Ministry official: “South Korea might run off ahead on a course of dialogue.” Kyodo News also cites “a source close to the Prime Minister’s Office” who states “dialogue is meaningless unless North Korea says it will abandon nuclear weapons in a verifiable and irreversible manner.” The Asahi Shinbun reports this gem from an unnamed Abe government official: “There will be a need for Japan and the United States to work closely to continue to remind South Korea that it should not move any closer toward North Korea.” Meanwhile, South Korean President Moon Jae-In was treating his North Korean guests with exceptional courtesy, meeting the sister of the leader Kim Yo-Jong no less than four times over the past three days. Moon appeared to have more-or-less accepted an invitation to visit Pyongyang in the near future. This, of course, puts Moon on a collision course with his allies in Washington and Tokyo. They will be putting heavy pressure on Seoul to abort any further moves toward reconciliation.

Politics

—Shigeru Ishiba says that rival plans for revising Article Nine of the Constitution should be a focus of debate in the September Liberal Democratic Party leadership race.

—Party of Hope now internally divided into about four groups with largely contradictory ideologies and/or strategies. The five members of Shigefumi Matsuzawa’s conservative group will seek to either join or federate with the Japan Innovation Party.

—Nobuhisa Sagawa gave false testimony to the Diet over the Moritomo Gakuen land sale. Then, Abe promoted him to National Tax Agency chief. Sagawa refuses to hold any press conferences and the government is refusing to have him answer questions in the Diet. The people don’t buy it.

—Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan leader Yukio Edano calls bullshit on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s repeated statement that his plan to revise Article Nine of the Constitution would only preserve the status quo and would not represent a further step toward remilitarization.

International

—Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi takes sharply different position from Abe government on the Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review. He says that his party doesn’t support it, since Japan as the world’s only atomic bombed country needs to take a longer view on the issue.

—Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera refuses to be drawn on the question of whether the crash of the Ground Self-Defense Forces AH-64 attack helicopter in Kanzaki city also signifies the effective end of the plan to deploy Osprey aircraft to Saga Airport.

Society

—Cabinet Office poll shows plurality of Japanese public believes married women should be able to keep using their maiden names: 42.5% support versus 29.3% opposed. Frankly, it’s disappointing that there isn’t a firm majority supporting this right. Japan lags on gender issues.

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