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Abe Looks to Pyongyang to Save Him from Scandal

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

The Top Headline

—Shorter Shinzo Abe: With North Korea, talks for the sake of talks are meaningless!… But if Trump says he wants talks, well, that’s totally cool! With Trump now having set afire Shinzo Abe’s “no talk” isolation policy regarding North Korea, Abe is considering a sharp move in the other direction—to set up a leaders’ summit between himself and Kim Jong-Un. Of course, a dramatic move like this one would also take the sharp focus off of the Moritomo Gakuen scandal, which may be Abe’s real motive. Pyongyang saved Abe from the effects of the Kake Gakuen scandal last year, so why not try it again?

Politics

—Taro Aso repeats this morning that he is not stepping down as Finance Minister. He says his new mission is to get to the bottom of the documents forgery affair and ensure that it never happens again.

—Japan Business Federation Chairman Sadayuki Sakakibara: “It is urgent to discover the purpose of the forgery and find out who authorized them, and then inform the public.” Sakakibara is a close political ally of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

—Several Cabinet ministers, including Foreign Minister Taro Kono, are invited by journalists to defend Taro Aso’s decision to remain in his post as Finance Minister. They decline to defend Aso.

—The Board of Audit of Japan effectively conspired with Finance Ministry to hide the existence of two sets of Moritomo Gakuen documents. The Board of Audit discovered the essential facts last year, but refrained from informing the Diet in its official report last November.

—Pushed off balance by Abe government scandals, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party will likely delay unveiling its proposal to revise Article Nine of the Constitution. They had wanted it ready by March 25, the date of the party’s annual convention.

—Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike speaks harshly about the Finance Ministry’s falsification of official documents: “It is scandalous. This is something which absolutely must not be permitted.”

—Reports emerging that Toshio Akagi, the Finance Ministry official who committed suicide, left behind a note which said he had been forced to forge documents. The evidence trail linking his death to the Abe scandal is getting clearer.

—Yoshimitsu Kobayashi, chairman of Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation, declares that it is a major problem for Japanese democracy that Taro Aso isn’t resigning as Finance Minister. At the very least, Kobayashi observes, Aso is responsible for a failure of oversight at his ministry.

—Eyebrows raised as First Lady Akie Abe “likes” a comment on her Facebook page declaring that the opposition parties “ask stupid questions.” (You’d think she’d have more self-awareness by now, but apparently not.)

International

—Finance Minister Taro Aso now likely to skip attendance at the G20 Summit in Argentina next week. This is said to be related to the disruption of the Diet schedule created by the Moritomo Gakuen Scandal.

—Even Kyodo News reports on the #RegaindemocracyJP hashtag and the messages to Japan from South Koreans who see a parallel between the need to overthrow the Abe government and their own previous struggle against President Park Geun-Hye.

—Rex Tillerson is suddenly out as US Secretary of State. His replacement will be CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

Economy

—The ruling Liberal Democratic Party gives its seal of approval to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Society

Kyodo News reports more than one thousand protesters showed up at the Prime Minister’s Office last night. Another large protest is expected this evening.

—The Abe Cabinet approves submission of the bill that would lower the legal age of adulthood from 20 to 18.

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