Browse By

Japan and South Korea Engage in Tit-for-Tat

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

Rolling Coverage: Clash with South Korea

—South Korea’s Defense Ministry fires back at the Abe administration, demanding an apology for the “menacing” low-level flights over its warships, and calling on Japan to stop distorting facts about the December 20 encounter.

—Masahisa Sato, the rightwing former military man now appointed as Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, taking to Twitter to argue against the South Korean Defense Ministry’s counter-accusation that Japanese patrol planes acted dangerously in the December 20 encounter.

—South Korea National Security Council: “The members discussed the seriousness of the incident where a Japanese patrol aircraft staged a close flyby at a low altitude while our ship was in an urgent situation to rescue a drifting North Korean fishing boat in the East Sea.”

—South Korea’s Defense Ministry releases its own video on the December 20 incident with Japan.

—Foreign Minister Taro Kono is apparently now making efforts to cool down the diplomatic crisis with South Korea that the Abe government itself ignited over the December 20 maritime incident, when they themselves turned it into a public dispute rather than handle it quietly.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe preparing “specific measures based on international law” to retaliate against South Korea if it carries out its Supreme Court’s judgement and seizes some Nippon Steel assets over the use of forced labor during the Pacific War.

—JoongAng Daily: “We’re dumbfounded both countries are engaged in a heated diplomatic tit-for-tat over the incident involving South Korean destroyers and Japanese patrol aircraft last month… They should join forces to address the nuclear threats from North Korea and other issues.”

—Ruling party extremism going to the next level. Some senior Liberal Democratic Party leaders calling for the South Korea radar incident to be raised as an issue in the UN Security Council and to withdraw the Japanese ambassador from Seoul once again.

Politics

—2019 will be a huge year for local government elections in Japan, especially in April. Up for grabs are at least twenty Governor posts and over four hundred Mayor posts, plus many prefectural assembly elections and city councils. It’s a chance especially for the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan to grow its network.

—Ichiro Ozawa greets the political world in 2019 by warning that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe could pull a surprise this year by calling a snap general election to coincide with the July House of Councillors elections. He says that the opposition needs to prepare for it.

—Yukio Edano agrees with the analysis that it is quite possible that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may call a double election in July, and he says the opposition parties need to be ready for it. This summer should become the turning point for protecting constitutionalism.

—Komeito is unhappy with the prospect of a double election in July, as speculation grows. This opposition was to be expected, as double elections tend to raise voter turnout and Komeito does better when fewer people vote, relying on their religious base.

—In case you are wondering what Prime Minister Shinzo Abe did on New Years Day, he and Akie went to see Bohemian Rhapsody, the biographical film about Queen vocalist Freddie Mercury. He told reporters that he liked it.

—Jiji Press, a major news agency, has apparently become the latest to buckle under to Abe government ideology and to start calling “forced labor” as “wartime labor,” as if the issue was the time period and not the brutal coercion of the laborers.

—Both the conservatives and liberals are having much trouble finding their candidates for the Hokkaido gubernatorial race in April. Those who have been proposed keep declining, so neither side has a clear strategy yet.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: “The time has come to deepen the discussions about the future of this nation.” This is being understood as his declaration that Constitution revision legislation will be introduced to the Diet soon.

—Anti-LGBT sentiment again emerges from the rightwing of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. Lawmaker Katsuei Hirasawa publicly declares, “If men marry men and women marry women… the nation will be destroyed.”

—SNA Data Sheet: Since its founding in October 2017, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, the nation’s leading opposition party, has polled in a band basically between 5% and 10% of Japanese calling themselves supporters.

—SNA Data Sheet: Since its founding, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan has clearly been ahead of the other opposition parties, but has yet to close the gap in public support with the Liberal Democratic Party, which has maintained a roughly 25 point lead all along.

—Yoshimi Watanabe reportedly planning to revive Your Party, his 2009-2014 opposition party which, though small, did manage to create a clear policy identity as the political party for neoliberal, pro-business economics.

International

—Chinese research ship conducts surveys near Okinotori, which Japan claims is an island and China says is an atoll, drawing protest from the Abe administration. The legal question is whether or not Okinotori can be used by Japan to draw its exclusive economic zone.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reaffirms that he wants to reach a peace agreement with Russia, saying that he doesn’t want this issue “to drag out into another generation.”

—Conservative local leaders in Miyakojima renew their vow not to cooperate in holding the Okinawa-wide referendum on Henoko base construction. They are being encouraged by the Abe regime to disrupt to poll so that Okinawa’s public opinion cannot be clearly documented.

