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Disasters South and North

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

Disaster Timeline

—Western Japan bracing for Typhoon No. 21 (Typhoon Jebi), which some reports suggest may be the most powerful of the season, at least in terms of its wind speed.

—If it maintains its strength, Typhoon No. 21 will potentially be the strongest typhoon to make landfall in Japan since 1993, so authorities are concerned about its impact.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe cancels his planned trip to Fukuoka this afternoon in order to remain in Tokyo and deal with expected damage to be caused by powerful Typhoon No. 21.

—Typhoon No. 21: It has just made landfall in Tokushima Prefecture, Shikoku.

—Typhoon No. 21: It has now crossed the Seto Inland Sea and hit the main island near Kobe.

—Typhoon No. 21: Reports from Osaka of some buildings having their roof torn off by the winds, and construction cranes and a semi truck on the Seto Ohashi Bridge tipped over. No reports about injuries or deaths at present.

—Typhoon No. 21: High winds have pushed a tanker into a bridge that connects Honshu with the island where Kansai International Airport is located.

—Typhoon No. 21: Aside from the tanker crashing into its bridge, Kansai International Airport has been flooded and its transportation cut off from the world. The main terminal building, however, seems to be okay.

—Typhoon No. 21: Rainfall at some places in the Kansai region has been measured at 90 millimeters per hour, which is apparently a new record.

—Typhoon No. 21: The eye of the storm has already passed into the Sea of Japan, near the Noto Peninsula.

—Typhoon No. 21: Japanese emergency services report that the tanker that crashed into the Kansai International Airport bridge had a crew of 11 people, but none of them are injured.

—Typhoon No. 21: In view of the intensity of the typhoon, the human toll appears to be comparatively light. One man died in Shiga, possibly on account of winds. There are also scattered reports of windows being smashed and injuring people.

—Typhoon No. 21: The toll so far appears to be 2 deaths and at least 76 serious injuries.

—Typhoon No. 21: Updated figures put the toll as of 7pm at 2 deaths and 126 serious injuries.

—Typhoon No. 21: Over a hundred people are trapped at Kansai International Airport due to the storm surge and the tanker smashing into the bridge connecting it to Honshu.

—Typhoon No. 21: You know those hundred people we reported were trapped at Kansai International Airport? Well, it seems the real number trapped there is in excess of 2,600 people.

—Typhoon No. 21: The situation at Kansai International Airport is rougher than we realized. More than 2,600 people are trapped on the island with no electricity and no air conditioning. Most mobile phones are not getting service either.

—Typhoon No. 21: Updated figures put the toll as of 8:30pm at 3 deaths and 163 serious injuries.

—Typhoon No. 21: As of 6 am, there were still over a million homes without electricity due to the damage from the typhoon, about half of them in Osaka Prefecture.

—Typhoon No. 21: The 3,000 or so people trapped overnight at Kansai International Airport began to transported by boat to Kobe from around 6 am. Many of them are tourists with heavy luggage.

—Typhoon No. 21: Updated figures put the toll at 9 deaths and 340 serious injuries. Osaka Prefecture was clearly the hardest hit.

—Typhoon No. 21: Buses able to traverse one side of the connecting bridge, allowing the people trapped overnight at Kansai International Airport to reach Izumisano Station on Honshu island.

—Typhoon No. 21: The president of the Kansai Electric Power Company apologizes to the public for the large-scale power outages. There are still more than half a million homes without electricity.

—Typhoon No. 21: About 160 schoolchildren are trapped in a wooded portion of Kyoto Prefecture. They were on a nature outing and fallen trees cut them off from the world. Two children were evacuated by helicopter after falling ill.

—Typhoon No. 21: The 160 schoolchildren who were trapped in a wooded portion of Kyoto Prefecture have been able to return home after the road that had been blocked by fallen trees was cleared.

—Typhoon No. 21: Concerns growing about a prolonged closure of Kansai International Airport. It’s not clear when it will be able to reopen. This is expected to have a serious negative impact on the economy, including tourism to the region.

—A major earthquake struck Hokkaido overnight which was somewhere in the 6.5 magnitude range. Aftershocks are continuing, including a 5.4 magnitude which just occurred. There are widespread electrical outages.

—Hokkaido Earthquake: Trains and subways did not begin services this morning in Sapporo and large parts of Hokkaido, About 3 million homes are without electricity. Major landslides have occurred in the town of Atsuma in particular, burying some houses.

—Hokkaido Earthquake: Footage of landslides in the town of Atsuma appears to be devastating, with many homes crushed just after 3 am, presumably when the residents were at home sleeping. Death toll is unfortunately likely to be high.

