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Abe Regime Dismisses Democratic Verdict in Okinawa

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

Top Headline

—New Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya is having nothing of this ‘democracy’ and ‘right to self-determination’ business going on in Okinawa: “The government remains committed to relocating the Futenma base to Henoko promptly.” Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki responds, “With my whole mind and body, I will do my best to achieve the return of Futenma base as early as possible, and to halt the construction of a new base in Henoko.” Meanwhile, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga repeats the discredited mantra that “Henoko is the Only Option” for US Marine realignment, and says he is eager to “politely explain” this to new Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki.

Politics

—”The society where women are truly engaged has just started off here in Japan,” says seven-year veteran Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, trying to defend his appointment of only one female minister to his new Cabinet.

—Opposition parties planning Diet debate on question of whether or not some of Abe’s new ministers are really qualified for their jobs, or if they were selected merely as a political payoff to the Liberal Democratic Party faction leaders who supported Abe’s reelection.

—The new Abe Cabinet gets poor reviews from the general public as well. Kyodo News poll shows 45% unimpressed by the new line-up of ministers, while only 31% give it high marks.

—Rightwing military man Masahisa Sato reappointed Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs.

—And the award for the first gaffe of the new Abe Cabinet goes to… Education Minister Masahiko Shibayama, who says its “worth considering” reviving the use of the Meiji-era Imperial Rescript on Education, used in wartime Japan to encourage dying in military battle.

—Recognizing how bad their Cabinet reshuffle looked in terms of its near-absence of women, the LDP to give high-profile committee chairs to a couple of female lawmakers. For example, Seiko Noda to chair the House of Representatives Budget Committee.

—Public opinion polls have shown progressive political parties losing some ground against conservative political parties over the past year or so. A lack of serious attention from the mainstream corporate media probably one key factor.

—It’s looking increasingly likely that when the Abe government proposes its revisions to Article Nine of the Constitution, it will do so without Komeito at its side. This could be one issue on which the ruling coalition parties take different paths.

—Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan preparing to run two candidates in some three-member House of Councillors districts. They are not going along with the Democratic Party For the People’s idea that the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan should support more candidates from other opposition parties.

International

—Richard Armitage, Joseph Nye, Michael Green, etc., have released another report calling for the “strengthening” of the US-Japan Alliance, once again demanding that US imperial interests be militarily defended to the last drop of Japanese blood.

—Refusing to bow to Osaka Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura’s rightwing ideological demands and the severing of sister city relations, a spokesperson for San Francisco Mayor London Breed indicates to the local media that the Comfort Women statue “isn’t going anywhere.” We wonder when, if ever, will Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura, the Sankei Shinbun, and all their rabid rightwing followers, realize that NO ONE else in the world, rival or ally alike, supports their historical revisionism and denial of Pacific War atrocities.

—San Francisco Mayor London Breed on Osaka Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura: “One mayor cannot unilaterally end a relationship that exists between the people of our two cities, especially one that has existed for over sixty years.”

—Former Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda makes some wise and sensible public comments about the Nanjing Massacre. He says its not a matter of agreeing on the number of victims, but that Japanese need to seriously reflect on the reality of the massacre and what it did to China.

—The Abe government pulls the Maritime Self-Defense Forces out of the international fleet review after South Korea asked that the wartime Rising Sun flag not be used. The Abe government claims that not using the flag would be “illegal” and so there’s nothing they can do.

—Cambodian strongman Hun Sen to Kyodo News: “Japan is a model of democracy that we should learn from.” When a leader who muzzles all critical newspapers and throws opposition leaders in prison calls a nation a “model of democracy,” how should that be understood?

—Self-Defense Forces troops engaged in joint exercises with Philippine and US troops storming beaches in the Philippines with armored vehicles. Such offensive exercises, we are given to believe, are needed for the defense of the Japanese home islands and okay by Article Nine. A Ground Self-Defense Forces sergeant dies when two vehicles crash into each other.

Economy

—Financial Services Agency to suspend Shizuoka-based Suruga Bank’s real estate financing operations after it was caught forging loan screening documents, fabricating bank balance information, etc. The suspension likely to last several months.

—US Vice-President Mike Pence: “We will soon begin negotiating a historic bilateral Free Trade Agreement with Japan.” The Abe government still insists that an “FTA” is not the purpose of the upcoming bilateral talks.

—Abe government aiming to end system whereby people in many fields must retire at age 65.

Technology

—Tokyo Metropolitan Government to test out robots for helping to guide subway passengers to their nearest exit or to toilets, etc.

Society

—Warnings of major earthquake hit smartphones in Tokyo region, but earthquake appears to be very minor. The quake was a 4.6 magnitude off the coast of Chiba Prefecture, barely felt in Tokyo. It appears that the momentary, original estimate of the size of the earthquake off Chiba was that it was much stronger, perhaps about 6.7 magnitude, rather than the 4.6 magnitude of the following and more accurate estimate.

—The temperature in Niigata Prefecture reached 35.5 degrees celsius, which is a new all-time Japan record for the month of October.

—Over Liberal Democratic Party objections, Governor Yuriko Koike’s allies and others in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly passed the ordinance banning discrimination against the LGBT community, and endorsed awareness-building measures towards a more diverse society.

—Tsukiji is done as the center of the Tokyo fish market. The last tuna auction was held and the new Toyosu site takes over from next week.

Note: There were no separate “Today in Japan” reports issued between October 4 and October 6.

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