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Okinawa Double Election Set for September 30

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

Top Headline

—The Abe government suspends Henoko base construction and the Okinawa government suspends its paperwork to withdraw its permission for construction. Both sides will wait until the new Governor is elected before resuming the political battle. In fact, a double election will take place on September 30: the Okinawa Governor and Ginowan Mayor posts. While the conservative candidates are both known, but the identity of the All-Okinawa candidates are still pending. In that connection, it was revealed that Takeshi Onaga himself had suggested two candidates to replace him as Okinawa Governor before he passed away. He felt that either Morimasa Goya or Denny Tamaki would be his most worthy successor. Denny Tamaki says that he takes seriously the late Takeshi Onaga’s desire that he or Morimasa Goya should run as his successor as Okinawa Governor.

Politics

—Prosecutors move forward with an indictment of a second senior Ministry of Education official. Kazuaki Kawabata, while on loan to JAXA, is accused of accepting expensive food and drinks in exchange for favors to a consulting firm.

—Nippon Kaigi and its rightwing following among ruling party lawmakers are demanding that the new Imperial Era name to follow Heisei not be revealed to the public until after the abdication of Akihito on April 30, 2019. They are demanding adherence to some previously unheard of rightwing “principle” rather than giving time for practical preparations in terms of adjusting computer programs, calendars, etc.

—Seiji Maehara becomes head of the Kyoto chapter of the Democratic Party For the People, his first party executive post since the utter debacle he led the Democratic Party into last autumn. Political memory is short, it seems.

International

—National Governors’ Association unanimously supports resolution calling for a revision of the US-Japan Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), which gives the US military an extraordinary degree of extraterritorial power within Japan.

—Signs emerging that China’s government reducing the intensity of the confrontation with Japan over the Senkaku-Diaoyu islands. Fujian Province governments are instructing Chinese fishing vessels to avoid the area. Former Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara sparked the crisis in 2012.

—In what might be big news to Kazuo Shii and the folks in Sendagaya, Fox News host Ainsley Earhardt, speaking of the US military, declares “We defeated Communist Japan.”

—Ballooning Aegis Ashore costs may push Defense Ministry to request yet another record high military budget next fiscal year. They are considering a 5.3 trillion yen (US$47.7 billion) budget request.

—Democrats Abroad are out on the hot streets of Azabu encouraging US citizens in Japan to vote in the 2018 Midterm Elections and to bring some semblance of sanity back to US policies.

—Predictably, the Abe government demands that the new Comfort Women statue in Taiwan be removed. It’s proof positive that the issue isn’t about mainland Chinese manipulations or lying Koreans, but rather about Shinzo Abe’s war on any historical memory the right dislikes.

—The ongoing Korean peace process, now eight months since it started, finally causing the isolated Abe government to begin doubting the efficacy of its own hardline, no negotiations posture. They are even discussing the possibility of providing financial aid to North Korea.

—UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights: “Workers hired to decontaminate Fukushima reportedly include migrant workers, asylum seekers and people who are homeless.”

Economy

—Apple, in an alleged bid to eliminate its competition, reportedly pressured Yahoo to reduce its expansion of online games. This relates to the Game Plus web in which users can freely stream games without downloading them. The Fair Trade Commission is investigating.

—Toyota plans to increase car production to 120,000 cars a year in Tianjin to improve Japan-China trade connections and to boost sales in China, particularly of electronic cars. This comes at a time when US-China trade relations are viewed as uncertain.

—Foreign Minister Taro Kono encourages Colombia to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.

Technology

—Spotify has launched lyrics search, but only in Japan. Apple Music and Amazon Music have had this option available worldwide, while Spotify has focused on personalization technology and playlist programming instead of lyrics features.

—Pharmaceutical company Eisai Co. has obtained US government approval for its oral drug Lenvima, which treats people suffering from liver cancer. It was invented as a treatment for the unresectable cancer hepatocellular carcinoma.

Society

—Mt. Shindake on the island of Kuchinoerabu, Kagoshima Prefecture, showing intense seismic activity as volcanic eruptions expected.

—Many local governments mulling new anti-smoking ordinances that are stronger than the watered-down national law passed by the ruling party. Shibuya Ward is even considering tougher measures than the new Tokyo Metropolitan Government anti-smoking ordinance.

—Environment Ministry finally turning its attention to the issue reducing plastic waste. Japan is one of the worst offenders globally in producing mountains of waste plastics, and anyone visiting a market will easily understand why.

—Skylark Holdings, which operates about 3,200 restaurants in Japan and overseas, to stop providing plastic straws by 2020 as a measure to cut down on plastic waste. Currently, this restaurant group uses 105 million straws a year.

—Another climate record has been set in Japan this summer: A mountain in Hokkaido had its first snowfall of the winter on August 17.

—In 2017, a total of 7,181 foreigners were refused entry to Japan at various airports, etc., by the Japanese immigration authorities.

Note: There were no separate “Today in Japan” reports issued between August 16 and August 18.

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