—Hokkaido Earthquake: Shinkansen and train services in Hokkaido shut down and there is no set schedule for resuming operations.

—Hokkaido Earthquake: Flights are being cancelled to Shin-Chitose Airport in Hokkaido. ANA says there will none of its flights all day. Wow. Today in Japan the largest airport in the Kansai and the largest in Hokkaido are both closed.

—Hokkaido Earthquake: Public transportation in Hokkaido looks like it will be shut down for at least the entire day, including shinkansen, trains, subways, airplanes, and many buses. Anyone in Hokkaido isn’t going to get far today.

—Hokkaido Earthquake: The Self-Defense Forces have begun to deploy in Hokkaido to assist with relief efforts.

—Hokkaido Earthquake: As usual with such major earthquakes, Japanese authorities are warning that major aftershocks are possible for about a week, and so special care should be taken.

—Hokkaido Earthquake: Current casualty figures are 19 listed as missing and about 400 serious injuries. These numbers are expected to rise.

—Hokkaido Earthquake: Hokkaido Electric gives a more pessimistic outlook for restoration of electricity services than METI. They explain that their thermal power stations were knocked out of service by the earthquake.

—Hokkaido Earthquake: At Shin-Chitose Airport, all fights cancelled for the entire day. That’s more than 200 cancelled flights affecting about 40,000 scheduled passengers.

—Hokkaido Earthquake: The power outage is spread across all of Hokkaido, leaving just short of 3 million homes and buildings without electricity. It remains unclear when power will be restored.

—Hokkaido Earthquake: Mobile phone services are also knocked out in most or all of Hokkaido. Some homes have lost water and sewage services where the earthquake damaged water mains.

—Hokkaido Earthquake: Hundreds of people are lining up at home appliance and similar stores, and also places where drinking water is being distributed.

—Hokkaido Earthquake: First earthquake death confirmed in Mukawa town.

—Hokkaido Earthquake: Current casualty figures are 1 dead, 39 listed as missing, and hundreds of serious injuries. These numbers are expected to rise.

—Hokkaido Earthquake: Hokkaido Electric finally admits that the power outage is affecting the whole of Hokkaido, the entire area they serve.

—Hokkaido Earthquake: Hokkaido Electric’s Tomato-Atsuma Thermal Power Plant was significantly damaged in the earthquake, and it seems that there will be no quick resumption of electricity services for part or all of Hokkaido.

—Typhoon No. 21: It’s now clarified that about 7,200 had been stranded overnight at Kansai International Airport without electricity on Tuesday night. Most of them have now been able to leave.

—Typhoon No. 21: Damage at Kansai International Airport is said to be very serious. It’s not quite clear to what degree it will be able to really meet the Abe government’s demand that it resume domestic flights tomorrow.

—Hokkaido Earthquake: Tomari Nuclear Power Plant in Hokkaido is running on emergency generators to cool its fuel. It is said to be able to continue doing so for about a week.

—Hokkaido Earthquake: Current casualty figures are 9 dead, 33 listed as missing, and hundreds of serious injuries.

—Hokkaido Earthquake: Japan Meteorological Agency revises its estimate upward and now says that this morning’s earthquake was a “Shindo 7” earthquake in terms of its intensity at ground level.

—Hokkaido Earthquake: Power services have been restored to portions of Sapporo city.

—Hokkaido Earthquake: Electricity services have been restored to about half of the buildings and homes in Hokkaido. The other half has now gone well over a day without power services.

—Both Kansai International Airport (Osaka) and Shin-Chitose Airport (Hokkaido) have resumed a partial schedule of flights today. It seems that the full recovery at Kansai International Airport, however, will come much slower due to the extensive water damage.

—Hokkaido Earthquake: Shortly before 3pm, all lines on the Sapporo subway resumed full services.

—Hokkaido Earthquake: Current casualty figures are 30 dead, 9 listed as missing, and hundreds of serious injuries.

—Hokkaido Earthquake: Hokkaido Electric has been able to restore power services to almost all buildings and houses.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to make a tour of earthquake damaged areas of Hokkaido on Sunday.

Politics

—The decades-old anti-faction movement inside the Liberal Democratic Party seems to have lost steam. Even Seiko Noda, twice unable to gather enough support to run for party president, seems to be acknowledging that not joining a faction means self-marginalization.

—Remarkably, but revealingly, Shigeru Ishiba’s slogan of promoting “honest and fair” politics is being understood by many ruling party lawmakers as an unacceptable personal attack on Shinzo Abe. Some executives are outraged and want Ishiba to drop the slogan.

—Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike again fails to recognize the anniversary of the thousands of Koreans massacred in the wake of the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake. Pandering to rightwing racism, Koike appears to be trying whitewash an ugly episode in Japanese modern history.

—What a surprise that Shinzo Abe gives his exclusive interview to the Sankei Shinbun. Just like Donald Trump only wants to talk to Fox News. They get to pretend that they’ve faced the news media when they’ve really just chatted with their ideological camp followers.

Mainichi Shinbun Poll: Despite the fact that it has dropped out of the headlines, Shinzo Abe has completely failed to persuade the public that he is innocent in the Moritomo and Kake Gakuen scandals. Only 13% of the public says the Abe government explanations are credible.

—Division within the LDP Takeshita Faction deepens as members of the faction set up two separate election headquarters, one supporting Shigeru Ishiba, one supporting Shinzo Abe. The faction’s former leader, Fukushiro Nukaga, leads the pro-Abe team, splitting from Wataru Takeshita.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe preaches to Self-Defense Forces about his desire to rewrite the pacifist constitution, allegedly to allow the military to feel pride once again. Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi quickly responds, saying, “I cannot accept that.”

—Former Abe Cabinet ministers Gen Nakatani and Yuko Obuchi will be supporting Shigeru Ishiba’s candidacy as Liberal Democratic Party president this month.

—Yuichiro Tamaki has won the first election as leader of the Democratic Party For the People.

—Shinzo Abe expected to crush Shigeru Ishiba in the Liberal Democratic Party presidential race with more than 80% of the lawmakers’ votes and about 60-70% of the party chapter votes.

—Denny Tamaki’s departure to run in the Okinawa gubernatorial election is putting Ichiro Ozawa’s Liberal Party on the precipice of dissolution once again. They will likely lose their caucus in the House of Representatives.

International

—Okinawa Prefectural Government revokes its permission for landfill operations to construct the US Marine airbase at Henoko, setting up another battle with the Abe administration and, in reality behind Abe, the US Pentagon.

—Resistance Is Futile: The major political factor working against the All-Okinawa movement in what could be its last stand in the gubernatorial elections at the end of this month is the sentiment that Washington and Tokyo will simply crush their resistance without shame.

—Campaign period begins for Nago City Council elections. Election Day is September 9. A key point to watch is whether the anti-base movement can keep their majority in the body even after the anti-base Mayor Susumu Inamine was defeated in February.

Mainichi Shinbun Poll: A plurality of the Japanese public opposes the construction of the US Marine airbase by a 42% to 33% margin. Needless to say, conservatives and rightwingers largely support the base construction, while liberals and centrists tend to oppose it.

—As expected, conservative Okinawa gubernatorial candidate Atsushi Sakima releases his policy pledges saying nothing about the biggest issue, Henoko base construction. The Abe government strategy is to completely avoid the issue during the election campaign. This is a repeat of the strategy they used successfully in the Nago mayoral elections in February. Sakima will likely keep his focus on promises of economic development. The All-Okinawa candidate, Denny Tamaki, will also need a strong economic message to prevail.

—A local citizens’ group collects over 93,000 signatures calling for a referendum on the Henoko base construction plan and delivers it to the prefectural government. They want a chance to directly express the popular verdict on the Henoko plan. Since the Abe government and other conservatives are eager to claim that the anti-base sentiment on Okinawa is exaggerated by the activists or contradicted by election results, this would be a good method of understanding the real nature of Okinawan public opinion.

—International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach says that Olympic flame lighting ceremony for the 2020 Summer Games will take place on March 11, 2020, as a tribute to the victims of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe calls the Washington Post liars (to the Japanese media), says that US President Donald Trump never made the “I remember Pearl Harbor” comment.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe tells the Sankei Shinbun that “the Japan-China relationship has completely returned to a normal track.” Of course, we’re not exactly sure what Shinzo Abe feels is the “normal” state for this relationship.

Asahi Shinbun: Documents show that the GSDF base in South Sudan was sprayed with gunfire on July 10-11, 2016, but once again this was concealed from the Japanese public in the typical pattern of Abe government lies about such matters. The rule of thumb for the Abe government seems to be that any development that might add credence to opposition party criticisms will be suppressed and hidden from the public, if there is any way of doing so.

—The Comfort Women memorial statue in San Francisco has been vandalized on more than one occasion in recent weeks. The vandals’ identity is not known, but this is the same memorial that Osaka Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura must be removed or he will sever all sister city relations.

