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Obama Deal Bad; Trump Deal Good

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

The Top Headline

—Trump’s latest on Trans-Pacific Partnership: “TPP was a very bad deal for the United States. It would have cost us tremendous amounts of jobs, would have been bad.. There is a possibility we would go in, but they will be offering us a much better deal, I would certainly do that.” Of course, as usual Trump has no idea what is “bad” or “good” about the TPP deal, he only knows that the Obama Administration negotiated it, and therefore it is “bad.” But if Trump could change a few details and claim it was all his doing, then the “bad” deal could become “good.”

Politics

—Yukio Edano makes clear that he will support a unified candidate list among opposition parties for the single-member district seats in the July 2019 House of Councillors elections.

—Seiji Mataichi formally takes over as leader of the Social Democratic Party. This tiny party had great difficulty finding any leadership candidate, so eventually turned to the veteran lawmaker. Hajime Yoshikawa becomes Secretary-General.

—Minister for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs Tetsuma Esaki has been released from the hospital after what appears to have been a mild stroke. The timing of his actual return to official duties hasn’t been decided yet.

International

—US government imposes a new round of unilateral sanctions on North Korea. The timing of these measures appears to be calculated to upset the Moon Administration’s own strategies to engage with Pyongyang.

—An aide to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who is in Washington DC communicates Abe’s support for the new unilateral US sanctions on North Korea.

—Donald Trump again threatens to attack North Korea: “If the sanctions don’t work, we’ll have to go phase two. Phase two may be a very rough thing, may be very, very unfortunate for the world. But hopefully the sanctions will work.”

—Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera in Aomori doing the rounds, apologizing for the latest US military aviation accident. Onodera seems to have had a full schedule in recent months, patiently hearing local community complaints and humbly apologizing for other peoples’ mishaps.

—Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera promises that the government “will deal sincerely and appropriately with compensation” for the local fishermen affected by the suspension of their businesses due to the US F-16 fuel tanks dropped into Lake Ogawara, Aomori Prefecture.

—Maritime Self-Defense Forces scuba divers have recovered most of the debris from the US Air Force F-16 fuel tanks that were dropped into Lake Ogawara, Aomori Prefecture.

—Kim Yong-Chol, suspected destroyer of the warship Cheonan, arrives in South Korea for the closing ceremonies of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. Obviously, not all South Koreans want to see him there.

—For the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics closing ceremony, North and South Korea to carry their own separate flags rather than the united Korea flag they had used in the opening ceremonies.

—The Pyeongchang Winter Olympics have closed.

—North Korea: “The Japanese rightwing gangsters’ terrorism against the Central Hall of Chongryon is not merely an accident but a deliberate politically-motivated provocation and heinous crime.”

Economy

—Liberal Democratic Party’s Shigeru Ishiba says that Abenomics has basically done nothing for the Japanese rural areas. It’s benefits have been restricted to a handful of major urban areas.

—Ruling coalition reaffirms its intention to pass the Way of Working Reform Bill in spite of the badly botched rollout in Diet debate, which featured dozens of major errors in the factual information the government had provided.

Society

—”Premium Friday” continues to fade from public consciousness, with even the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry admitting that only about 11% of workers have participated. METI Minister Hiroshige Seko, however, still maintains that the campaign is doing well.

Note: There was no separate “Today in Japan” report issued on February 24.

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