Abe Scandal Ends a Career and Ends a Life
SNA (Tokyo) — The following stories were reported today by the Shingetsu News Agency.
Moritomo Gakuen Scandal
—Budget Committee hearings in the House of Councillors have been suspended as the opposition parties are refusing to show up, since the government has not given any answer to charges that the Finance Ministry forged Moritomo Gakuen documents. Even the ruling party is annoyed.
—After almost a week and demands from both opposition and ruling parties, Finance Ministry submits only copies of the same (likely forged) documents that it presented to the Diet last year. The opposition is rightfully outraged.
—Renho of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan observes in disgust, “Not only have we not advanced a millimeter, we have not advanced one-tenth of one millimeter.”
—Finance Ministry pointblank refuses to answer opposition lawmaker questions about whether or not there are “other versions” of the Moritomo Gakuen land sale documents.
—Paper trail getting clearer that the Finance Ministry is straight-up lying to the Diet when they claim there were no land price negotiations with Moritomo Gakuen.
—An official in the Finance Ministry’s Kansai bureau appears to have committed suicide — precisely at the time his office is under pressure for having likely forged official documents, lied to the Diet, and forced to cover up the scandals of Shinzo and Akie Abe.
—The official who committed suicide (by hanging himself in his home apparently) is reportedly Toshio Akagi, who was Senior National Property Officer, a top official in the Kansai office of the Finance Ministry directly involved in the Moritomo Gakuen issue.
—Finance Minister Taro Aso tightlipped with journalists when asked about Toshio Akagi’s apparent suicide: “I’ve heard about the matter” is all he says.
—Toshio Akagi reportedly left a suicide note, though police aren’t commenting about its contents.
—Nobuhisa Sagawa to resign as head of the National Tax Agency, in immediate wake of Toshio Akagi’s suicide.
—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe calls on Finance Ministry, Minister Taro Aso, and Nobuhisa Sagawa to “make efforts” to find the truth in the Moritomo Gakuen scandal, as if it has nothing to do with himself and First Lady Akie Abe. Yet another stratagem to politically insulate himself.
—Finance Ministry said to be preparing to admit, in some form, that they did indeed forge Moritomo Gakuen documents. We’ll see soon just how clear the admission is, and how they try to spin it as routine bureaucratic procedure or something.
—Finance Ministry’s hand being forced since Osaka District Public Prosecutors are not participating in their Moritomo Gakuen documents cover-up. Prosecutors indicate they are ready to hand over the original documents if asked by the Diet. Checkmate for the Finance Ministry.
—Finance Minister Taro Aso continues insisting Nobuhisa Sagawa was “the right person in the right position” as head of National Tax Agency, in spite of the fact he was forced to resign over the Moritomo Gakuen Scandal. Democratic Party Secretary-General Teruhiko Mashiko fires back at Aso mockingly: “Sagawa stuck to his role of protecting Prime Minister Abe, and so perhaps that sense he was indeed ‘the right person in the right position.’”
—Considerable pressure is building for Taro Aso to go as Finance Minister, but if there was ever a guy in Japanese politics who was more indifferent to public perception than Aso, we’re not sure who it is.
—About 150 protesters gathered today at Osaka’s Kyobashi Station denouncing the Moritomo Gakuen Scandal and calling for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to resign.
—Party of Hope leader Yuichiro Tamaki: “Mr. Aso can no longer escape his responsibility, and we are entering the stage in which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s responsibility is also brought into question.”
—Liberal Party leader Ichiro Ozawa: “We can’t escape this truly rotten feeling about Japanese politics right now. It’s not simply the politicians who have been corrupted, but the national bureaucracy has deteriorated as well.”
—Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan Diet affairs chief Kiyomi Tsujimoto: “Mr. Sagawa might also be considered as a kind of victim. It is the politicians who should be taking responsibility for political misdeeds.”
—Party of Hope and Democratic Party clearly beginning to work more closely together, likely an advance step toward a merger into a new centrist opposition party.
—Abe government sends demand to all prefectural governors and heads of education boards demanding that school children be made to watch an animated propaganda film about North Korea abductions. The Abe regime is very committed to “educating” the next generation.
—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: “Talks for the sake of talks are meaningless and we should never loosen sanctions just because North Korea is open to talks.”
—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declares victory. He says that North Korea’s policy changes are entirely the result of the sanctions that Japan advocates. Abe is planning to meet Trump next month to discuss the issue.
—More Trump Twitter diplomacy: “Kim Jong Un talked about denuclearization with the South Korean Representatives, not just a freeze. Also, no missile testing by North Korea during this period of time. Great progress being made but sanctions will remain until an agreement is reached. Meeting being planned!”
—Today is the anniversary of the Tokyo Firebombing, one of the worst (unpunished) war crimes in history, in which something like 100,000 people were murdered in one night. There was no military objective: Just slaughter civilians to hurt Japanese “morale.”
—Cabinet Office: A record 85.5% of the Japanese public now fears the nation could soon be dragged into a war (mainly thinking of North Korea).
—Kansai Electric Power Company sets March 14 as date to restart Oi No. 3 nuclear reactor. The No. 4 reactor expected to follow in a couple of months.
—Financial Services Agency comes down hard on dodgy virtual-currency exchanges, even ordering a suspension of business at two of them, Fsho and Bit Station. It seems that in this world nothing is fsho!
—Japan’s GDP growth rate figure for the final quarter of 2017 revised upwards from 0.1 to 0.4, a more significant figure.
—As expected, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) agreement was signed March 9 in Chile.
—Zero Nuclear Basic Bill: Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan to submits its legislation to the Diet today. It is jointly sponsored by Japan Communist Party, Liberal Party, and Social Democratic Party. The Party of Hope and Democratic Party fail to support the initiative.
—MIT study finds people are 70% more likely to retweet fake news than real news. Guess that explains one reason why SNA’s follower growth on Twitter has been slower than it should be. People prefer news that’s more sensational or which always reflects what they want to be true.
—Broadcasting Ethics and Program Improvement Organization says the “News Girls” program attacking Okinawa protestors “comprised defamation.” Tokyo MX, the broadcaster, is apologetic and has pulled the program. Rightwing DHC Television, the producer, is unrepentant.
—Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers (JASRAC) to begin forcing music schools to pay copyright fees from April 1, ignoring calls to wait until litigation over the controversy is settled by the courts.
—Shinmoe Peak on the Kagoshima-Miyazaki border continues erupting, with the largest eruption this cycle occurring this morning. The no-go perimeter is thus expanded slightly.
Note: There were no separate “Today in Japan” reports issued on March 8 and 9.
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