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More Support for Peace Constitution

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

Top Headline

—JNN Poll: 47% of Japanese public opposes revision of the Constitution compared to 40% in favor. Their poll last year showed an even division, meaning that the anti-revision position has gained ground in spite of North Korean missiles flying over Japan and nuclear tests. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe again makes his annual video address on Constitution Day to an event affiliated with Nippon Kaigi, the rightwing cult to which he and many other lawmakers belong.

Politics

—In Amman, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe indicates openly for the first time that he does not intend to fire Taro Aso as Finance Minister over his serial mismanagement, scandals, and gaffes.

—Led by Katsuya Okada, the entire Mie chapter of the Democratic Party creates its own regional political party that will remain outside the soon-to-be-established Democratic Party for the People.

—After weeks of denials in spite of clear documentary evidence that he was lying, former Abe aide Tadao Yanase now set to admit his April 2, 2015, meeting in the Kantei with Imabari city officials over Kake Gakuen. Time to cook up another set of lies to protect Shinzo Abe. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party, helpfully, will have Yanase testify in the Diet, but not under oath. This means that his next set of lies cannot result in perjury charges. Nice!

Asahi Shinbun editorial: “But with every passing year under the Abe administration, a mean and bellicose atmosphere has been growing in strength to eliminate ‘undesirable’ opinions by labeling them as ‘anti-Japanese’ and ‘detrimental to national interests.’”

Mainichi Shinbun: “Members of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet and senior bureaucrats have been making comments that would be inconceivable in the corporate world, focusing on whether they have any ‘memory’ of statements while giving little weight to hard data.”

—Looks like the ruling coalition is going to get the better of the current standoff in the Diet. It seems that the opposition parties are now preparing to end their boycott of Diet deliberations without their key demands having been met.

—Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan now has 20 prefectural chapters, but they are facing difficulty with the 26 prefectures where they currently have no national lawmakers. Creating a truly national infrastructure is a pressing task for the progressive party.

International

—South Korean President Moon Jae-In again demonstrates what real leadership is all about when someone suggests he should receive a Nobel: “President Trump can take the Nobel Prize. The only thing we need is peace.” Of course, it’s still too early for anyone to take any bows.

—South Korean President Moon Jae-In enjoying sky-high public approval ratings, with polls putting his support level in the 70-80% range, almost impossibly high for a national leader in a democratic country. The South Korean public very happy with his peace diplomacy so far.

—Liberal Democratic Party gives a “serious warning” to their new Okinawa chapter head Konosuke Kokuba for his drunken brawl on the late night streets of Naha.

—Activists and South Korean police have confrontation in Busan over attempt to install wartime forced laborers statue near the Japanese consulate. Several activists injured in the scuffles, and the police prevent the installation of the memorial.

—New US Secretary of State says he aims to have the United States get “back our swagger.” Seems to us that the “swagger” has long been part of the problem in US foreign policy, making Americans feel good about themselves while alienating everyone else.

—An advisor to South Korean President Moon Jae-In writes in Foreign Affairs that US troops may have to leave Korea after a peace treaty is signed. President Moon quickly denies this is his government’s stance. Conservatives call for the advisor, Moon Chung-In, to be sacked.

Jiji Press quotes a source close to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe regarding his trip to Israel and Palestine: “Abe is thinking about nothing but North Korea and he does everything that US President Donald Trump likes.” Wow, what a great foreign policy for a major East Asian nation!

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has completed his trip to West Asia and is now on his way back to Japan.

Economy

—The government of Thailand indicates to visiting Minister Toshimitsu Motegi that it wants to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

—About forty younger Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers to petition Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to suspend his plan to raise the consumption tax to 10% in October 2019. They argue that the tax hike will push the Japanese economy back into deflation.

—Ruling coalition begins parliamentary “debate” of the Way of Working Reform Bill in spite of the opposition party boycott. The political stalemate continues.

—US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer: “At some point, hopefully, we think we should have a free trade agreement with Japan.” The Abe government has been trying since Trump’s election to avoid such a bilateral trade pact.

Society

Kyodo News reveals a government report fretting over the amount of damage that the iconic Mt. Fuji might do if it stops being just a beautiful sight and has another major eruption. Volcanic ash over Tokyo could turn into a serious disaster.

—The Abe government has decided that the CoolBiz period has now begun.

—Today is the 31st anniversary of the last murder of a journalist in Japan. Asahi Shinbun journalist Tomohiro Kojiri was murdered in his office by a rightwinger upset that he had written about anti-Korean discrimination. The murderer was never caught.

Note: There were no separate “Today in Japan” reports issued on May 1 and May 2.

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