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Massive Rainstorm Devastates Western Japan

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

Top Headline

—Massive rainstorms in western Japan have cause somewhere near 200 deaths. Hillsides collapse into mud and rivers are overflow their banks. The damage is immense. The rainstorm and flood disaster in the record books as the most deadly event of its kind in Japan since the 1982 Great Flood of Nagasaki, in which 299 people died.

Politics

—German researcher finds that rightwingers have been massively using bots to support the Abe government in elections and denouncing critics as being “anti-Japanese.”

—Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, as usual turning a deaf ear to criticism, once again asserts that the ruling Liberal Democratic Party should stop assisting newspapers because “people who don’t read newspapers all support the Liberal Democratic Party.”

—Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan leader Yukio Edano says that Diet debates should be suspended and the government focus all its efforts on dealing with disaster relief in western Japan.

—Opposition parties unite to try to shame the Abe government into stopping its effort to debate casino legalization while half the nation is a disaster zone. They want Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his cabinet to devote their full attention to the rainstorm tragedy.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe cancels his planned trip to Europe and West Asia that was scheduled to begin this week due to the rainstorm and flood disaster.

—Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan was preparing a “no confidence” motion against the Abe Cabinet, but decided to delay it for the time being due to the national emergency of western Japan flooding.

—There hasn’t been much movement in political party popularity for some months. The Democratic Party For the People has yet to even register in the top five. This TBS poll has them well below the Social Democratic Party, believe it or not.

International

—Journalist Junpei Yasuda, held hostage in Syria since October 2015, appears in a newly released video. He speaks in English saying that he wants to see his friends and family. The video was apparently filmed last year. Yasuda is said to be in rather bad health now.

—Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights spokeswoman: “We regret that seven people were today executed in Japan… the death penalty only compounds injustice and is no greater deterrent than other forms of punishment.”

—European Union Delegation to Japan expresses sympathy to the families of the victims of Aum Shinrikyo, but remains “strongly and unequivocally opposed to the use of capital punishment under all circumstances,” which “fails to act as a deterrent to crime.”

—US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on North Korean complaints: “If those requests were gangster-like, the world is a gangster.” Well, now that you mention it…

Economy

—The Abe government has now fully ratified the TPP 11 agreement, the second country to do so after Mexico. Nine other nations are still in the middle of the process before it can be effectuated.

—In a campaign that makes you wonder if Japan is simply hopeless, “Jisa Biz” launched in Tokyo, allowing some employees to work different hours. Why on earth Japanese businesses can’t figure out for themselves how wasteful their employment practices are is beyond us.

—Nissan Motor has admitted that there has been testing misconduct regarding some of their cars which have been sold in Japan. Emission tests have been falsified. A full investigation is now taking place.

—Altaba has agreed to sell 221 billion yen (about US$2 billion) worth of shares in Yahoo Japan to SoftBank. As a result, Altaba will now have a 27% stake and SoftBank’s stake will rise from 43% to 48% of Yahoo Japan.

Society

—Aum Shinrikyo guru Shoko Asahara executed by the Japanese government, as well as his followers Tomomasa Nakagawa, Kiyohide Hayakawa, Yoshihiro Inoue, Masami Tsuchiya, Seiichi Endo, and Tomomitsu Niimi. Seven of the thirteen Aum-related death row inmates hanged on a single morning.

—Masahiko Usui, chairman of its board of regents, and Mamoru Suzuki, president of Tokyo Medical University, resign over their roles in bribing Education Ministry senior official Futoshi Sano. They allowed Sano’s son to enroll in university despite failing his entrance exam.

—Naha District Court rules that two US Marines must pay 26.4 million yen (about US$238,000) to the family of an Okinawan man. In 2008, the Marines refused to pay taxi fare and beat the driver on the head with a bottle. The taxi driver quit his job and later died of cancer.

Note: There were no separate “Today in Japan” reports issued between July 6 and July 9.

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