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Abe Scandals About More than “Cronyism”

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

Top Headline

—It seems that foreign journalists have seized upon the word “cronyism” to describe the Moritomo Gakuen and Kake Gakuen scandals. The Shingetsu News Agency hasn’t been using that particular word, and in fact we don’t believe it really captures the essence of what the scandals are all about. At this point, the scandals are about the fundamental integrity of Japan’s democratic institutions, especially the authority of the people’s representatives in the Diet. Public documents have been hidden, destroyed, rewritten. An official has possibly driven to suicide. Does the word “cronyism” suffice?

Politics

Asahi Shinbun poll puts Abe Cabinet support level at 31%, with non-support rising to 52%. All of the major polls seem to agree that Abe’s government is now somewhere in the 30s and that roughly half the public is now opposed to this administration.

—Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi suggests that Shinzo Abe may resign as prime minister in June. He cites the end of the Ordinary Diet Session as a likely occasion for that event.

—The ruling coalition has apparently agreed to call Tadao Yanase as a witness before the Diet in the Kake Gakuen scandal. It will likely happen next week.

—Liberal Democratic Party pushing for Tadao Yanase to testify before the Diet as an unsworn witness on the Kake Gakuen scandal, thus allowing him to lie to protect Prime Minister Shinzo Abe without facing the potential for later perjury charges.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appears to have quietly retreated from his proposal to revise the broadcast law to allow biased partisan news services. Sayonara, Fox News Japan!

—Top Finance Ministry bureaucrat Junichi Fukuda denies the charges of sexual harassment laid against him by female journalists. He indicates that he has no plans to resign. Word has it that Fukuda is actually preparing to sue Shukan Shincho for defamation, so he’s definitely taking a fighting posture over the allegations.

—Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan executive Kiyomi Tsujimoto suggests that it is due time for both Finance Ministry top bureaucrat Junichi Fukuda as well as Finance Minister Taro Aso to take responsibility for their actions, and inactions, and resign their posts.

—Tokyoites First beginning to do very poorly in local elections around the metropolis, suggesting that Governor Yuriko Koike’s political base will get weaker as time goes on, unless she can somehow restore her personal popularity to some degree.

International

—About 15,000 pages of Iraq War daily logs were made public today. They use the expression “combat” to describe some local events, thus providing additional evidence that the GSDF Iraq mission violated their deployment law, as was strongly argued by opponents at the time.

Economy

—Nuclear energy policy emerging as divisive point among opposition parties. The new centrist party to be formed next month will be vague about its anti-nuclear stance, while the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan has its clear anti-nuclear proposals.

—Japan and China foreign ministers agree to mutually oppose “a trade war caused by any nation.” Since the only nation currently threatening the world with a trade war is the United States, this a rare case in which Tokyo and Beijing seem to be working together to restrain the United States.

Society

—The iconic Tenjin Core building in Fukuoka scheduled to close in March 2020.

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