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Abe Rivals Sharpen Their Knives

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

Kake Gakuen Scandal

—Despite Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga’s desperate attempt to head it off yesterday, the ruling coalition is huddling to discuss whether or not to give in to the opposition party demand that Tadao Yanase be made to testify under oath in the Diet about Kake Gakuen.

—The beginning of the end of the Abe regime: Kotaro Kake and Shinzo Abe become friends during their university days in the United States.

—Today in the Diet, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe again denies any involvement in helping his friend Kotaro Kake gain approval for the veterinary school in Imabari. He did not instruct Koichi Hagiuda to pressure the Education Ministry to suddenly change its policies on such applications.

—Shinjiro Koizumi again throws Abe government under the bus with a common sense statement. He points out that if Tadao Yanase really never met the Imabari city officials, why does he always qualify his denials with “as far as I can recall”? That alone makes it highly dubious.

—Shigeru Ishiba, for one, clearly believes that the Abe regime is just about finished. This is not the kind of statement one makes if you expect your party leader to have three more years in power.

—Shigeru Ishiba just keeps sticking the knife into Abe: “Administration must be done with fairness and justice. While it may seem convenient to employ your friends, in the end you only foolishly create an administration that no one can trust.”

—In Diet debate, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says he believes Tadao Yanase’s denial that he ever described Kake Gakuen as “the prime minister’s matter.” Ehime Governor Tokihiro Nakamura, on the other hand, says he has full confidence in his officials’ report from 2015.

—Tadao Yanase met with Imabari city officials in the Kantei on April 2, 2015. Yanase denies the meeting took place. Prime Minister Abe says he believes Yanase. Think it through. If an assistant to the prime minister meets a delegation in the Kantei, are there no records? SNA knows from experience that no visitor gets into the Kantei without an appointment. There is no possibility that Abe doesn’t actually know that the Yanase meeting took place in the Kantei. So, he is clearly lying, once again, to the National Diet and the Japanese people.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe taking the absurd position in Diet debate that if a document is produced by a prefectural government, then he “doesn’t know” about it or have responsibility. Abe is arguing that only if a document is produced by the national government is it relevant.

—Kihei Maekawa: “There is absolutely no reason why Ehime prefectural officials would fabricate such a document… The fact that we now need to argue such a point is itself an utter shame.”

Politics

Mainichi Shinbun: In response to opposition lawmaker requests for the Iraq War daily logs, Defense Ministry bureaucrats spent all of three hours to decide that they didn’t exist, and then Minister Tomomi Inada testified that way in the Diet. Only later did they make any real search.

—It appears that Ichiro Ozawa’s suggestion that his own Liberal Party join the centrist opposition party merger was immediately rebuffed.

—Leaders of the Aso Faction and the Nikai Faction met for dinner last night and agreed that they will still back Shinzo Abe to remain in place as prime minister, in spite of his swirling scandals. They apparently did not discuss the September ruling party leadership elections.

—NHK: The Finance Ministry asked Moritomo Gakuen to lie not just one time, but repeatedly. They were desperate to get Moritomo Gakuen to back the false testimony they were giving in the Diet last year. It seems that Yasunori Kagoike refused their appeals. Then they prosecuted him.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is asked in Diet debate if he thinks the massive discount on public land for Moritomo Gakuen was appropriate. Abe answers that it has nothing to do with him, and that it’s for the Finance Ministry to explain what they did. It’s their responsibility.

—One clear common denominator of all of the Abe government scandals swirling around is that in each case there is a profound contempt for parliamentary democracy: Opposition party questions not answered, documents hidden, documents forged. There’s no sense of accountability.

—Democratic Party decides to allow House of Councillors lawmaker Hideya Sugio to resign from the party without complaint. Sugio is expected to apply to join the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan soon.

—It is agreed that Kohei Otsuka and Yuichiro Tamaki will become co-leaders of the new merged opposition party to be formed in May. In September they will hold an election for a single leader.

International

—NHK investigation finds that US military blocked Japanese firefighters from responding to US military helicopter crash in Okinawa, even though it occurred on Japanese privately-owned land. The SOFA is written in such a way to block Japanese sovereignty over their own country.

—Naha District Court sentences US Marine to four years in prison for the drunk driving accident last November that killed a local Okinawan man.

—Doubts being raised about whether Takeshi Onaga will be willing and able to run for reelection as Governor of Okinawa later this year. For the anti-US base movement he is an indispensable leader, a highly experienced conservative politician with no one else really like him.

—Abe government asks anyone who will listen—the United States, South Korea, whomever—to mention the Japanese abductee issue whenever they hold talks with North Korea.

—Officials of Hamura city, Tokyo, demand that US military parachute drills be suspended after a parachute falls from the sky onto a local middle school. Hamura is next to Yokota Air Base.

Economy

—The ruling coalition enacts the departure tax bill, meaning that each time someone leaves Japan they will be made to pay 1,000 yen (about US$9). The tax will be added to the cost of tickets, etc.

—Kansai Electric planning to restart the Oi No. 4 nuclear reactor on May 9.

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