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Abe Reelection All But Assured

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

Top Headline

—Fumio Kishida chickens out and decides not to run against Shinzo Abe in September for the leadership of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. Kishida has done nothing, basically, to raise his public profile since stepping down as Foreign Minister. Kishida also slams the door on other possible challengers like Shigeru Ishiba by declaring that he, and presumably the entire Kishida Faction, will support a third term for Shinzo Abe. A Kyodo News poll finds that 310 of the 405 ruling party lawmakers have already decided to vote for Shinzo Abe to have a third term as Liberal Democratic Party president. This makes Shigeru Ishiba’s path to defeating Abe dependent on a massive victory among party chapters. The “race” is effectively over before the starting gun has fired.

Politics

—Niigata Mayor Akira Shinoda, 70, decides that he will not run for reelection when his current term ends in October. Shinoda is the only mayor of a major city in Japan whose previous career was as a journalist.

—Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Mio Sugita reports to police that she has received e-mail death threats over her discriminatory comments on LGBT people.

—Thousands of protesters gathered outside the Liberal Democratic Party headquarters last evening to denounce lawmaker Mio Sugita’s discriminatory views toward LGBT people and the ruling party’s unwillingness to serious address the issue.

—Revealed that when Asahi Shinbun made an official information request to the Financial Services Agency about briefings to Minister Seiko Noda, the FSA turned around and told Noda that the Asahi was asking about her, and gave her info about the reporter who made the request.

—Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office indicts former senior Education Ministry official Futoshi Sano on charge of accepting bribe from Tokyo Medical University by means of having Sano’s undeserving son accepted for enrollment in the university.

—Prosecutors arrest a second senior Education Ministry bureaucrat, Kazuaki Kawabata, on charges of taking bribes from a medical consultant firm. This is an almost unheard of series of corruption scandals in the upper levels of the national bureaucracy.

—Prosecutors raid Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) facilities in connection with alleged bribery of Education Ministry officials.

—Former Social Democratic Party leader Tadatomo Yoshida to try to make his political comeback and get reelected to Diet by running in next year’s House of Councillors election as a Social Democratic Party proportional representation candidate.

—Wakayama gubernatorial race set for November 25. Incumbent Governor Yoshinobu Nisaka will run for a fourth term, and one challenger has already emerged. Nisaka’s IR plans likely to be one focus.

—Incumbent Masahiro Obana wins Wakayama mayoral election, defeating the opposition candidate, Kumiko Shima.

—Confirmed that the proportion of women in senior central government bureaucratic posts (4.7%) hasn’t been growing in spite of the Abe government’s stated commitment to promoting gender equality. As is often the case, action has not followed Abe’s uplifting rhetoric.

—Foreign Minister Taro Kono confirms that he plans to run again to become president of the Liberal Democratic Party at some point in the future, though he doesn’t know when.

—Katsuya Okada launches his local organization, the Mie Democratic Union. This is one of the splinters caused by the demise of the Democratic Party, which Okada twice led.

International

—Sticker Shock! Defense Ministry beginning to admit that its purchase of two Aegis Ashore batteries may cost double or triple of what they initially reported to the government. The price tag could swell to 600 billion yen (about US$5.4 billion).

—Aegis Ashore: Akita Governor Norihisa Satake says “at this stage the answer is ‘no'” to a Defense Ministry request that one of the units be deployed in his prefecture.

—Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga’s ally Mikiko Shiroma clarifies that she will indeed be running for reelection as Naha Mayor in the October 21 election. Confusingly enough, her main conservative opponent is named Masatoshi Onaga.

—Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga moves forward with procedures to revoke the prefecture’s permission for landfill work for the construction of the new US Marine airbase at Henoko.

Economy

—Abe government reluctantly concluding that a lot more foreigners will have to be accepted into Japan to serve as caregivers for the legions of elderly Japanese. Thousands of Vietnamese to be accepted for this purpose in the next few years.

—Reconstruction Agency’s latest scheme for rebuilding the 2011 tsunami-hit Tohoku region is to create a new infrastructure for “LGBT Tourism.”

—The least successful 1987 spin-off from the Japan National Railways, JR Hokkaido, to receive another 40 billion yen (about US$360 million) in taxpayer money, as the Transport Ministry again orders the company to fix its many management problems.

—Donald Trump continues to promote his trade war: “We were abused like no nation has ever been abused on trade before because we had nobody watching. They stole our jobs and plundered our wealth. But that ended.”

Mainichi Shinbun: New survey by Meteorological Research Institute finds that an eruption of Mt. Fuji could drop up to 10 centimeters of ash in the Tokyo area, as it has done in past Japanese history. If so, the capital’s transportation systems could be brought to a halt.

Technology

—Abe government aims to have all Japanese automobiles shift to electric by 2050.

Society

—Government considering special financial support for schools to allow them to quickly install air conditioning units if they don’t already have a budget to do so.

—JR West train lines in Hiroshima Prefecture remain out of operation: Sanyo Line – Service expected to resume in November; Kure Line – Service expected to resume in November; Geibi Line – No services for at least a year.

—Living the Smooth Life: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe instructs Immigration Bureau to prepare to accept more foreign laborers from next April: “To create an environment in which foreigners can live smoothly is an important issue.”

—The municipal authorities of Iga city, Mie Prefecture, want to make it very clear: There is no “ninja shortage” in Iga and, no, they are not recruiting ninja applicants from overseas.

—All six of the remaining Aum Shinrikyo death row inmates have been executed. As a result, Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa execution of 16 people in total sets new Japan record for recent decades: “I think capital punishment is unavoidable for those who committed extremely grave and atrocious crimes, and the country’s death penalty will not be re-examined immediately.”

—Numerous reports emerging that Japanese men are starting to purchase and use parasols, sun umbrellas. Men have apparently concluded that getting more protection from the extreme heat outweighs embarrassment about using what has been regarded as a female fashion.

Note: There were no separate “Today in Japan” reports issued between July 24 and July 30.

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