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Abe May Be Cut Out of Korea Peace Talks

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

The Top Headline

—China President Xi Jinping reportedly proposed four-party security talks between China, the two Koreas, and the United States. In what is becoming a trend, the proposal is to cut the Abe government out of top level talks, no doubt because its policies are an obstacle to peace.

Politics

—Yukio Edano holds first-ever meeting with heads of Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan prefectural chapter heads, of which there are now 19 in existence. He tells them to focus on their grassroots organizing and not worry about national-level party mergers that won’t happen.

Kyodo News poll finds bizarre results: 72.6% of the public found Nobuhisa Sagawa’s testimony about Moritomo Gakuen to be unpersuasive. However, Abe Cabinet support rose almost four points to 42.4% approval and 47.5% disapproval. We’ll see if other polls agree in the coming days. Kyodo poll also finds that 60.7% of the public finds it “necessary” that First Lady Akie Abe testify as a sworn witness before the Diet on the Moritomo Gakuen scandal. 34.8% say it is not necessary.

—Perhaps the real secret to Shinzo Abe’s enduring political success is that THIS man (Shigeru Ishiba) has been his top rival within the ruling party, the one most eager to become the next Prime Minister of Japan.

—The conservative Yomiuri Shinbun shows a six point drop in Abe Cabinet support from its previous poll. It has Abe Cabinet support at 42% and non-support rising to 50%.

—Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Seiko Noda, who aims to become Japan’s first female prime minister but lacks ruling party support, opens her own political school in Gifu, explaining that she wants to help bring more women into politics.

—Katsuya Okada is asked directly by his colleagues if he intends to join the new political party to be formed of the merger of most of the Democratic Party and the Party of Hope. Okada declines to answer.

—Democratic Party Secretary-General Teruhiko Mashiko says that Seiji Maehara will not be excluded from new political party if he wants to join. They won’t do to him what he did to them last year. Bad move. Who really wants to be in the same political party as Seiji Maehara?

—The leadership of Rengo, naturally, is happy with the concept of a new political party formed by the merger of the Democratic Party and the Party of Hope. Rengo executives are still looking for an opposition with no firm policies and they don’t like the clear-cut Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan approach.

—Of the 20 richest people in the House of Representatives, a total of 17 belong to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. The non-LDP rich men are Kishiro Nakamura (independent), Koichi Yamauchi (CDPJ), and Ichiro Ozawa (LP). Ozawa is the richest political party leader, topping Abe.

—House of Representatives to hold a special hearing on Moritomo Gakuen on April 11.

—Fumio Kishida makes clear that he opposes the Abe government proposal to revise the broadcasting law to allow partisan, factually-challenged news broadcasts to flourish (i.e. to allow a Japanese version of Fox News to be created by Abe’s wealthy rightwing supporters.)

—Sumio Mabuchi is setting up a new political support group. He’s preparing to make a comeback in the next general election after losing his seat as a Party of Hope candidate last October. Despite his loss, he still has visions of being at the center of a new opposition force.

—Akira Koike disparages centrist politicians for their ongoing musical chairs, changing political parties and political party names. As the Number Two man of Japan’s oldest political party, which is the only contemporary party formed in the prewar era, he clearly feels some pride.

International

—From the “Write It and Make It Disappear” Files: Records of Japan’s military dispatch to Iraq which the Abe government told the Diet no longer existed are discovered.

—Foreign Minister Taro Kono urges incoming class of diplomats to learn how to speak English. Good advice, but what country other than Japan would it really be necessary to convince diplomats of the need to actually be able to communicate with the rest of the world?

Economy

—As of today, both the Osaka Metro and Kobe Airport have been privatized. There seems to have been a bit of a quiet privatization wave taking place, especially in the Kansai.

—JR West has ended service on the Sanko Line after more than forty years. This train line ran between Hiroshima and Shimane prefectures, but the number of daily passengers in these depopulating regions had fallen to about 80 people per day.

—Shinzo Abe planning to appeal to Donald Trump personally to give Japan an exemption to the new steel and aluminum tariffs. The moment of truth is coming for Abe’s strategy of total debasement to the insecure US President.

Note: There was no separate “Today in Japan” report issued on April 1.

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