—Brian May of Queen has just thrown his support behind the campaign to stop the construction of the new US Marine airbase at Henoko and the destruction of Oura Bay. Coincidentally, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe just watched “Bohemian Rhapsody.” May’s support for the popular movement to stop the construction of the US Marine airbase at Henoko is garnering national attention, with opposition politicians and mainstream Japanese media taking note.

—Abe government aiming to add cybersecurity to the mutual cooperation mandate of the US-Japan Security Treaty. By most accounts, Japan is far behind most other advanced nations on cybersecurity, and Abe has appointed a computer-illiterate dinosaur to address the deficit.

—Sao Paulo Shimbun, the Japanese-language newspaper of Brazil, has ended publication after more than seventy years. Its collapse due to fewer Japanese immigrants able to read Japanese and the global bane of the newspaper industry, digitization.

Economy

—The copyright protection period in Japan has been extended from 50 years to 70 years after the author’s death. This is a US government-pushed idea that basically just gives unearned financial benefits to the corporations that hold most of the copyrights.

—Keidanren Chairman Hiroaki Nakanishi calls for “encouraging structural reforms, including making the social security system sustainable.” He’s sounding just like a trickle-down advocate in the United States. We presume it means he wants to cut benefits for ordinary citizens.

—The value of Yen surged massively against the US Dollar. It rose as high as 104.96 at one point, but is now at 107.4 Yen per Dollar. Markets have been very erratic for several weeks now with steep falls and rises.

—The Nikkei Stock Index begins the year by dropping more than 2.2% to 19,562 points, back below the 20,000 level. Many economists are giving pessimistic predictions for the direction of the global economy this year.

—Carlos Ghosn files request to appear in court to formally hear the charges against him.

—Seven-Eleven Japan apparently planning to create its own centralized database on all foreigners working at all franchise outlets as a measure to ensure that no “illegal” foreigners can get a convenience store job at their company.

—Even business leaders like Keidanren Chairman Hiroaki Nakanishi beginning to argue publicly that the Abe government’s ideological commitment to nuclear power is bereft of political & economic rationality: “We can’t build things that the people oppose.”

—Anyone leaving Japan from today will now be charged a new 1,000 yen departure tax.

—The Apple Store in Sendai, Miyagi, is closing after more than thirteen years in business, including through the tsunami era. The company has decided not to reinvest in its Tohoku location. With this closure, there will now be eight Apple Stores in Japan.

Technology

—Zozotown billionaire Yusaku Maezawa takes the global record for the most retweeted tweet. He does it by offering a total of US$1 million to 100 random retweeters.

Society

—The Abe government has settled on April 1 as the day that they will announce the new Imperial Era name. That will give the nation one month to prepare the calendars, computer programs, etc., that still use that dating system.

—Japan begins 2019 with a significant act of terrorism. Kazuhiro Kusakabe, 21, drives onto Harajuku’s Takeshita Street and rams into pedestrians, injuring nine. He said it was in retaliation for the execution” of the Aum Shinrikyo leaders. There has, of course, been a long history of terrorism in modern Japan, in spite of its ordinarily peaceful condition. Almost all the terrorists have been Japanese, and far more of them have been rightwing terrorists than leftwing or anti-establishment.

—Harajuku Terrorism: Reports say that five of the nine injured people have serious injuries such as broken bones. One 19-year-old student is in very critical condition, having suffered a terrible head wound rendering him unconscious with a subdural hematoma.

—Harajuku Terrorism: Kazuhiro Kusakabe explains that his original plan wasn’t to use the car to run people down. “I was going to use the sprayer and kerosene to set fire to crowds at Meiji Shrine,” he stated.

—Harajuku Terrorism: We are not quite sure why some media seems to feel that if Kazuhiro Kusakabe made his attack in retaliation for the execution of the Aum leaders that this is somehow something different from “terrorism.” Kusakabe himself said he had committed terrorism.

—Abe government floats plan to start luggage and handbag inspections at Kasumigaseki Station as a supposed “anti-terrorism” measure ahead of the Olympics. This comes days after a terrorist incident in Harajuku using an ordinary automobile. Intrusive, ineffective nonsense.

—National Police Agency reveals that a total of 3,532 people died in traffic accidents throughout Japan over the course of 2018. This is the lowest figure since records started to be kept in 1948.

—Today is the precise thirty year anniversary of the day that Akihito became Emperor of Japan. He is now less than four months away from the first imperial abdication in modern times.

Note: There were no separate “Today in Japan” reports issued between January 1 and January 6.

Get the feeling that your news services aren’t telling you the whole truth? That’s what happens when they get their operating money from governments and business corporations. SNA relies exclusively upon its subscribers in order to remain fully independent. Please support fearless and progressive media in Japan through Patreon.

Become a Patron!
For breaking news, follow on Twitter @ShingetsuNews

Leave a Reply