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Top Military Officer Admits Lying

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

Top Headline

—Katsutoshi Kawano, chief of staff of the Joint Staff Office, Japan’s top uniformed military officer, admits lying about the non-existence of the South Sudan daily logs. Again, a key point is that the bureaucracy made up excuses why some documents are somehow “excluded” from disclosure.

Politics

—The Kantei is apparently remaining silent about whether or not they have records of the Imabari officials’ April 2, 2015, visit to Tadao Yanase, but the Education Ministry reveals they have records of the Kantei informing them in March 2015 of the impending visit.

—Tadao Yanase found entering the Kantei yesterday morning. He got mobbed by journalists asking him why he’s there and many other questions, but he kept his mouth shut.

Kyodo News interviews one of the officials who attended the April 2, 2015, meeting with Tadao Yanase. The person, who is granted anonymity by Kyodo, says that, yes, the meeting happened, and, yes, Yanase described Kake Gakuen as “the prime minister’s matter.”

—A document has apparently been found at the Agriculture Ministry as well proving that the April 2, 2015, meeting at the Kantei between Tadao Yanase and Imabari officials did take place. How long can Prime Minister Shinzo Abe continue lying about a fully provable fact? We’ll see.

—Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan Secretary-General Tetsuro Fukuyama: “The only ones making unpersuasive arguments (contrary to the documentary evidence) are the prime minister and Mr. Yanase… It is no longer possible to maintain this administration.”

—It appears that the two ruling parties have agreed to overrule Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga and will agree to have Tadao Yanase called as a witness before the Diet.

—Junichi Fukuda, the top bureaucrat in the Finance Ministry, accused by Shukan Shincho of making repeated sexual advances towards female journalists. Finance Minister Taro Aso also under fire for not taking the sexual misconduct accusations very seriously.

—After facing serious criticism, Finance Minister Taro Aso is now toughening his line on the sexual harassment allegations against the ministry’s top bureaucrat: “If the allegations are true, then he’ll be out.”

—A delegation of female opposition lawmakers visit the Finance Ministry to demand that its top bureaucrat, Junichi Fukuda, be sacked. Meanwhile, Shukan Shincho releases audio tape purporting to be Fukuda in the act of harassing a female journalist.

—Evidence mounting the Finance Ministry actively conspired to overestimate the amount of garbage so as to give the massive discount on the sale to Moritomo Gakuen. They even asked the Transport Ministry to help them. So what was the motive? Why make such an effort for Moritomo?

Mainichi Shinbun reports that prosecutors have already basically decided that they won’t be pursuing any criminal charges against Nobuhisa Sagawa. Apparently they’re too busy trying to prosecute powerless people only.

—Finance Minister Taro Aso: “When it comes to whether ministers read all the documents, I’d say I think the reality is that they glance at the papers.”

—Shinzo Abe’s control of the Liberal Democratic Party appears to be eroding quickly as many ruling party lawmakers are griping to press club journalists and saying that the prime minister has “a moral responsibility” to give credible answers to the mounting charges.

—At a political party held in a hotel last evening, Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso declared that he still supports Shinzo Abe to remain as prime minister. He said this government brings stability and must continue its economic policies.

—The Liberal Democratic Party has decided to support incumbent Keizo Hamada in the August gubernatorial race in Kagawa Prefecture.

International

—Evidence emerging that a specific unit within the Ground Self-Defense Forces may have been deliberately concealing the Iraq War daily logs from top commanders in the Defense Ministry. Their motives for doing so aren’t entirely clear.

Kyodo News: In a rare move, Japan NOT planning to express support for a US military attack. “Japan cannot make a judgment on whether Assad’s government forces really used chemical weapons,” a Foreign Ministry official says. Lack of its own confirmation never stopped Japan before. The reason why the Abe government doesn’t want to express support for US military action naturally has nothing to do with genuine principles or a defense of international peace, but rather because they are worried it will upset Russia while they are in territorial negotiations.

Economy

—Trump appears to be considering the possibility of having the United States rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

—Minister Toshimitsu Motegi pleased about the US president’s apparent renewed interest in the Trans-Pacific Partnership: “If this means that President Trump is correctly evaluating the significance and effects of the TPP, it’s something we welcome.”

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had originally promised to balance the national budget by FY2020. Last year he admitted that it wasn’t going to happen. Now he’s thinking of targeting sometime in the mid-2020s for a balanced budget… maybe.

—Japan and the European Union making arrangement to sign their bilateral trade agreement in July.

Society

—Survey by Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association spurs national debate on the question of setting an upper limit on the age that people should be able to drive. There have been a series of major accidents caused by elderly drivers. 75 or 80 years old are popular answers.

—National Police Agency stunned by case in which an officer in Hikone city shot and killed his colleague.

—From the “Moving Backwards” file: Japan Sumo Association to exclude schoolgirls from the sumo ring in an event for kids that had included girls since 2013. Apparently, their response to recent accusations of gender discrimination is to become even more discriminatory.

—Hard times for the nation’s yakuza continue. Finding it ever more difficult to make a dishonest living, more than 7% of the yakuza force quit the gangs over the past year. According to the National Police Agency, there are now only 16,800 yakuza across the nation.

—National Police Agency busted more than 3,000 people for marijuana last year. In spite of a heavy-handed approach, young Japanese in particular seem to be experimenting with it more frequently. Japan has so far refused to acknowledge scientific evidence regarding marijuana.

—Hundreds of police knocking on doors, sniffer dogs on the prowl, drones scanning from the sky: Is western Japan under attack? No. It’s all to hunt down one non-violent Japanese thief who escaped from a low-security prison. Your taxpayer money at work.

Note: There was no separate “Today in Japan” report issued on April 12.

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