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More Calls for Taro Aso’s Head

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

Top Headline

—Opposition party lawmakers hold special rally event to demand the resignation of Taro Aso as Finance Minister, calling him “irresponsible” and “without qualifications” for his post. Many ruling coalition lawmakers said to be quietly advising that Taro Aso be dumped before the July 2019 House of Councillors election. They worry that he will be a dead weight around the ruling party’s neck come election time.

Politics

—To their credit, the large majority of Japanese people are not buying Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s lame explanations about Kake Gakuen, in spite of all his desperate efforts to bury the incriminating evidence. JNN poll also has disapproval of the Abe Cabinet rising above 59%.

—Group called “Citizens’ Association That Will Not Allow a Curtain to Be Pulled Over the Moritomo and Kake Problems” asks for an inquest panel to review the Osaka prosecutors’ decision not to indict Nobuhisa Sagawa and other Finance Ministry officials over document forgery.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe instructs ministers to take measures to prevent future cases of official document forgery, playing out the fiction that Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga and his own team aren’t behind the suppression of information to protect his government.

—Shinjiro Koizumi admits that Abe government explanations about the Kake Gakuen scandal are not particularly convincing.

—Tokyo Nakano Ward mayoral elections coming up on June 10. There are four candidates, but the ruling party and opposition parties have lined up behind two candidates in particular. The main issue of contention are redevelopment plans for the current Sun Plaza mall area.

—Regulatory Reform Promotion Council declines to recommend the abolishment of the broadcasting law’s political fairness requirement, a further sign that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has backed off his notion of creating Japanese rightwing versions of Fox News.

—Finance Ministry hands out punishments to twenty officials over Moritomo Gakuen document falsification. But don’t worry! Finance Minister Taro Aso assures us it wasn’t “systematic,” but simply the act of a few bad apples—that is, twenty bad apples it seems.

—Head of the Foreign Ministry’s Russia desk, Tadaatsu Mori, suspended for nine months over sexual harassment. Foreign Minister Taro Kono declines to give details of the offense, but does indicate that it had nothing to do with his work as a diplomat.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spent three hours at a French restaurant in Tokyo with Wataru Takeshita and other leaders of the Takeshita Faction, directly or indirectly campaigning for their support in the upcoming Liberal Democratic Party leadership elections.

—Saga Governor Yoshinori Yamaguchi indicates his intention to run for reelection when his term of office is up this December.

—Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan leader Yukio Edano continues with message that Japan should be a society in which its leaders play by the rules and respect moral values.

—Japan Innovation Party Secretary-General Nobuyuki Baba suggests that his party might be willing to tie up with the centrist Democratic Party for the People on some issues. This suggests shifting grounds among the opposition parties.

International

—Observers noting phrase “maximum pressure” toward North Korea does not appear in joint statement of US-Japan-South Korea defense ministers. It seems that the preferred Japanese language emphasizing confrontation was rejected by one or both of their partners at this time.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to convince US President Donald Trump to denounce North Korea’s position that the Japanese abductee issue is settled when Trump meets directly with Kim Jong-Un.

—US Air Force Osprey aircraft makes an emergency landing on Amami Island in Kagoshima Prefecture. A second Osprey joins it in landing on the island. Reports say no one was hurt.

—Futenma base commander Colonel Mark Coppess relieved of duty “due to a loss of trust and confidence in his ability to lead his command.” His name quickly disappears from official US Marines Futenma webpage, but little indication of what occurred.

—Akita Prefecture and Akita City demand that the Defense Ministry conduct a public meeting to explain why they want to base an Aegis Ashore facility in their region, which would make Akita a primary target in case of a major conflict.

Economy

Kyodo News poll finds that ruling party-backed Hideyo Hanazumi and opposition-backed Chikako Ikeda are polling neck-and-neck in the crucial Niigata gubernatorial race. There will be a big effect either way on TEPCO and nuclear energy policy. Asahi Shinbun poll puts the ruling party-backed Hideyo Hanazumi slightly ahead.

—Unnamed head of a local chamber of commerce publicly appeals for Niigata voters to select the ruling party candidate Hideyo Hanazumi and not the opposition candidate Chikako Ikeda for the following reason: “Niigata Prefecture does not need a woman as our governor!”

—Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga on Trump’s trade war policies: “It is extremely deplorable that the situation has not improved even after Japan has explained to the United States its concerns at various levels.”

—Subaru quality-control scandal widens, as inspections find additional improprieties in fuel economy and emissions tests conducted for finished vehicles. Executives say they have found over 1800 instances in which inspection data had been falsified.

—Britain considers directly investing in a unit of Hitachi in order to build a new nuclear power station in North Wales, estimating the cost at nearly US$28 billion. Hitachi’s Horizon Nuclear Power plans to construct new nuclear capacity at two sites in the country.

—Abe aide Yasutoshi Nishimura calls for increasing the number of foreigners working in Japan in order to help Japanese businesses with their labor shortages, while at the same time insisting that this isn’t an “immigration policy.” They want foreign labor, but not foreigners.

Society

—Kobe Education Board official found to have suppressed documentation that proved a 14-year-old female student had committed suicide due to bullying at school. Documentation was hidden both from the girl’s parents and the Kobe District Court.

—There was a clash in Kawasaki in which anti-racism activists forced the cancellation of an anti-Korean hate speech event by physically preventing the speakers and participants from entering the venue.

—A YouTube channel of overtly racist Japan First Party, led by Makoto Sakurai, has been removed for violating community guidelines.

—One of the YouTube channels associated with Texas Daddy appears to have been deleted as well, although others remain up. Texas Daddy (Tony Marano) has gained a following within Japanese far right by echoing their political views.

—JR East has launched process to allow public suggestions for the name of the new train station being built on the Yamanote Line.

—Rainy season declared to have begun in Tokyo and other regions of Japan, though forecast for the next few days is partly cloudy.

Note: There were no separate “Today in Japan” reports issued on June 4 and June 5.

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