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Abe Cabinet Approves Controversial Labor Bill

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

The Top Headline

—The Abe Cabinet approves the Way of Working Reform Bill (a.k.a. the Death-by-Overwork Permission Bill) for submission to the Diet. It would legalize company’s ability to make their workers do up to 100 hours overtime work per month, which studies show can be lethal. The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan to introduce its own labor legislation plan in response to the Abe government’s Way of Working Reform Bill. The CDPJ plan would still allow companies to make their employees work up to 80 hours overtime per month.

Politics

—Six opposition parties jointly agree to demand as witnesses before the Diet regarding Defense Ministry document suppression former Defense Minister Tomomi Inada, former top bureaucrat Tetsuro Kuroe, and former GSDF Chief of Staff Toshiya Okabe.

—Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, too, denounces the uniformed military officers of the Ground Self-Defense Forces for hiding Iraq War documents from their ministers: “It’s a big problem and is very regrettable.”

—Shigeru Ishiba becomes the latest figure to attack the Abe government proposal to revise the broadcasting law and allow openly partisan and non-objective news programs (a Fox News for Japan). Ishiba says allowing such a thing would be unhealthy for the nation’s democracy.

—The Abe government’s anti-smoking bill, already watered-down at the demand of pro-tobacco lawmakers in the Liberal Democratic Party, will apparently not be passed in the current Diet session. Legalizing death-by-overwork at the behest of big business will take priority for now.

—Rengo decides to invite no political party leaders at all to its May Day event this year. It would appear that the labor federation’s leadership is afraid of the internal divisions that might erupt when it came to choosing who should be invited and who not.

—The ruling party’s Nukaga Faction will officially become the Takeshita Faction (again) on April 19.

International

—Abe government’s lack of diplomatic credibility evident in the fact that Foreign Minister Taro Kono issued dire warnings of a forthcoming North Korean nuclear weapons test, and no other country, neither friend nor foe, took it seriously. It is understood that Abe is part of the problem.

—Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga is hospitalized and cancels his planned participation in a China trade mission. Officials insist that the governor is okay.

Economy

—TEPCO apologizes to the family of Fumio Okubo, a 102-year-old man who decided to commit suicide in 2011 rather than obey orders to evacuate from the vicinity of the disaster-struck Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

—Corruption of the national bureaucracy also becoming evident at METI, which is becoming little more than a lobbying organization to support the spread of nuclear power under Minister Hiroshige Seko. Top bureaucrats’ promotion dependent upon pushing the Abe government’s line.

Technology

—The Drone Wars: National Police Agency says it recorded 68 illegal drone flights in 2017, and brought related charges against 77 people. Japan passed a restrictive drone law in 2015 after official outrage at the landing of a protest drone on the Prime Minister’s Office.

—Rakuten granted a 4G mobile license which will allow it to challenge NTT Docomo, KDDI, and SoftBank in the national mobile phone market.

Note: There was no separate “Today in Japan” report issued on April 5.

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