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The Return of Korematsu v. United States

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

Top Headline

—Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor declares the upholding of Donald Trump’s “Muslim Ban” tantamount to a re-endorsement of Korematsu v. United States, the decision by which the internment of Japanese was legitimized: “By blindly accepting the Government’s misguided invitation to sanction a discriminatory policy motivated by animosity toward a disfavored group, all in the name of a superficial claim of national security, the Court redeploys the same dangerous logic underlying Korematsu and merely replaces one gravely wrong decision with another.” Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts angrily denies that the conservative 5-4 majority has re-endorsed Korematsu in a new form, and does, for the first time, officially declare the infamous Korematsu decision null and void.

Politics

—Yukio Edano takes a further step and says he will oppose a merger of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan with another political party for as long he remains head of the progressive party.

—As might be expected, Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and the Democratic Party For the People are finding it difficult to coordinate an opposition strategy. The CDPJ tends to favor total confrontation with the Abe government while the DPFP is looking for compromise.

—Yet another ruling party conservative betrays his opinion that it is still the duty of the Japanese people to, as the 1890 Imperial Rescript on Education puts it, to “offer yourselves courageously to the State.” The notion that the state serves the people remains weak.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, questioned in the Diet, reaffirms that the choice of whether or not to have children is to be left to the Japanese people, and not commanded by the state. This was in response to Toshihiro Nikai’s talk about it being “selfish” not to have children.

—Liberal Democratic Party Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai declares it “certain” that Shinzo Abe will win a third term as president of the ruling party. He is trying to head off any serious challenge to Abe in advance of the September intra-party election.

—A majority of the lawmakers in the Kishida Faction (Kochikai) reportedly want their leader, Fumio Kishida, to enter the Liberal Democratic Party presidential race. Kishida has made clear that he wants to be prime minister, but is vague about when he will make a challenge.

—The rightwing Japan Innovation Party and the Party of Hope to propose a stronger anti-smoking bill than the ruling coalition. This is one issue upon which these two far right parties are actually more “progressive” (if anti-smoking can be described as such) than the Liberal Democratic Party.

—Tokyo passes the nation’s most serious anti-smoking ordinance, which will ban smoking in all restaurants, regardless of size. If a restaurant sets up a special smoking room, no food or drinks can be consumed there. This likely the most important act so far by Governor Yuriko Koike.

—Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan off to an encouraging start in local politics in Tokyo. Their candidates have two consecutive victories, in Nakano Ward and Suginami Ward, outperforming the Japan Communist Party by a wide margin.

—Goshi Hosono in some trouble over a shady 50 million yen (US$450,000) political campaign loan from a securities firm that he didn’t report for about half a year. His explanations don’t quite add up.

—Shinjiro Koizumi and a group of young Liberal Democratic Party members make what appears to be a very constructive and well-intentioned proposal to make sure that government scandals are properly investigated while also not bringing Diet policy deliberations to a halt.

International

—Former Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda visits the Beijing memorial hall to the victims of the 1937 Nanjing Massacre, which many Japanese rightwingers claim never happened. Fukuda is actually the 4th former prime minister to visit, following Kaifu, Murayama, and Hatoyama.

—Former Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa donates 4,175 ancient Chinese books to the National Library of China. These books had been kept by his family, the Hosokawa clan, for centuries.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe showers the increasingly dictatorial Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for his “superb and great victory” in the most recent elections.

—Foreign Ministry to split its 30-team member Northeast Asia Division into two separate divisions, one dealing with South Korea and the other North Korea. With the ongoing diplomatic process, work has gotten busier for these officials.

—Korean Central News Agency: “If Japan does not correct its ambitions regarding peace and security, it should realize the end result where Japan is passed over will be inevitable.”

—Abe government planning to propose legalizing a resumption of commercial whaling at a general meeting of the International Whaling Commission in September. Japan already engages in so-called “scientific whaling” in defiance of a 2014 International Court of Justice ruling.

—The Japanese government has agreed to donate US$17 million towards renewable energy projects in Guyana, hoping to improve its energy sources in the greater Georgetown area as well as to introduce a solar energy system.

