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Abe Regime Shaken, Not Stirred

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

Top Headline

—Abe-friendly Yomiuri Shinbun puts Abe Cabinet approval rating down three points to 39%. Disapproval they peg at 53%. The major reason given is that respondents say they can’t trust Shinzo Abe any longer. Meanwhile, a Reuters survey finds that Shinzo Abe maintains strong support from medium- and large-sized business executives. Their poll finds 73% of these executives desire the Abe government to continue in office past September. The latest round of polls puts Abe Cabinet approval between 30%-39%. That’s low, but honestly not exactly crisis-level low. A substantial portion of the public still seems to support Abe in spite of the morally devastating revelations. Moreover, at a Nikai Faction party this evening, Toshihiro Nikai made a renewed declaration of total support for Shinzo Abe to remain as prime minister and leader of the Liberal Democratic Party.

Politics

—Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan leader Yukio Edano suggests that the resignation of Taro Aso as Finance Minister is a firm condition for the opposition parties to return to Diet deliberations.

—Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga declares it “not necessary” for Taro Aso to resign as Finance Minister. Meanwhile, the opposition reiterates that they will not return to Diet deliberations until Aso is out. The Abe government continues sticking to the self-serving line that rather than resign and take responsibility for their serial failures and corruption, they and their top allies must remain in power in order to “restore confidence” in the governing institutions.

—One big question is whether the new opposition political party to be formed next month by the merger of the Democratic Party and the Party of Hope will finally be able to get back on this chart. They ought to at least have more support than the Japan Innovation Party.

—Former Education Minister Hakubun Shimomura on the TV Asahi female reporter recording Junichi Fukuda’s sexual harassment and giving the recording to Shukan Shincho: “In a certain sense, it was a crime” (by the female reporter, not the male harasser). He also lectures to an audience: “I’ve recently come to believe that the news media exists to crush the Japanese state.” Once again, conservatives across the world show their growing contempt for democracy.

—Opposition parties calling on Finance Ministry to block Junichi Fukuda’s retirement payout after he has stepped down over sexual harassment charges. He is due to receive about US$500,000 if allowed to retire normally.

—Nobuhisa Sagawa has reportedly been interviewed by Osaka prosecutors on a voluntary basis and admitted that he played a hand in ordering the falsification of official documents. For unpersuasive reasons, it appears the prosecutors have decided not to pursue him.

International

—Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga’s surgery to remove a tumor from his pancreas was reportedly successful, though it may be more than a month before he can return to his official duties.

—The bad year for Okinawa’s anti-base movement continues as conservative incumbent Sachio Kuwae is reelected as Mayor of Okinawa City.

—Anti-base protests at the gates of Camp Schwab, Henoko, Okinawa, were particularly intense today as hundreds of protesters confronted police, renewing their determination not to allow the construction of the new US Marine air base.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe tells families, “It is extremely important to make progress on the North Korea abduction issue more than anything.”

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe claims that it is only because of his State Secrecy Act of 2013 that Japan can receive information from the United States about North Korea that thus guarantees national security. There’s plenty of evidence to demonstrate that this is yet another self-serving lie by Prime Minister Abe. The United States did not massively alter its intelligence cooperation with Japan after 2013, but we expect the Japanese media to be hesitant to point this out.

—Documentary evidence becoming clearer that the South Sudan mission, like the Iraq mission before it, involved the government lying to the Japanese public about the dangers being faced by the Self-Defense Forces on the ground.

—South Korean group says that so far this year four elderly former Comfort Women have passed away, They now count 28 living women in the country as having been victims of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery system.

Economy

—Kyushu Electric hoping to restart Genkai No. 4 nuclear reactor on May 24.

—There are some indications that the Abe administration may be bending under Trump threats. Abe and Aso may now be willing to engage in bilateral trade talks that they had earlier ruled out.

—Ryuichi Yoneyama to officially step down as Governor of Niigata Prefecture on Friday afternoon.

Society

—With the death of Nabi Tajima at age 117, there are now no longer any living human beings on this earth who were born in the 19th century.

—In yet another triumph of humanity at the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau, a Turkish detainee suffered an appendicitis but his pleas to the guards for help were dismissed for almost a full day. They apparently told him to just stop his whining and he’d be fine.

Note: There was no separate “Today in Japan” report issued on April 22.

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