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Most Japanese No Longer See United States As Friend

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

Top Headline

—Yomiuri-Gallop Poll: The Japanese feelings of friendship toward the United States has plunged dramatically under the Trump administration. Last year, 56% of Japanese felt friendly toward the United States. This year, only 39% of Japanese regard the United States as a friend. Also, the Japanese public is now evenly split between those who see the United States as a force for good (39%) and those who see it as a negative force in world affairs (39%).

Politics

—Harumi Takahashi confirms that she will not be running for a new term as Hokkaido Governor next spring, but will instead become a Liberal Democratic Party candidate in the July House of Councillors elections.

—Kenji Eda to join the parliamentary caucus of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, though he will formally remain an independent and not join the party. He says that the opposition needs to reconsolidate in order to fight the ruling coalition.

—Former Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda to join the parliamentary caucus of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan. There are many complaints online from those who don’t want the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan to open its doors to the relatively conservative, pro-nuclear, Democratic Party of Japan-destroying Noda.

—Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan decides to quickly accept six of the thirteen members of the soon-to-be-defunct Group of Independents into their parliamentary caucus. The best known of the six is former Finance Minister Jun Azumi.

—Kyodo News Poll: Less than a quarter (24.8%) approve of the Abe government ramming the immigration bill through the Diet. Almost 2/3 (65.8%) say they oppose the government’s action.

—Kyodo News Poll: Support for the Abe Cabinet drops almost 5 points to 42.4%. A plurality now moves to non-support. SNA’s analysis is that most of this decline comes from rightwingers who are unhappy with Abe’s new immigration law, which some of them view as a betrayal.

—Ruling party-backed Yoshinori Yamaguchi elected to a second term as Governor of Saga Prefecture. He has been at the center of Osprey aircraft basing issues in recent months.

—Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan Secretary-General Tetsuro Fukuyama says that this year’s representative kanji shouldn’t be “disaster” but rather “forgery” in reference to the corruption of national bureaucracy by the Abe government.

—Two rightwing opposition political parties, the Osaka-based Japan Innovation Party and the rump version of Party of Hope, to merge into a single parliamentary caucus.

—Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan expects to have established party chapters in 40 of the 47 prefectures by the end of this month. Their national party framework is still under construction.

International

—Asahi Shinbun Editorial: “Abe likes to stress the importance of ‘democracy’ and ‘rule of law,’ usually in allusion to issues concerning China and North Korea. But his behavior at home stands in stark contradiction to what he says.”

—Abe government approves new “Defense Guidelines” which call for even higher military budget and the conversion of the Izumo from a “helicopter carrier” into Japan’s first full-scale postwar aircraft carrier. Abe continues to behave as if Article Nine already doesn’t exist.

—Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan Secretary-General Tetsuro Fukuyama hits the plan to convert the Izumo into a full-fledged aircraft carrier: “This creates the possibility of evading the ‘defense only’ security policy and that’s an extremely serious problem.”

—Kyodo News Poll: The general public opposes the construction of the new US Marine air base at Henoko by a 56.5% to 35.3% margin.

—“Everybody let’s protect Okinawa!” The ubiquitous fashion model Rola makes national headlines by encouraging the campaign to stop US Marine base construction at Henoko. Japanese celebrities almost never make political statements, and are usually punished when they do.

—The Abe government going full speed to disrupt the Okinawa referendum on Henoko base construction so that they can continue to claim that public opinion isn’t clear. Conservative-controlled cities like Miyakojima vowing not to cooperate with the prefectural government.

—Japanese social media has been lit up by reports that more than 60% of South Koreans favor building a mostly undersea highway from Busan to Kyushu, via Tsushima, that would link the two countries directly.

—Pope Francis trying to arrange to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki about a year from now, around the end of 2019.

—US military on verge of agreeing to give Japan increased rights to use the airspace over Tokyo. The agreement, when implemented, will facilitate commercial use of the airspace near Haneda Airport, saving a lot of time and money.

Economy

—Hitachi’s involvement in constructing the Wylfa Newydd Nuclear Power Plant in the United Kingdom appears to have collapsed entirely as the company announces that it is freezing its plans. It’s another major fiasco for Abe’s nuclear energy export policies.

—Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga says that the total number of inbound foreign tourists to Japan in 2018 will top 31 million when all the figures are in.

Society

—A restaurant in Sapporo explodes, injuring 42 people. Investigators have determined that it was caused by the staff of the next door real estate office. Preparing to throw away 120 deodorizer spray cans, they emptied all the cans. Water heater then turned on. Boom!

—World Economic Forum ranks Japan 110 out of 149 surveyed countries for gender equality. Japan suffers particularly from the very small number of women allowed to hold positions of power in both politics and business.

—JR East launching campaign calling on passengers to stop walking on station escalators. They want other passengers to block people from walking by standing two abreast. So far the campaign is limited to Tokyo Station.

—The same rightwing lawmakers who demanded that the new Imperial Era name not be released early are now being forced to use the Western calendar for events being scheduled next year after May. Calendar-makers too are forced to use 2019 for their sales.

Note: There were no separate “Today in Japan” reports issued between December 16 and December 18.

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