—Japan International Cooperation Agency is collaborating with Egypt in response to global environmental concerns on 17 ongoing projects valued at US$2.1 billion. This includes a US$400 million rehabilitation of existing power plants.

—Defense Ministry says US government partially comes to its senses and will agree to pay some financial compensation to family of Okinawan woman murdered by a civilian base worker. However, if the amount is too low, Japan taxpayers will pick up part of the bill.

—Court hearings begin in San Francisco over Henoko base building in Okinawa. With Japanese courts proving themselves to be entirely supine to central government power, anti-base forces are trying to use the US National Historic Preservation Act to stop the base.

—Liberal Democratic Party may ask Ginowan Mayor Atsushi Sakima to be the pro-Abe government candidate in the November 18 Okinawa gubernatorial election. Another option is former Vice-Governor Yoshihisa Kawakami, who had served under Governor Hirokazu Nakaima.

Economy

—Yukio Edano told an audience in Saitama city that the establishment of Integrated Resorts in Japan is tantamount to “selling the country,” and a system in which the gambling losses of the Japanese people would be used to line the pockets of rich American businesspeople.

—Donald Trump demanding that all nations, including allies like Japan, stop importing oil from Iran by early November or else presumably face US sanctions themselves. Japan does have significant economic interests in Iran, so it’s not clear how the Abe government will react.

—Revealed that Trump administration officials directly told the Abe government in talks on June 19 that they want Japan to cut off all imports from Iran. The Abe government has yet to make its stance clear.

—Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga: “Japan and the United States are in talks now on re-application of US sanctions against Iran. I decline to reveal any details of the discussions.”

—Opposition parties submit a censure motion in the House of Councillors against Minister Katsunobu Kato in an effort to block a vote on the Way of Working Reform Bill, which will legalize some cases of death-by-overwork.

—The Way of Working Reform Bill is enacted. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hails it as a measure that “will rectify the culture of working long hours.” This to be done by legalizing up to 100 hours of overtime work per month and thus making some cases of death-by-overwork legal.

—Idemitsu and Showa Shell will be merging next April with the aim of expanding into the Asian market. The merged company will become Japan’s second-largest oil distributor with a combined sales reaching over 5.7 trillion yen (US$52 billion).

—Due to the rise in prices for crude oil and liquefied natural gas which is used as fuel in thermal power generation, ten major Japanese energy companies have announced that they will increase electricity rates for households beginning in August.

—The Abe government sends a letter to the Trump administration warning about the impact of imposing automobile import limits. They warn that such US protectionist policies could create “global economic damage.”

—Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to give a lecture at the political school of Liberal Party leader Ichiro Ozawa. The shared interest in ending nuclear power in Japan has brought the two longtime political enemies into alignment.

Technology

—Canadian Solar has invested in a solar park in Japan in which the Shin-Mine photovoltaic plant in Yamaguchi Prefecture is expected to produce about 66,000 megawatts of electricity per year.

Society

—Tamotsu Baba, the mayor of Namie town during the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, passes away in the city of Fukushima at age 69.

—Osaka city to become the 8th municipality in Japan to recognize LGBT partnerships, including the issuing of official cards to couples. The Liberal Democratic Party continues to drag its feet on social progress at the national level, but local governments are moving forward.

—Shinjuku Ward Office wants to limit street protests to the area around Shinjuku Chuo Park, claiming that they must restrict everyone’s protest rights as a measure to contain rightwing hate speech against Koreans and others. Critics are denouncing the idea as nonsense.

—Not sure you really need us to tell you this, but rainy season in the Tokyo region is now over and we have entered the high summer. The year’s rainy season was only 23 days long in the Tokyo area, the shortest since 1978, and it ended earlier than any rainy season on record going back to 1951. There is even said to be the possibility of a drought.

—Kai, the iconic white dog featured on many SoftBank advertisements, passes away at age 16.

—Kyoto city government begins issuing orders for specific private accommodations (minpaku) to suspend their businesses. Kyoto, in particular, has been leading the charge against unlicensed accommodation for tourists.

Note: There were no separate “Today in Japan” reports issued between June 26 and June 29.

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