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Korean Forced Labor Ruling Rattles Abe’s Cage

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

Top Headline

—South Korean President Moon Jae-In’s visit to Japan by year’s end apparently cancelled by the Abe government’s latest tantrum over wartime history. They are angry with the South Korean Supreme Court’s judgment against Nippon Steel over forced labor compensation. Indeed, Abe denounces as “unbelievable” the South Korean Supreme Court judgement and declares, “We will take resolute actions, with an eye on all possible options, including international adjudication.” Moreover, the Abe government tells major Japanese corporations that they should refuse to pay any compensation to wartime victims of forced labor. (Shinzo Abe’s grandfather and his hero Nobusuke Kishi was deemed a Class A War Criminal precisely for implementing such policies in Manchukuo).


—Protest against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s attempt to revise the Constitution pulls out an estimated 18,000 participants in front of the Diet Building.

—For those analysts who may be confused, Shinzo Abe’s sudden interest in importing more foreign labor is NOT because he is now a convert to policies of openness or diversity, but because Keidanren, one of his main political backers, is demanding cheaper labor options.


—Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki planning visit to the United States later this month to appeal for the halting of the construction of the US Marines airbase at Henoko.

—The Abe government has restarted construction of the US Marines airbase at Henoko, defying the Okinawa government and the majority of its people.

—Damage caused by Typhoon No. 24 to Motobu port in Okinawa is proving a more formidable obstacle to Henoko base construction. The Defense Ministry planned to use the port to load sand and rocks for Henoko landfill, but currently have no port access.

—The island of Esanbe Hanakita Kojima, near Northern Hokkaido, has disappeared, probably because of erosion. This is expected to slightly reduce the size of Japanese territorial waters.

—The disappearance of the small island of Esanbe Hanakita Kojima near Northern Hokkaido has become fodder for overseas tabloids, describing a non-existent “frantic hunt” to find the now-submerged landmass. This is what passes as “news” these days, it seems.

—Unindicted War Criminal Dick Cheney to receive from the Abe government the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun. Suppose we must be pleased that they will at least refrain from enshrining his spirit at Yasukuni Shrine. He should be in prison, not receiving medals.


—MUFG Bank quietly becomes the first Japanese bank to open a branch in Saudi Arabia. The murder of Jamal Khashoggi induced them to cancel the opening ceremony, but not to delay or terminate the branch opening. It’s business as usual after slaughtering the journalist.

—Shinzo Abe adds caveat to his plan to raise the national consumption tax from 8% to 10%: “We will proceed with the tax hike unless the economy is hit by a shock of the scale of the collapse of Lehman Brothers.”

—Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership negotiations said to be advancing more slowly than hoped, with no basic agreement in place by the end of the year, though they will claim to be making “progress.” India is apparently one of the most reluctant to compromise.

—The Trump administration imposes unilateral sanctions against Iran because the Iranians, uhh, maintained their commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal, but the US didn’t. Japan among the countries given a partial “waiver” to continue oil imports for some months.

—National Tax Agency received data on about 550,000 bank accounts of Japanese citizens in other countries. This data has been received just since September under a new information-sharing agreement between more than 80 nations. The intent is to crack down on tax evasion.


—Bank of Japan survey on cashless payments: By 2016 about 80% of payments made in Japan were still being done with cash. The corresponding figure for South Korea was 11%.


—New visa categories expected to substantially increase the size of the foreign community working in Japan. The estimate is that an additional 250,000 foreigners will be added to the labor force in the first five years of the new system.

Note: There were no separate “Today in Japan” reports issued between November 1 and November 3.

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