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Top Finance Ministry Bureaucrat Sacked over Sexual Harassment

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

Junichi Fukuda Case

—Seiko Hashimoto of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party publicly expresses exasperation with how the Finance Ministry is handling the sexual harassment accusations against its top bureaucrat: “It deviates from the sense of the Japanese people.”

—Internal Affairs Minister Seiko Noda has openly hinted that she is not happy with the Finance Ministry’s handling of sexual harassment accusations against top bureaucrat Junichi Fukuda. Noda has been positioning herself lately as the champion of women in politics.

—Finance Ministry top bureaucrat Junichi Fukuda denies accusation and declares he never said anything “that could be taken as sexual harassment.” This comes after Shukan Shincho releases tape recording of him telling female reporter “Can I touch your breasts?”

—Junichi Fukuda Case: Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan executive Kiyomi Tsujimoto blasts the Finance Ministry for “organizationally hiding the sexual harassment and putting pressure on its victims.”

—Junichi Fukuda Case: Finance Minister Taro Aso says no punishment is called for unless the harassed female journalist makes her identity public (and exposes herself to the usual rightwing slander campaigns). “We can do nothing without a report from the victim.”

—Party of Hope leader Yuichiro Tamaki says that those who know Fukuda all agree 100% that the voice on the tape is Fukuda’s voice. He says there’s no doubt whatsoever.

—Junichi Fukuda finally sacked as the top bureaucrat in the Finance Ministry after his alleged sexual harassment of female journalists.

—Midnight press conference summary: It seems that a female TV Asahi journalist reported Junichi Fukuda’s sexual harassment to her superiors long ago, but they basically did nothing about it. Later, she provided the tape recordings to the weekly magazine Shukan Shincho so it would be reported publicly. This finally led to Fukuda’s resignation this evening, though he still maintains his innocence against all the evidence.

Politics

—The visit by Imabari city officials to the Kantei on April 2, 2015, is now publicly documented by no less than three government organs (the Kantei itself remains silent), so how much longer can Tadao Yanase and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe maintain that the meeting didn’t happen?

—Shades of 1936? Democratic Party lawmaker Hiroyuki Konishi says that yesterday morning he was accosted by a Self-Defense Forces officer who repeatedly yelled at him that he was “an enemy of the people.” The Defense Ministry is reportedly investigating the incident.

—Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan agrees to admit House of Councillors lawmaker Hideya Sugio as a party member. He becomes their 7th lawmaker in the upper house (which hasn’t yet had an election since the progressive party was formed in October 2017).

—Hiroshi Kamiwaki, the professor at Kobe Gakuin University, files criminal complaint against Nobuhisa Sagawa over document falsification. He is taking action because the prosecutors are apparently afraid to do so on their own initiative, as their job should require.

—The 14-lawmaker Group of Independents caucus in the House of Representatives appear likely to break into three groups: those who will join the new centrist party, those who will try to join the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, and those who will go without party affiliation. One important consequence is that the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan is likely to maintain its position as the largest opposition party, though perhaps only by a whisker.

—Leaders of the expected new centrist political party say that they will make cooperation with the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan one of their top priorities.

International

—Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera provides a stroll down memory lane with renewed ruling party sophistry explaining why “combat” in and around the GSDF camp in Samawa, Iraq, did NOT mean they were operating in a “combat zone” as the law forbade. Onodera: “What constitutes ‘combat’ is concretely and individually determined from the points of view of its internationality, planability, degree of organization, and consecutiveness.” Pure sophistry! Bottom line: “combat” exists only when the government says it exists!

Mainichi Shinbun: GSDF daily logs have a suspicious tendency to be missing precisely during the period when fighting in and around Samawa, Iraq, was at its most intense. This suggests that what was released to the public recently was itself scrubbed of the most damaging information.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has left Japan on his way to visit US President Trump.

—Donald Trump sent CIA Director Mike Pompeo on a secret visit to North Korea to talk directly with Kim Jong-Un. Shinzo Abe sent no one to talk with the North Korean leader, but he did unhelpfully sit on the sidelines and demand that everyone else take his priorities seriously.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says he was successful in getting US President Donald Trump to promise to “raise the issue” of Japanese abductees when he meets North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. That’s a rather low bar to represent “diplomatic success” for the world’s No. 3 economy.

Economy

—Ryuichi Yoneyama will reportedly be resigning as Governor of Niigata Prefecture over some kind of woman scandal reported by a weekly magazine. This will be a major blow to anti-nuclear forces, as he has been stalling TEPCO’s nuclear restart at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant.

—Ryuichi Yoneyama confirms that he will be resigning as Governor of Niigata Prefecture.

—The cause of Ryuichi Yoneyama’s resignation as Governor of Niigata is now clarified. He is a 50-year-old bachelor who was dating several women, including a university student to whom he was paying money. It was an arrangement that was close to being prostitution.

—Konbini Kameiten Union claims that Seven-Eleven franchisee in Fukui Prefecture was forced by corporate headquarters to work for fifty straight hours during recent snowstorm. It is hardly the first allegation of Seven-Eleven abusing its franchisees in Japan.

Society

—Dozens of detainees at the East Japan Immigration Control Center in Ushiku, Ibaraki Prefecture, go on a hunger strike over the poor conditions under which they are held and extended periods of detention. This follows the apparent suicide of an Indian detainee last week.

—A week later, with 6,600 officers mobilized, the escaped thief in western Japan remains at large. Despite every indication being that he is non-violent and even rather polite, this is being treated like some fearful crisis as if a murderer were prowling the streets.

Note: There was no separate “Today in Japan” report issued on April 17.

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