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Record Heat Wave Takes Increasing Toll

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

Top Headline

—The average temperature in eastern Japan this July was the hottest on record since 1946. It was 2.8 degrees celsius hotter than an average year, but global warming is expected to throw the concept of an “average year” based on old data out the window. On August 3, the high temperature in Nagoya was 40.3 degrees celsius, the highest temperature ever recorded in that city. In Tokyo alone, 96 people are believed to have died from heatstroke during the month of July. Studies suggest that even this figure may rise sharply in the years ahead as global warming advances. The toll on the elderly is particularly notable. Mainichi Shinbun reports about one woman in her 60s who died of heatstroke in her home in Sapporo. It seems she was very poor and lived alone. She had an air conditioner and a fan, but it seems she was unable to pay her electricity bill and her services were suspended, costing her life.

Politics

—Former Defense Minister Tomomi Inada deletes a tweet in which she praised a Nippon Kaigi lawyer because he “supports Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and remains untainted by the new religion of pro-constitutionism.” She comes close to saying loyalty to Abe is above duty to obey the law.

—Yuichiro Tamaki will be a candidate to lead the Democratic Party For the People, and is probably the favorite to win. The election is scheduled for September 4.

—Japan Communist Party Chairman Kazuo Shii has left the hospital after his surgery. He will spend a couple weeks at his home recovering before he returns to his party duties.

—Yukio Edano’s three-hour speech laying out the case for the July 20 “no confidence” motion against the Abe Cabinet has been published as a booklet by Fusosha and briefly became the No. 1 bestselling book on Amazon Japan. Impressive feat.

—Tokyo residents polled by the Asahi Shinbun support Tokyo’s new ordinance banning smoking in most restaurants by a 77% to 20% margin. A good policy turns out to be good politics for Governor Yuriko Koike.

—No longer in the political stratosphere as she was before her Party of Hope follies of September-October last year; nevertheless, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike maintains a reasonably good level of support among the residents of the Metropolitan District.

—Ruing party lawmaker Tomu Tanikawa declares on an internet television program that same-sex relationships are merely “like a hobby” that some people have, and therefore deserve no special legal protection. He was apparently trying to defend Mio Sugita’s discriminatory views.

—The LDP Administrative Reform Promotion Headquarters, led by disgraced “Friend of Shinzo” Akira Amari, is reportedly set to propose breaking up the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare into several entities. It’s not immediately clear what the motives of this “reform” are.

—Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan proposing that Liberal Party and Social Democratic Party join them in a joint caucus in the House of Councillors. This would make the CDPJ the largest opposition force in both houses of the National Diet.

—Shuichi Abe elected to a third term as Governor of Nagano Prefecture.

International

—Another hostage video of freelance journalist Junpei Yasuda appears in a clearly threatening posture. Yasuda was captured by militants over three years ago when he went to report on the war in Syria. Many facts are unclear, but it seems his hostage-takers are seeking ransom.

—Abe government establishes a new “Information Sharing Center for Countermeasures against International Terrorism” under the auspices of the Cabinet Office, with the involvement of eleven ministries and government agencies. This portrayed as preparation for the Olympics.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is apparently mulling the possibility of banning North Korea from the 2020 Olympic Games unless he is satisfied over the abductee issue, which even many Japanese conservatives believe would be a clear violation of the Olympic Charter.

—Nobel Prize winner Toshihide Masukawa leads lawsuit against the Abe government over its unconstitutional 2015 Abe War Law, which authorized “collective self-defense.”

Economy

—Minister Toshimitsu Motegi says that the Japanese government will support the United Kingdom in its stated desire to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

—Governor Yuriko Koike declares the Toyosu site safe for the scheduled transfer of the Tokyo fish market in October.

—The Abe government is reportedly trying to convince the Trump administration not to interfere with Japanese oil imports from Iran, including the application of unilateral US sanctions on Japanese companies that do business with Iran.

Society

Yomiuri Shinbun: Prosecutors discover that Tokyo Medical University has been secretly altering entrance examination scores for years in order to reduce the number of female students. The university apparently felt that male alumni tend to better support the university.

Note: There were no separate “Today in Japan” reports issued between August 1 and August 4.

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