—US President Donald Trump brags to the Wall Street Journal that he has a tremendous relationship with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, then adds in connection to trade policy, “Of course that will end as soon as I tell them how much they have to pay.”

Economy

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vows to take (unspecified) further measures to ensure that more than 40 million foreign tourists visit Japan in the Olympic year of 2020. This year tourist arrivals are on pace to cross the 30 million level.

—The sixteen nations involved in the process call for “the substantial conclusion of the RCEP negotiations this year” as they conclude their latest meeting in Singapore.

—Abe administration reportedly preparing to buckle once again to US pressure and halt oil imports from Iran. And the fact that it was the United States and not Iran which broke the nuclear deal? It doesn’t appear to matter: the Iranians to be punished for Trump’s perfidy.

—Nidec, a Japanese manufacturer of electric motors, plans to buy five German robotics companies by the end of March. Their focus is on the production of robot parts and sales expansion in Europe.

—Although he doesn’t put it in these terms, Shinzo Abe is promising his party to be the world leader in combatting Trump administration trade policies. Not calling out Trump or the United States by name, he is denouncing “protectionism” and vowing to defeat it.

—Central Japan Railway is in a dispute with Shizuoka Governor Heita Kawakatsu over the construction of the Tokyo-Nagoya maglev train. The tunnel construction will affect the amount of water in the Oi River. The railway is considering building without Shizuoka’s approval.

—India’s National Democratic Alliance government has revealed its plans to buy 18 Shinkansen trains from Japan. The budget designated for this investment is around 70 billion Rupees (about US$970 million). The first bullet train is scheduled to run in India in 2022.

—Toyota plans to withdraw around one million hybrid car models globally due to an issue with the engine wire harness which can lead to a car fire. The affected models include those produced between 2015 and 2018 in Japan.

—On Thursday Uber announced that it had made an agreement with Fuji Taxi Group to expand its services to Nagoya in Japan. Uber vehicles will cover around 5% of the Japanese cabs. Uber also plans to make a deal with other taxi companies in the near future.

—Two energy companies, J-Power of Japan and Engie of France, have signed a memorandum on renewable energy development. They aim to expand offshore floating wind technology in Japan and Europe.

—Abe government planning a supplementary budget to fund recovery efforts in regions hit by natural disasters this summer. The proposed extra budget expected to be in the 1 trillion yen (about US$9.1 billion) range.

Technology

—LINE to launch its own cryptocurrency called LINK this month. However, it will not be available in either Japan or the United States due to these governments’ regulatory policies.

—In what is likely to become a global standard in future years, Tsukuba city has launched Japan’s first system for voting in elections that is conducted online using blockchain technology.

—MUFG Bank looks to be the first Japanese bank to begin accepting cryptocurrency. They began experimenting with a “MUFG Coin” in May and is now allowing the bank’s employees to begin using the cryptocurrency for payments.

—Two Japanese scientists from Shizuoka University plan to launch two satellites on September 11, which will be sent to the International Space Station (ISS) as space elevators, attached by a steel cable. This development aims to allow for future space travel.

Society

—Osaka High Court rules against the state and construction material makers, ordering damages be paid over the exposure to asbestos of 27 construction workers.

—Activists submit a petition to the Liberal Democratic Party with over 26,000 signatures calling on party lawmaker Mio Sugita to apologize for writing that LGBT people are unproductive and that no tax money ought to be spent on them.

—Y&M Fujikake Daiichi Hospital Director Yosei Fujikake’s lamest excuse for how five patients were left to die of heatstroke after the air conditioning in their rooms broke down, and they were left in very high temperatures: “There were patients who disliked air conditioners.”

—Health Ministry estimates that 930,000 junior high and high school students overuse or are addicted to the internet.

—Plastic Pollution: A six-month-old blue whale washed up dead on the beaches of Kamakura. The cause of death hasn’t been determined, but the whale had plastic garbage in its stomach. Whales of that age normally only drink their mother’s milk.

—Japan Meteorological Agency reports that the average temperature in Eastern Japan between June and August was the hottest ever recorded since measurements began in 1946.

—The new Imperial Era name to be unveiled next year is expected to begin with a Latin letter other than M, T, S, or H in order to avoid confusion with the Meiji, Taisho, Showa and Heisei eras. Sometimes a form of shorthand is used that renders, for example, 2018 as H.30.

—Health Ministry publicly acknowledges for the first time that a Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant worker died from the radiation exposure that he received after the March 11, 2011, disaster.

Note: There were no separate “Today in Japan” reports issued between September 1 and September 7.

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