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Rewriting the North-South Thaw

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

The Top Headline

—Rewriting the Thaw: Turns out that Kim Jong-Un’s New Year’s Day peace initiative didn’t quite come out of nowhere. Moon administration officials secretly visited Pyongyang around November and December to discuss North Korean participation in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

Politics

—Finance Minister Taro Aso continues defending National Tax Agency head Nobuhisa Sagawa, insisting that he is fully qualified for his current post, and tacitly denying that he was appointed as a payoff for his loyal lying to the Diet on behalf of the prime minister.

—Just about everyone now hates Goshi Hosono. The conservatives around Shigefumi Matsuzawa don’t want him. People like Katsuya Okada in the Democratic Party remember all too well how he demanded they be excluded from the Party of Hope, and this is impeding the re-merger efforts.

—Finance Minister Taro Aso accuses Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan of directly organizing April 15 protest in front of Finance Ministry. When repeatedly challenged to give evidence for his claim, Aso backs down and gives a half-apology.

—Finance Minister Taro Aso cries foul about this truck used in Friday’s Moritomo Gakuen demonstration. He asserts it’s “not normal” for such a truck to be used in a demonstration that was allegedly organized by a citizens’ group. He sees the hand of official opposition parties.

—Party of Hope Diet affairs chief Kenta Izumi becomes the first to openly state that a new political party is in the works that will combine most of the lawmakers of the current Party of Hope and the Democratic Party. In terms of size, it may become the largest opposition party.

—Keizo Hamada lets it be known that he will be running for a third term as Governor of Kagawa Prefecture, Shikoku.

International

—Family of Okinawan woman murdered by US base worker Kenneth Franklin Shinzato to seek financial compensation from the US government since Shinzato himself doesn’t have any significant assets.

Economy

—Japan Blockchain Association and Japan Cryptocurrency Business Association likely to merge in April as part of efforts to restore confidence in cryptocurrency regulation.

—Opposition parties demand that Abe government withdraw its “Way of Working Reform Bill” after the prime minister gave incorrect factual testimony to the Diet. It appears that the incorrect testimony derived from a bureaucratic error, not an intentional manipulation.

Society

—Takeshi Imamura, the mayor of Nishinomiya city, Hyogo Prefecture, belatedly resigns his post after his threat last month to kill a Yomiuri Shinbun reporter whose articles he didn’t like.

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