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Japan Times Goes Rightwing

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

Top Headline

—Wow! Even we did not expect the new owners of the Japan Times to collapse so openly and shamefully in the face of Abe government pressure.

—Suppose we should have expected it, but it seems Japan’s internet rightwingers, the usual suspects, are now rising to the Japan Times’ defense, celebrating their shameful collapse to the Abe government. Congrats, JT, on the company you now keep!


—Jiji Press discovers, wide-eyed, that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s strong support for Osaka’s World Expo bid had – gasp! – domestic political objectives, like securing the support of the Osaka-based Japan Innovation Party. No, Jiji! Tell us it isn’t true!

—Yoshinobu Nisaka wins fourth term as Governor of Wakayama Prefecture. Unlike many other local politicians, Nisaka has been very open about his intention to bid for an Integrated Resort (casino resort) license as a core part of his policy.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe cancels his plan to visit Britain and the Netherlands in early December, reluctantly concluding under opposition party criticism that he must instead suffer the drudgery of debating his immigration bill in the Diet.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe continues to insist that his new legislation to bring foreign workers to Japan is not “immigration policy.” He defends this word game while admitting that no other country has such a policy.

—Opposition parties led by the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan propose a vote of no confidence against Justice Minister Takashi Yamashita over the immigration bill, but the ruling coalition votes it down.

—Abe government forces passage of the immigration bill through the House of Representatives over strong objections from the opposition parties. The ruling party aiming to enact the legislation before the end of Diet session on December 10.

—Asahi Shinbun argues that the Abe government’s increasingly high-handed behavior in the Diet is eroding the very foundations of parliamentary, democratic government in Japan. They just pass vague bills and fill in the details as they choose later on.

—The fight over the immigration bill has caused Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to delay once again to submit his Constitution revision legislation to the Diet. He now aims to do so early next year.

—Prince Akishino the latest member of the Imperial Family to prove a better defender of the Constitution than the Abe government: “I wonder whether it is appropriate to cover the highly religious event with state funds.” He is speaking of a Shinto ritual for the new Emperor.

—Harumi Takahashi will NOT run for reelection as Hokkaido Governor, possibly throwing casino resort development plans in the prefecture into disarray. She will be running for a seat in the House of Councillors.


—International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach raises to issue of extreme heat endangering the athletes in discussions with Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike. Japan is urged to take measures to protect the athletes as climate change hits harder.

—Okinawa planning to hold its prefecture-wide referendum on Henoko base construction on February 24 of next year. The Abe government has already pledged to dismiss the results, since they believe the consent of the Okinawan people is not required.

—Abe government planning to begin full-scale destruction of the Henoko coastline in about two weeks from now. They are dismissing the objections of the Okinawa government and people and plan to just use force to accomplish it.

—Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki submits the Henoko base-building issue to the Committee for Settling National-Local Disputes, affiliated with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. He says the Abe government’s actions are illegal and must be stopped.

—Committee for Settling National-Local Disputes accepts Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki’s application to submit the Henoko base construction issue to them. The committee will make a judgement by the end of next February.

—Nihon Keizai Shinbun reports that Abe government mulling a US$8.8 billion of 100 F-35 stealth fighters from the United States, in part to head off another Donald Trump tantrum about the bilateral trade balance.

—The Izumo-class helicopter carriers, which we have long been told are definitely NOT aircraft carriers, may soon be converted into, ahem, aircraft carriers, according to the latest reports. The Abe government’s demolition of the Constitution continues, step-by-little-step.


—Charges against Carlos Ghosn appear to be getting increasingly ridiculous. The latest is that Greg Kelly was preparing a possible post-retirement payout to Ghosn which prosecutors demand should have been reported even though nothing was confirmed about the plan.

—Nissan Motor CEO Hiroto Saikawa complains that the alliance with Renault is “not equal,” suggesting again that Nissan now plans to alter the power balance. How much of Saikawa’s dissatisfaction with this issue was part of the move against Carlos Ghosn remains a big question.

—Really? This is the case against Carlos Ghosn? Not that he really falsified his financial reports, but was rather arranging that he would be paid a huge amount after his retirement as chairman? If that’s the case, the way he’s being treated is utterly outrageous.

—As expected, Mitsubishi Motors follows Nissan in stripping Carlos Ghosn of his position as chairman.

—Mitsubishi Motors CEO Osamu Masuko to become interim chairman with the firing of Carlos Ghosn. Even without clear evidence, Mitsubishi Motors axed Ghosn without giving him any chance to defend himself or offer his version of events.

—Tokyo Stock Exchange to conduct its own investigation of Nissan and the Carlos Ghosn issue. In the worst but unlikely case, Nissan could be delisted from the exchange.

—It looks like the whole Carlos Ghosn charge is boiling down to a single legal technicality: Was he legally required to report the possible post-retirement payments that he had arranged for? The prosecutors say “yes,” but the law itself is apparently unclear. If this is what the case against him is all about – a debatable legal requirement – then in our view it is Nissan and the entire establishment that is primarily in the wrong here. This guy gets humiliated and stigmatized around the world over THIS? Not Japan’s finest hour!

—Wall Street Journal denounces “bizarre inquisition” of Carlos Ghosn, saying the Japan is acting more like China than a democratic country: “Such treatment is more appropriate for a yakuza mobster than an international CEO with no previous record of fraud or self-dealing.”

—Nissan planning to install CEO Hiroto Saikawa, who threw Carlos Ghosn under the bus in a press conference, as chairman of the company as well. Meanwhile, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire says that a new Renault executive should be brought in to lead Nissan.

—Reuters gets the scoop that Nissan’s auditor had brought up the Carlos Ghosn pay issues with the company as early as 2013 “in apparent contrast with Nissan’s contention that the alleged misreporting of benefits for Ghosn was masterminded by Ghosn and a key lieutenant.”

—Greg Kelly has told prosecutors that he consulted with a lawyer, an accountant, and even the Financial Service Agency, and they all agreed that Carlos Ghosn’s future payments didn’t need to be reported because they weren’t settled.

—Prosecutor Shin Kukimoto uses one of the oldest excuses in the book to defend his outrageous treatment of Carlos Ghosn: “Each country has its own history and culture… It is not appropriate to criticize a system in another country just because it’s different from your own.”

—Apparently it was the 2008 financial crisis that convinced Carlos Ghosn that he should backload much of his executive payment after retirement. He was concerned that his own huge salary could hurt worker morale at Nissan, so the idea developed from that basis.

—Japanese prosecutors, increasingly embarrassed over an extremely weak case against Carlos Ghosn and Greg Kelly, extend their detention another ten days to December 10. Japan’s “guilty until proven guilty” legal system hard at work to save face.

—Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga describes as “extremely regrettable” the Taiwan referendum result that food products from the Fukushima region will continue to face an import ban.

—Resona Research Institute estimates that about 3 million foreigners will visit the 2025 World Expo in Osaka, almost half of which will come to Japan mainly for that purpose.

—International Monetary Fund says Japan’s economy likely to become much smaller: “Under current policies real GDP will decline by over 25% in 40 years due to demographics.” Meaningful structural reform could mitigate the decline.


—Meeting a government demand, NHK to reduce its television broadcasting fees by 4.5% by FY2020, which NHK says is the sharpest cut possible.

—Tokyo District Court rules that the government must pay 96 million yen (about US$850,000) to 144 residents near Yokota Air Base for damage caused by aircraft noise, but refuses to order changes in base usage. The plaintiffs plan to appeal.

Note: There were no separate “Today in Japan” reports issued between November 26 and November 29.

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