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Abe Cabinet: Sexual Harassment Is No Crime

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

Top Headline

—The Abe Cabinet officially approves the statement that “The crime of sexual harassment does not exist,” backing Finance Minister Taro Aso’s obnoxious assertions. Seiko Noda, as Internal Affairs Minister, must have decided to keep her job and vote in favor of the resolution.

Politics

—Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan is unfortunately playing very conventional politics in some local areas. They will support Shuichi Abe for reelection as Governor of Nagano, the same candidate that the Liberal Democratic Party is supporting.

—Latest Jiji Press poll finds basically no movement in the Abe Cabinet’s support rate since last month: 38% approval vs. 43% disapproval.

—Osaka District Public Prosecutors again quick to decline to prosecute Nobuhisa Sagawa for ordering forgery of official documents and lying repeatedly to the Diet. This unwillingness to act makes a mockery of Japan’s parliamentary democracy and puts bureaucrats above the law. Of course, it’s really the power of Shinzo Abe and Yoshihide Suga that is protecting Nobuhisa Sagawa from the appropriate consequences of his actions. Crimes have a way of transforming into non-crimes when they are performed in service to a powerful and corrupt regime.

—The Abe government now has at least 517 designated secrets under the terms of Abe’s Designated Secrets Protection Law, effectuated in 2014. Under the terms of that law, journalists like us can be imprisoned for doing our jobs and reporting what we learn. So far, no one has been prosecuted.

—Liberal Democratic Party dinosaur Bunmei Ibuki unhappy with new gender equality movement: “We definitely shouldn’t ignore possible female candidates simply because they are women, but that doesn’t mean we should select irresponsible candidates just because they are women.”

—Japan Communist Party chief Kazuo Shii is happy to continue electoral cooperation with the progressive Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, but isn’t so sure that it makes sense to work with the centrist Democratic Party for the People.

International

Akahata on the enduring history that Okinawans remember well as Tokyo and Washington try to obscure it: “Between the end of the war in 1945 and the reversion in 1972, Okinawa was governed by the US military, and Okinawans suffered various hardships. From the outset, the US forcibly seized public and private land to construct military facilities. The US military did not leave Okinawa even after its reversion to Japan and continued to commit crimes, cause accidents, and create incidents in the prefecture.”

—Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga visits Okinawa to try to organize conservatives to retake power in Naha in the late 2018 gubernatorial election. As in the Nago mayoral race, promises of money for cooperation are the lead element in the campaign.

—Kenji Kanasugi, director general of the Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, to hang around the sidelines of the June 12 Trump-Kim summit in Singapore… if it happens.

Economy

—Japan Tourism Agency confirms that this is likely to be the year that annual tourists to Japan exceed 30 million for the first time. Barring a slowdown later in the year, it’s already well on that pace.

—The Dark Side of the Tourist Boom: Disrespectful morons have been found to be carving their initials in the bamboo stems in Kyoto’s Arashiyama district. Now the Japanese local authorities have only bad choices to solve a problem that shouldn’t have arisen in the first place.

Akahata: Amazon Japan is massively evading local taxes by exploiting loopholes in the US-Japan tax treaty. American-style corporate theft from the public coffers being exported to Japan.

Asahi Shinbun editorial savages the Abe government energy policy with laser precision: “The government’s new energy policy agenda is wedded to an old, outdated approach, turning its back on growing domestic and overseas movements toward new policy goals.”

—Ruling coalition quickly passes TPP 11 ratification through the House of Representatives, arguing that there’s no need for further debate since the opposition had a chance to ask their questions back in 2016. Opposition parties fume… helplessly.

—Five opposition parties may submit no confidence motion in the House of Representatives against Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, signaling their strong disapproval of the TPP 11 agreement, for which the Abe government is now seeking Diet ratification.

—More than 80 hours overtime work per month estimated to put people at risk of death by overwork: LDP = up to 100 overtime hours okay; DPFP = up to 100 overtime hours okay (now criticized within party); CDPJ = up to 80 overtime hours okay; Communist = up to 45 overtime hours okay.

—The national government wants to take a larger slice of taxpayer money from people in Tokyo and spend it in the rural regions of the country. Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike moving to oppose the plan, and in fact it may be Tokyo’s “punishment” for rejecting the LDP candidate.

—Narita Airport reaches the 40th year since its opening in 1978. Its construction sparked one of the most bitter political struggles in Japanese postwar history, but is mainly known now as the airport you use if no appropriate flights are available at more convenient Haneda.

Society

—Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga suggests that the new imperial era name will be publicly announced only about a month before it begins. He suggests that is enough time to change all the calendars and computer programs in Japan that must use the new era name.

—Two lawyers, Ryo Sasaki and Kanehito Kita, are fighting back against rightwing internet trolls, launching a lawsuit against several thousand of them. The lawyers have been viciously harassed online for supporting the rights of ethnic Korean schools.

—Internet survey finds that of 103 women working in the Japanese news media, 102 say that they have been sexually harassed multiple times in the course of doing their jobs.

—Beginning tomorrow, the first Yamanote Line trains equipped with cameras facing into the carriages will be brought into service. It’s another great victory for the surveillance state, sold to the public as a preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the terrorist bogeymen.

Note: There were no separate “Today in Japan” reports issued on May 18 and May 19.

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