Constitutional Democrats Retain Command of the Opposition
SNA (Tokyo) — The following stories were reported today by the Shingetsu News Agency.
—Of the 107 lawmakers of the combined Democratic Party and Party of Hope, only 62 showed up for the inauguration of the Democratic Party for the People. Meanwhile, Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan quickly admits 11 left-leaning lawmakers who chose not to join the new centrist party. This means there are now 74 Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan lawmakers, including 57 in the House of Representatives, confirming their top opposition status.
—Former Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda formally resigns from the Democratic Party ahead of the creation of the Democratic Party for the People. Like Katsuya Okada is doing in Mie Prefecture, Yoshihiko Noda apparently intends to set up his own local political party in Chiba Prefecture. He says it will take about a month.
—The new rightwing Party of Hope, led by Shigefumi Matsuzawa, is established with the minimum five lawmakers. They sounded out Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike about taking a role in the party and she (wisely) refused.
—Former Abe aide Tadao Yanase to face Diet questioning on May 10 over his role in the Kake Gakuen scandal and the lies he told the Diet. The ruling party won the fight to ensure that Yanase’s testimony will not be under oath, so he can lie again without perjury charges.
—Ya know, the new logo and graphic design of the Democratic Party for the People kind of reminds us of another political party. Gee… we can’t figure out which one…
—Nobuteru Ishihara says his faction will support Shinzo Abe for a third term as party president in September. Unless yet another major scandal breaks, it’s beginning to look like Abe will be continuing as prime minister for some time to come. The key people who need to desert Abe for him to fall are in fact all re-pledging their loyalty. The evidence suggests that Abe will survive.
—Female protesters held rallies in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Sapporo to denounce Finance Minister Taro Aso over his dismissal of sexual harassment charges within the ministry and basic indifference to women’s rights. Utterly tone deaf and despicable Finance Minister Taro Aso responds to the protests with the comment: “There is no such crime as ‘sexual harassment.'”
—Internal Affairs Minister Seiko Noda makes abundantly clear that she differs with Finance Minister Taro Aso on his sexual harassment views. She suggests that if it isn’t illegal, then it should be, and that Aso is out touch with the current generation.
—The opposition parties ended their boycott of Diet deliberations after an 18-day span. The ruling party must be judged the winner as they never really moved off their no-compromise position and it was the opposition parties who ultimately relented.
—Self-Defense Forces officer who allegedly yelled at an opposition lawmaker that he is “an enemy of the people” given a light punishment by the Defense Ministry: an “admonishment” and a small pay cut.
—Kitakyushu City Councilwoman Satoko Murakami receiving death threats for inviting Education Ministry whistleblower Kihei Maekawa to give a lecture to local children. Abe-following fanatics eager to ensure that truth-tellers are punished and liars are protected.
—Japan Communist Party leader Kazuo Shii broke a bone in his ankle while out walking in Funabashi city, Chiba Prefecture.
—North Korea: “We cannot but laugh at the Japanese reactionaries’ reckless acts of anachronism in their attempts to find a way of surviving only through their hostile maneuvers against North Korea.”
—Foreign Minister Taro Kono: “There has been absolutely no change in the Japanese government’s position that we support the Iran nuclear agreement.”
—Confirmed that Kim Jong-Un made his second international trip since becoming North Korean leader. Again it’s a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Kim is clearly looking for reassurances from China as he enters serious negotiations with the US and South Korea.
—China, Japan, and South Korea hold trilateral leaders’ summit in Tokyo for first time since 2015. They agree to urge North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.
—Prefectural Assemblywoman Chikako Ikeda announces her candidacy for Governor of Niigata, running as the anti-nuclear successor to Ryuichi Yoneyama. It appears that national lawmaker Makiko Kikuta has chosen not to run, but will instead back Ikeda. Japan Communist Party and Social Democratic Party indicate that they will support Chikako Ikeda’s anti-nuclear candidacy for Governor of Niigata Prefecture. Positions of other opposition parties remain unclear.
—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says trade talks with United States NOT intended to be part of a process leading to a bilateral trade agreement, a view which is unlikely to match that of US President Donald Trump and his administration.
—Now that normal Diet deliberations have resumed, the ruling party is prioritizing the Way of Working Reform Bill for passage, hoping to pay off the big business community for standing by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe despite his multiple scandals.
—Kansai Electric Power Company restarts the Oi No. 4 nuclear reactor in Fukui Prefecture.
—Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo has shut down its campus on May 7 after receiving an anonymous bomb threat over the Golden Week holiday. It’s a rather unusual event for contemporary Japan.
—Ishinomaki Mayor Hiroshi Kameyama wants to appeal the Okawa Elementary School ruling to the Supreme Court, not accepting that government is guilty of negligence in the tsunami deaths of 74 students and 10 staff members.
—Rainy season has begun in Okinawa.
Note: There were no separate “Today in Japan” reports issued on May 7 and May 8.
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