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Pawns Sacrificed to Save Abe

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

Top Headline

—Mayor Ryoji Kan of Imabari city confirms that his staff members reported about a Shinzo Abe-Kotaro Kake meeting that took place in February 2015. Abe is denying any such meeting occurred in spite of contemporaneous documentation that it did happen. However, Kake Gakuen now claiming that it lied in 2015 when it told Imabari city officials that Kotaro Kake had met with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and gained his support for the school project. Team Abe is thus finding an escape route, once again, from Kake Gakuen scandal. Pawns sacrificed to save the King.

Politics

—Finance Ministry is now on record admitting they eliminated paperwork last year about Moritomo Gakuen once the scandal over the prime minister’s involvement became public. And yet, prosecutors seem to see nothing to act upon.

—Saeko Tani, the aide to Akie Abe, made contact with the Finance Ministry at least twice in November 2015 inquiring about Moritomo Gakuen land price negotiations. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had declared he would resign if evidence of Akie’s involvement were found. Here it is. Tani has now proven to be the pipeline between First Lady Akie Abe and the Finance Ministry. It was she who conveyed Akie’s hopes that the land price for the Moritomo Gakuen elementary school would be reduced. No, it was not sontaku; it was direct involvement from the top.

—The mainstream media and political establishment no longer mention it, but it should be repeated that Finance Ministry official Toshio Akagi committed suicide over being forced to falsify Moritomo Gakuen documents. The Abe cover-up is NOT a victimless crime.

—Former Moritomo Gakuen head Yasunori Kagoike on his ten-months in detention despite being convicted of nothing: “It is recognized as a detention for the purposes of national policy.” Indeed, signs point to Kagoike having been effectively a political prisoner.

—In fact, the Democratic Party for the People is shifting issue-by-issue, sometimes voting along with other opposition parties and sometimes voting with the ruling coalition.

—Komeito appears to be pushing for Taro Aso to resign as Finance Minister, breaking with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on this issue. Past history suggests, however, that they won’t actually do anything about it except make public comments.

—Yasuhiro Nakasone turns 100 years old today. He served as prime minister from 1982-1987, and his administration noted for its ideological conservatism, its close relationship with then-US President Ronald Reagan, and smashing the national power of labor unions in Japan.

—Yukio Edano visits Okinawa as the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan prepares to set up its chapter in that prefecture. There are currently 20 Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan prefectural chapters, and 6 others are being prepared. 21 other prefectures they haven’t gotten to yet.

—Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan leader Yukio Edano again dares Shinzo Abe to call a snap election, saying that if he truly possesses “self-confidence” than he shouldn’t hesitate to do so. The opposition unlikely to win power, but the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan would likely do quite well.

—On May 29, Shinzo Abe’s second administration will surpass the length of the entire Koizumi administration. This will give Abe the Number 3 position for the longevity of a Japanese administration, including both the prewar and postwar periods.

International

—US President Donald Trump says Japan and South Korea have agreed to assume most of the financial burden if the US launches military operations against North Korea. We would quote Trump directly, but the guy cannot speak a single grammatical sentence.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expresses support for the cancellation of the June 12 Trump-Kim summit in Singapore. Of course, Abe never wanted any peace process to develop in the first place, finding confrontation more congenial to his Constitution revision plans.

—Liberal Democratic Party moving forward with policy change that would classify military “strike capability” as somehow in legal conformity with “self-defense.” No doubt it’s a concept similar to how Pearl Harbor was “self-defense” against the US oil embargo.

—Liberal Democratic Party: Our military is not a military because we call it “Self-Defense Force.” Our Marines are not an offensive force because they exist only to “retake” islands. Our aircraft carrier will not be an aircraft carrier because we will call it a “Mother Ship.”

—South Korean President Moon Jae-In and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un hold surprise meeting at Panmunjom. The main objective seems to be to keep the peace train on the tracks after mixed signals on whether or not the Trump-Kim summit will be held. It’s pretty clear that some key parties, John Bolton and Shinzo Abe near the top of the list, are doing what they can to derail the peace process, but they cannot do so openly in light of Trump’s mercurial enthusiasms for being either a great war leader or a great peace leader.

—US White House sending team to Singapore to prepare for Trump-Kim summit, maintaining possibility that it may be held on June 12 as originally planned.

Economy

—Trump administration begins a “national security investigation” about imports of foreign cars and trucks. This could be an initial step toward slapping major tariffs on Japanese vehicle imports, with other nations affected as well.

—The Abe government’s Way of Working Reform Bill, which will effectively legalize many cases of companies working their employees to death, even by the government’s own estimates, expected to be passed by the House of Representatives on May 29.

Society

—David Beckham visits Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo and becomes one of the most popular topics in Japan. Guess that’s all it takes.

—Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Junko Mihara, herself a cancer survivor, gets angry with her own party for failing to protect the vulnerable against smokers. She is particularly upset with a lawmaker who heckled her by saying cancer patients should just stop going to work.

—Rainy season appears to have begun in southern Kyushu.

—A third-generation ethnic Korean woman in Kawasaki at center of nation’s first criminal case involving rightwing hate speech and online threats. The perpetrator was allegedly an unemployed man living in Fujisawa. Past due time to start reining in abuse by the “net uyoku.”

Note: There were no separate “Today in Japan” reports issued from May 24 to May 26.

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