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Denny Tamaki the All-Okinawa Candidate

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

Top Headline

—Denny Tamaki to be the All-Okinawa candidate for Okinawa Governor. This son of an unknown US soldier and an Okinawan mother a fitting symbol of the anti-base movement. He’s also very intelligent and committed to the cause. However, his formal announcement was delayed, probably because of concern for a while that the tape naming him a preferred successor by Takeshi Onaga didn’t exist. Meanwhile, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga suggested that the people of Okinawa shouldn’t select their next governor according to the US military base issue, but should confine themselves to economic development and welfare policies. It’s already clear that Atsushi Sakima, the pro-government candidate, will play down the Henoko issue in his gubernatorial campaign, pretending that he will not automatically support the Abe government’s base-building policy. This is exactly what former Governor Hirokazu Nakaima did in the 2010 election. Also, with Sakima remaining vague about his Henoko stance, the Okinawa chapter of Komeito, ostensibly anti-base, will find it easier to support Komeito’s national position, which is to lick the boots of the Abe regime so as to remain in the governing coalition at all costs.

Politics

—Denny Tamaki’s run for Okinawa Governor will be a blow to Ichiro Ozawa’s Liberal Party. Tamaki is the party’s Secretary-General and his departure reduces the Liberal Party to five lawmakers, with only Ichiro Ozawa himself in the House of Representatives.

—Communist Japan! Kazuo Shii has returned to his full duties as Chairman of the Japan Communist Party after recovering from surgery. He says that he’s feeling 100% now.

—Like his ruling coalition partner Shinzo Abe, Natsuo Yamaguchi is having Komeito party rules changed so that he can remain party leader beyond the previously set limits. We live in an new authoritarian age, it seems, in which those on top just refuse to step aside.

—The Liberal Democratic Party sets its party presidential election date for September 20. By all appearances, Shinzo Abe has already sown up his victory over Shigeru Ishiba, with the only real question being the margin of his victory.

—Shigeru Ishiba gets a boost as Wataru Takeshita announces that he will vote for Ishiba in the Liberal Democratic Party leadership race next month. The Takeshita Faction will not take a united position, mainly because Toshimitsu Motegi and his circle insist on supporting Abe.

—Tsuneo Watanabe, 92, editor-in-chief of the Yomiuri Shinbun and powerful longtime ally of the ruling conservatives, fell at home and broke part of his cervical spine. This apparently occurred about a week ago, but the Yomiuri, with characteristic transparency, suppressed it.

—Official campaign period for Democratic Party For the People leadership race begins. It is incumbent party co-leader Yuichiro Tamaki against challenger Keisuke Tsumura. Both of them come from the former Party of Hope wing of the party. The key difference seems to be that Tamaki rejects electoral cooperation with the Japan Communist Party, while Tsumura admits the possibility.

—Michiyoshi Yunoki to become the first lawmaker to resign from the Democratic Party For the People since its establishment in May. Yunoki accuses the party leaders of being too weak in confronting the Abe regime. He prefers the tougher stance of the progressive opposition.

—Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan to launch its Okinawa chapter next Wednesday, in preparation for the Okinawa gubernatorial elections. This will mean that the CDPJ will have local chapters in 31 of Japan’s 47 prefectures. The organization is still only 10 months old.

International

—The Abe government’s latest scheme to threaten and coerce the people of Okinawa to accept US military base construction is to charge the prefectural government 20 million yen per day if it suspends permission to build the Henoko base.

—Human Rights Watch calls on Japan to protect the victims of North Korea’s “Paradise on Earth” campaign. As they note, “The governments of both North Korea and Japan (through a cabinet resolution) endorsed the program at the highest levels.”

—Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have agreed to meet in Tokyo on October 29 to negotiate the terms of the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), like the one already signed between India and the United States.

—Miya Tanaka of the Japan Times reports that Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan leader Yukio Edano is seeking a meeting with US Senator Bernie Sanders during his planned trip to the United States next month.

—The US Air Force is planning to deploy five CV-22 Osprey aircraft at Yokota Air Base, Tokyo, on October 1. They are expected to begin drills in the skies over the area shortly thereafter. Eventually, five more Ospreys are expected to be deployed to Yokota.

—ASDF First Lieutenant Misa Matsushima, 26, to become Japan’s first female fighter pilot.

—Saga Prefecture to receive a 10 billion yen (about US$90 million) payment for its agreement to host GSDF Osprey aircraft at Saga Airport.

—Japan House in Los Angeles is officially launched. It remains to be seen if this Foreign Ministry-sponsored institution will stick to the promotion of the globally-admired aspects of Japanese culture, or will become yet another mouthpiece for the sentiments of rightwingers.

Economy

—Japan is seeking to accept around 300 caregivers each from Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam every year as a part of Japan’s bilateral trade agreement with those countries. The purpose is to fill the job vacancies in the care industry.

—Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga puts inflated mobile phone fees in the crosshairs, saying that they should be reduced by 40%. “We have to say that there is no competition,” he growled.

—TEPCO, Chubu Electric, Hitachi, and Toshiba are considering an alliance on nuclear power station maintenance and decommissioning. The four-way partnership, if confirmed, would consolidate personnel and streamline costs by launching a joint company.

—Prosecutors raid subsidiaries of Mitsubishi Materials Corporation over alleged product data fabrication.

—Shigeru Ishiba will not make consumption tax a campaign issue against Shinzo Abe. Ishiba agrees that the tax must be raised from 8% to 10% as planned in October 2019. He says it is necessary to rebuild public finances for the sake future generations.

Technology

—Space Situational Awareness satellites which can monitor space and detect potential hazards, such as debris, have been a recent JAXA focus. The government has made plans to launch them in 2028. This would provide Japan an independent space observation capability.

—Environment Ministry expected to make FY2019 budget request of 2 billion yen (about US$18 million) to subsidize purchases of low-speed electric buses, mainly for use by the elderly and by tourists.

Society

—To address the issue of aging, Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Himawari Life Insurance is launching in October a new insurance policy related to people diagnosed with dementia. The policy will provide up to 250,000 yen for individuals affected by this disease.

—National Police Agency to launch smartphone application next year that puts people directly in touch with emergency services anywhere in Japan.

—Four Japanese basketball players sent home from the Asian Games in Jakarta after an Asahi Shinbun reporter caught them visiting local prostitutes.

—Former Yokozuma Takanohana had seizures and collapsed unconscious while traveling in Akita city. An ambulance transported him to the hospital. His consciousness returned. It’s not clear yet how serious a health problem he suffered.

—Tsukiji Fish Market to block tourist access to the early morning tuna auctions beginning September 15. This is said to be in preparation for the October 11 move to the new Toyosu location.

—Japan Meteorological Agency reports that typhoons are developing at the fastest rate seen since 1971. Also, there was a period in early August in which new typhoons were being generated for five straight days, which had never been seen before since records began.

—Some Japanese lawmakers are concerned about ticket scalping during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and are mulling countermeasures in advance.

—Oh Happy Japan! Cabinet Office survey finds that 74.7% of Japanese are satisfied with their lives, which is the highest figure since polling began in 1963.

Note: There were no separate “Today in Japan” reports issued between August 20 and August 24.

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