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Yasukuni Chief Priest Forced to Resign for Criticizing Emperor Akihito

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

Top Headline

—Rightwingers’ frustration with Emperor Akihito for failing to help them revive “emperor-centric” militarism surfaces as Yasukuni chief priest taped saying that Akihito is trying to “crush” the war criminal-honoring shrine. The chief priest, Kunio Kohori, now forced to resign.

Politics

—Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan on verge of matching Democratic Party For the People’s number of 24 House of Councillors lawmakers. This despite the fact no House of Councillors election has taken place since the progressive party’s creation in October 2017.

—A small trickle of lawmakers continues to quit the centrist Democratic Party For the People and to join the progressive Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, which is clearly the future of the Japanese opposition parties.

—Fukushima gubernatorial election scheduled October 28. There are four candidates, but most major political parties lining up behind incumbent Masao Uchibori.

—Osaka Governor Ichiro Matsui under fire for sneaking out to his official car to secretly smoke cigarettes. The prefectural offices are now smoke-free.

International

—New Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki meets new Okinawa Minister Mitsuhiro Miyakoshi. Tamaki hands Miyakoshi a letter demanding that the US Marines be relocated outside of Okinawa Prefecture and that Henoko base construction be halted.

—Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga heckled at former Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga’s funeral by some members of the audience. The cries were “Liar!” (when he spoke of his efforts to reduce the US base burden on the prefecture) and “Go Home!”

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meets Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi and utters not a single public criticism about the genocidal violence waged by her country’s military against the Rohingya Muslim minority. This has been a consistent part of “Abe Diplomacy” in which human rights issues are raised publicly only with regional rivals like North Korea or China, but never with countries that Abe hopes will form part of an anti-China alliance in Asia.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe re-emphasizing the need for “future-oriented” Japan-South Korea relations, by which he means letting the Japanese rightwing whitewash wartime history while Koreans pretend it isn’t happening and silently look to the future.

—People with Japanese passports now have visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 190 nations, which is more than any other national passport. The postwar peace diplomacy which Shinzo Abe abhors has made Japanese travelers welcome almost everywhere.

—US President Donald Trump: “Every year, over eight million tons of garbage is dumped into our beautiful oceans by many countries of the world. That includes China, that includes Japan, that includes many, many countries.”

Economy

—Board of Audit estimates 2020 Tokyo Olympics could cost 3 trillion yen (about US$26.3 billion). When Shinzo Abe submitted his bid to the International Olympic Committee in 2013, he estimated a US$5 billion cost, less than 20% of the current Board of Audit estimate.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reiterates that the United Kingdom is welcome to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

—ProPublica story on Sheldon Adelson, Donald Trump, and Shinzo Abe’s efforts to push for the legalization of casinos in Japan is getting a lot of attention both internationally and domestically.

—Abe government stands by its earlier denial that US President Donald Trump had asked Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to select Las Vegas Sands for one of the three casino licenses to be issued in a couple years. Once again, the Abe regime denies any inconvenient fact.

—Sharp drops in stock markets in New York, Tokyo, and elsewhere. Of course it remains unclear if this is just a blip or a signal of a more sustained decline.

—Finance Minister Taro Aso: “Global stock prices have fallen sharply and we’ve seen some currency fluctuations. But there’s no change to our view the global economy, including the US economy, remains on a firm note.”

—Abe government debating just how far to relax immigration policies. On the one hand, the economy is in desperate need of additional labor. On the other hand, they hate, hate the idea of letting many more foreigners live in Japan permanently.

—The Tomato-Atsuma Thermal Power Plant has now fully recovered its operations, more than a month after the September 6 Hokkaido Earthquake.

—Japan Tourism Agency believes that about 5,000 lodgings rendered illegal by the terms of the Minpaku Law are still being advertised by Airbnb and other sites. The law was largely a big political win for the hotel industry, which wanted to stamp out the cheaper alternatives.

Technology

—Hayabusa-2 spacecraft to delay its landing on the asteroid Ryugu for a couple months. The scientists had expected the surface to be flat, but the pictures from the rovers revealed that the entire asteroid surface is rocky and rugged.

Society

—Atsuyuki Sassa, the first national security / crisis management head for the postwar Cabinet Office, appointed during the Nakasone era, passes away at age 87.

Note: There were no separate “Today in Japan” reports issued between October 8 and October 11.

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