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Japan Getting Away with Murder

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

The Top Headline

—US President Donald Trump: “We lose vast amounts of money with China and Japan and South Korea. They are getting away with murder. We are going to charge countries outside of our country—countries that take advantage of the United States. Some of them are so-called allies, but they are not allies on trade. So we’re going to be doing very much a reciprocal tax and you’ll be hearing about that during the week and the coming months.” So it seems that Donald Trump feels his ally Shinzo Abe is “getting away with murder” in terms of his trade relations with the United States. Trump has been making the same Japan complaint since the 1980s. It’s one of his notions that is likely impervious to factual rebuttal.

Politics

—Ruling Liberal Democratic Party renews its refusal to call Nobuhisa Sagawa to testify in the Diet. Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi backs his coalition partner on refusing to call Nobuhisa Sagawa to testify in the Diet. Meanwhile, Finance Minister Taro Aso again insists that Sagawa is “the appropriate person” to lead the National Tax Agency.

—Goshi Hosono and few others are the ones reportedly trying to stop the break-up of the Party of Hope. Hosono neither wants to join the conservative Matsuzawa group, nor return to the Democratic Party. Not for the first time, Hosono and friends have no viable strategy at all.

—In the House of Representatives Budget Committee, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe resumes strong attacks on the Asahi Shinbun over what he regards as false reporting. This liberal-leaning pro-establishment newspaper continues to be the imagined bogeyman for Japan’s right wing.

—Katsuya Okada is opposed to the creation of a possible new political party to formed by the merger of the Democratic Party with the former Democratic Party members of the Party of Hope. Okada appears to be clinging to the notion that the Democratic Party can still rebuild itself.

International

—Poll shows that Taiwanese regard Japan as the country that aided them the most in the wake of the February 6 earthquake. Japan was the only nation to dispatch a disaster relief team to Taiwan.

—The Abe government is now desperate to convince South Korean President Moon Jae-In to refuse the invitation to visit Pyongyang. They insist that the nuclear issue isn’t resolved. That’s true, of course, but what is the Abe plan to resolve it? Sanctions only? Yeah, good luck!

—Foreign Minister Taro Kono insists that US Vice-President Mike Pence’s suggestion that Washington is willing to talk directly with North Korea is by no means an “unconditional” offer.

—Sounding a very different note than the Abe administration, Liberal Democratic Party Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai praises the efforts of South Korea to talk directly with North Korea. Nikai says it’s “a good thing” and hopes the bilateral talks will progress.

—North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un: “It is important to continue making good results by further livening up the warm climate of reconciliation and dialogue created by the strong desire and common will of the north and the south with the Winter Olympics as a momentum.”

—South Korea’s ruling Democratic Party calls for reunions among families separated between North and South Korea to resume in the near future, as an important aspect of warming bilateral ties.

—Japan Communist Party criticizes the Abe government for its demand that US military exercises threatening North Korea resume immediately after the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. They say it’s an unseemly stance for a nation under a pacifist constitution.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe tells the Diet that his brief conversation with North Korea’s ceremonial leader Kim Yong-Nam in Pyeongchang focused on the abductee issue. Abe says he encouraged North Korea to resolve the issue.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe receives a visit at the Kantei from newly-elected Nago Mayor Taketoyo Toguchi. The prime minister pledges “full support” from the government for Toguchi’s economic plans. Soon the subsidies and the payoffs for obedience are expected to flow.

—Yingluck Shinawatra and Thaksin Shinawatra were in Japan for several days, but now have reportedly moved on to Hong Kong. The military regime in Thailand wants to put them both in prison over various charges.

Economy

—Coincheck begins allowing some of its customers to withdraw yen for the first time since the cryptocurrency exchange operator was hacked. Financial Services Agency regulators are watching closely.

—Right now: US$1.00 = 107.6 Yen.

Society

—Heavy snows in western Japan now account for the deaths of five people in various kinds of mishaps, like piles of snow falling from rooftops and people slipping on the ice.

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