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All-Okinawa Movement Wins in Naha

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

Top Headline

—All-Okinawa candidate Mikiko Shiroma retains her position as Mayor of Naha, another boost to Governor Denny Tamaki and the movement opposing construction of Henoko base.

Politics

—Jiji Press reckons that the list of potential ruling party leadership successors following Abe are as follows: Shigeru Ishiba; Shinjiro Koizumi; Fumio Kishida; Seiko Noda; Taro Kono; Toshimitsu Motegi; and Katsunobu Kato.

—Former Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku has died of lung cancer at age 72. He was a key political figure during the three years of the Democratic Party of Japan regime.

—The far right Party for Japanese Kokoro is about to disappear. Its party leader and final Diet lawmaker, Masashi Nakano, has asked to join the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, and his request is headed for approval.

—With addition of lawmaker Kuniyoshi Noda, the House of Councillors caucus of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan reaches 24, equalling the number of the Democratic Party For the People.

—Two House of Representatives lawmakers leave the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan for separate reasons. One of them, Yuta Hiyoshi, does so to rejoin Ichiro Ozawa’s Liberal Party, allowing it to maintain its House of Representatives caucus.

—The five center-left opposition parties agree to unify their candidacies in all 32 single-seat constituencies of the House of Councillors. It seems there will be little or no coordination in multi-seat constituencies, mainly because the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan is looking for a big advance.

—Sankei Shinbun points out correctly that Yukio Edano has been making many visits to Hokkaido. The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan seems to be targeting the northernmost prefecture to become an electoral stronghold for the progressive party.

—The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan prefectural chapters for Fukushima, Akita, and Yamagata in the Tohoku region to be established before the end of the year.

—Kiyomi Tsujimoto, executive of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, denounces Finance Minister Taro Aso as “the most irresponsible man in Japan.”

—Abe Cabinet’s only female minister, Satsuki Katayama, accused by Shukan Bunshun of influence peddling for money on behalf of a businessman. Katayama hotly denies the Bunshun report and says she plans to sue the magazine.

—About 70 rightwing lawmakers visited War Criminal worshipping Yasukuni Shrine for the annual autumn festival. There were, however, no ministerial-level visitors, contrasting with the earlier Abe era. It’s not difficult to surmise that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe let his ultraconservative new Cabinet members know that he didn’t want them to visit Yasukuni Shrine for the autumn festival, probably because he is at a delicate stage in his attempt at Asian diplomacy. Another element of progress is now that the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and not the now-defunct Democratic Party of Japan is the leading opposition party, you don’t see leading opposition figures visiting Yasukuni Shrine or joining Nippon Kaigi any longer.

—Rightwing opposition lawmakers Akihisa Nagashima and Hirofumi Ryu form their own two-person caucus in the House of Representatives, which they dub “Future Japan.”

International

—Kim Jong-Un has reportedly complained to both Moon Jae-In and Donald Trump that North Korea has made numerous concessions and admissions to Japan over the abductee issue, but each time Tokyo won’t take “yes” for an answer and steps up demands.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has left on a three-nation European tour, encompassing Spain, France, and Belgium. The 12th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) will be held in Brussels on October 18 and 19.

—Meeting his Spanish counterpart, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declares yet another “strategic partnership.”

—The Abe government “unable” to secure a bilateral visit to Japan by South Korean President Moon Jae-In this year. Once again, Abe’s rightwing ideological desire to whitewash wartime Comfort Women history has disrupted the healthy development of this bilateral relationship.

—Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya calls for administrative action to halt Okinawa Prefectural Government’s withdrawal of permission to construct the US Marine airbase at Henoko. It took little time at all for the Abe government to dismiss the results of democracy in Okinawa.

—Asahi Shinbun on Okinawa issue: “The leader of any democratic country should take protests against a government policy from voters very seriously and try to achieve a breakthrough. But the Abe administration is not even pretending to make such efforts. Its behavior is nothing but arrogant.”

—In Singapore, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis instructs his Japanese counterpart, Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya, to dismiss democracy in Okinawa and to stick to the “Henoko is the Only Solution” mantra for US Marine base building. Okinawans to get no choice but to comply.

—Russian President Vladimir Putin makes clear that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe rejected his proposal to sign a Pacific War peace treaty in the absence of a final settlement of the Southern Kuriles – Northern Territories dispute.

—Abe government is so far saying nothing and doing nothing about Saudi Arabia’s probable torture and murder of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi. When asked directly, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga would only say that Japan expected a fair and transparent investigation. Mohammad bin Salman ordered the torture and murder of Khashoggi with the clear expectation that his own money, power, and relationship with Donald Trump protected him from serious consequences. MBS so far proving to be correct.

—Abe government continues to ignore 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which won a Nobel Peace Prize, pretending that it doesn’t exist. The Abe regime says it is against nuclear weapons while at the same time opposing the elimination of nuclear weapons.

Economy

—For the first time in almost six years, the monthly figures on inbound tourism to Japan have shown a decrease. In September the number of foreign tourists fell by 5.3% from the previous year’s figure. It appears that major typhoons and earthquakes were the cause.

—Economic Revitalization Minister Toshimitsu Motegi on CPTPP: “Japan will take a leading role in making sure that the pact will take effect early next year.”

—Trump administration informs the US Congress that it intends to negotiate a bilateral trade agreement with Japan, probably early next year. The Abe government has now agreed to bilateral talks, but had earlier insisted it opposed any new bilateral trade agreement.

—US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says that the Trump regime expects concessions from Japan on agriculture tariffs that are “equal or better than the TPP deal.”

—Latest Japanese data falsification scandal is KYB Corporation, which sold substandard earthquake shock absorbers for almost a thousand buildings, including Tokyo Skytree. Osaka Governor Ichiro Matsui says this company needs to understand that it has put lives at risk.

—Toyota Motor head Akio Toyoda on Brexit negotiations: “We hope that both the UK and EU governments will continue to make maximum efforts to reach a satisfactory settlement and that a ‘withdrawal without agreement’ is avoided at all costs.”

Technology

—Abe government wants to push the reluctant Japanese public to use more cashless payments, perhaps by giving a temporary tax discount of 2% on some items once consumption taxes are raised to 10% in October 2019. Japanese currently make more than 80% of payments by cash.

Society

—Record-breaking heat is confusing the iconic cherry blossom trees (sakura) into partially blooming now… in October. The usual summer mosquitoes seem to be appearing in the autumn as well. This all fits with scientists’ climate change predictions, endangering many species.

Note: There were no separate “Today in Japan” reports issued between October 16 and October 20.

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