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Tokyo and Seoul Clash over Dokdo-Takeshima

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

The Top Headline

—Japan and South Korea bicker over Dokdo-Takeshima on “Takeshima Day,” with both nations asserting their sovereignty. The South Korea Foreign Ministry stated, “Japanese government should immediately stop its unjustified claim to Dokdo, our inherent territory from a historic and geographical perspective… It should show the attitude of a responsible country by looking squarely at history in a humble way.” Meanwhile, a handful of South Korean activists were on hand in Shimane Prefecture today to protest against “Takeshima Day” ceremonies. They faced off against Japanese police and rightwingers in black sound trucks. Protests also occurred outside the Japanese embassy in Seoul.

Politics

—The Abe government throws a meaty bone to their “opposition” rightwing counterparts in the Japan Innovation Party by deciding to hold the G20 Summit in Osaka. The event will take place in summer 2019.

—Abe government likely to withdraw parts of the Way of Working Reform Bill after being forced to admit that the data it presented in the Diet was riddled with errors, including some that cast doubt on the fundamental purposes of the legislation. The opposition scores a minor win.

—Despite being embarrassed by sloppy data presentation from the government side, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe signals that he is still determined to pass the Way of Working Reform Bill.

—Election period begins in Ishikawa gubernatorial race. Masanori Tanimoto, 72, is running for a 7th term (he’s been governor for 24 years already). He faces only a single Japan Communist Party affiliated challenger, Emi Kokura, 65. Election Day is March 11.

International

—Ruling Liberal Democratic Party agrees that compensation should be offered to fishermen over the US military jet that dropped its fuel tanks yesterday into Lake Ogawara in Aomori Prefecture.

—Mayor Koji Ebina of Tohoku town, Aomori Prefecture, calls for US Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon flights to be suspended after burning fuel tanks were dropped yesterday into Lake Ogawara, near Misawa Air Base and Tohoku town.

—Clam fishing is halted in Lake Ogawara, Aomori Prefecture, as a result of the US jet from Misawa Air Base dropping its fuel tanks into the lake. Now the local community is very angry as a major local industry has been brought to a standstill.

—US State Department says that Vice-President Mike Pence was going to meet directly with the North Koreans during his stay in Pyeongchang, but the North Koreans called off the meeting at the last minute.

—Okinawa Prefectural Assembly votes, unanimously, to demand that all operations at the US Marine airbase at Futenma cease immediately. Between continuous crash landings and items falling out of aircraft, the Marines are deemed to be a public hazard rather than a protective force. The resolution of the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly also declares, “Okinawa is NOT a colony!”

Asahi Shinbun editorial questions SOFA: “The US military enjoys various privileges in Japan under the bilateral security treaty and the Status of Forces Agreement… These privileges allow the US military to get away with risky and careless operations.”

—Warmonger John Bolton continues his warmongering: “At some point, people have to recognize that North Korea wants nuclear weapons not just for self-defense, but they still want to reunify the Korean Peninsula under their control.”

Economy

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe acknowledges concerns that Japanese economy may slump shortly after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, when international attention shifts and the consumption tax rate will likely be 10%.

—Governments release details of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) deal expected to be signed in Chile by eleven nations, including Japan, on March 8. A couple dozen items were altered or suspended due to US withdrawal.

—Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan to submit Zero Nuclear Basic Bill to the Diet in early March. It calls for scrapping all nuclear power plants in the nation within five years of effectuation. Includes principle that companies and communities losing jobs to be compensated.

—Economic Report of the President (Trump): “The United States has expressed strong concerns with the overall lack of access to Japan’s automotive market for US automotive companies. A variety of non-tariff barriers impede access to Japan’s automotive market.”

—Financial Services Agency to conduct inspections of Japanese regional banks to ensure that they are complying with anti-money laundering policies. Japan has faced some international criticism for not being fully up to speed in this field.

Society

—Ruling Liberal Democratic Party accepts new version of anti-smoking bill now that it has been weakened dramatically, making exceptions for many restaurants. This seems to clear the path for this watered-down version to eventually pass into law.

—Japan Coast Guard assessment is that the oil that has been reaching some small Japanese islands is indeed from the disaster-struck tanker Sanchi.

Note: There was no separate “Today in Japan” report issued on February 21.

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