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FY2018 National Budget Enacted

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

The Top Headline

—The FY2018 national budget has been passed, after approval from the House of Councillors.

Politics

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declares that he “will get to the bottom” of the Moritomo Gakuen forgery scandal, pretending that it is all some kind of problem limited to parts of the Finance Ministry. Hey Shinzo! You are at the bottom of the Moritomo Gakuen Scandal and we know it!

—Liberal Democratic Party refuses once again an opposition demand to call First Lady Akie Abe as a sworn witness before the Diet regarding Moritomo Gakuen. Polls say about 2/3 of the general public also believe Akie Abe needs to testify.

Mainichi Shinbun Editorial: “The Diet’s inherent function of overseeing the executive branch of government is being called into question. The legislative branch is urged to take the initiative in carrying out investigations into Finance Ministry employees.”

—Liberal Democratic Party General Council Chairman Wataru Takeshita: “It is true that the presence of Prime Minister Abe’s wife has caused inconvenience to the administration.”

—In yet another useless piece of journalism by the Japanese media, Kyodo News says that Minister Teru Fukui has completely denied an allegation of unethical behavior alleged in a magazine article. What behavior? They don’t say. Which magazine? They don’t say. Pointless “news” report.

—In its latest blow against any kind of limited transparency, the Abe government is now discussing reducing the number of press conferences offered by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga. They have been annoyed by a handful of aggressive questions from Isoko Mochizuki, etc.

—Wataru Takeshita, head of the soon-to-be-Takeshita Faction, says that he will consider supporting either Fumio Kishida and Shigeru Ishiba in the Liberal Democratic Party presidential race. The Takeshita Faction is keeping its options open.

International

—After much speculation yesterday, it was confirmed that Kim Jong-Un made a visit to Beijing. This was his first foreign trip since he became North Korean leader in 2011. It also suggests he had important business to discuss with China about diplomatic negotiations with the United States.

—For reasons that make absolutely no political sense, the US military continues to insist that it has no responsibility for paying compensation to the family of the woman murdered by Kenneth Franklin Shinzato, because he was technically a subcontractor.

—UN Human Rights Office calls on Japan to refrain from executing Aum Shinrikyo inmates, some of whom are seeking a retrial. The office is further encouraging Japan to abolish the death penalty entirely.

Economy

—”World’s Cheapest Energy Source”: Nuclear Regulation Authority approves Japan Atomic Energy Agency plan to decommission the Monju prototype fast-breeder nuclear reactor. The plant achieved roughly nothing, will end up costing about US$12 billion, and will be cleaned up by 2048.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says that, barring a crisis on the scale of the 2008 Lehman Shock, he intends to raise the consumption tax to 10% in October 2019 (presuming he is still the national leader!)

Society

—Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko make their first-ever visits to Yonaguni island, Okinawa Prefecture. This is the westernmost point within the Japanese nation.

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