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Carlos Ghosn Trapped in Japan’s Legal Hell

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

Rolling Coverage: Carlos Ghosn

—Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa taking the line that nothing is amiss in the Nissan-Renault alliance and that Carlos Ghosn’s legal troubles have nothing to do with him, just being a matter between Ghosn and the prosecutors.

—Carlos Ghosn’s lawyer Motonari Otsuru, himself a former prosecutor, believes that prosecutors will hold Ghosn hostage for many months, not letting him defend himself in public. It could be six or eight months before he is let out of detention.

—Japanese and foreign media continue to be on two different tracks in reporting the Carlos Ghosn case, with Japanese media reporting additional allegations leaked by the prosecutors and Nissan, and the foreign media picking apart the prosecutors’ case.

—Tokyo District Court rejects Carlos Ghosn’s latest appeal to be released from detention, and there is a growing expectation that prosecutors and the compliant court system will not let him see daylight for many months. Guilty until proven guilty.

—Tokyo prosecutors indicted former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn a third time with additional charges of “aggravated breach of trust” and others related to allegedly underreporting his salary.

—In addition to the third round of indictments for Carlos Ghosn, there is reportedly a second round of indictments for Greg Kelly and Nissan as an organization. The Tokyo prosecutors are tripling down on this case that is deeply embarrassing the Japanese legal system.

—Vindictive Hiroto Saikawa-led Nissan using the opportunity of Carlos Ghosn’s extended detention to have leases cancelled on his Tokyo apartment, ensuring that he has no residence in Japan if he ever gets out of jail.

—The world learning that the Japanese legal system will hold you in detention for months on end, have your life ripped apart, lose your house, apartment, and more, all for having the temerity to declare your innocence in the face of charges by prosecutors.

—Has France just struck back at Japan over Carlos Ghosn? President of the Japanese Olympic Committee Tsunekazu Takeda indicted by French prosecutors on charges of financial corruption. The main implication of the indictment of Japanese Olympic Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda is not about just one individual, but a larger case that Japan may have used illegal bribes of committee members to secure the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Politics

—The new word is that Yoshihiko Noda will NOT be joining the parliamentary caucus of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan. No reason is given for the change, but no doubt the anger of many progressives against Noda was a key factor.

—Osaka Governor Ichiro Matsui and Osaka Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura snub the Komeito New Years party that they routinely attend as local allies. This is to signal strong dissatisfaction with Komeito violating its political agreement on a second Osaka unification referendum.

—Hard right Party of Hope lawmaker Kuniko Koda decides that she will not be running for reelection in the July House of Councillors race.

—Democratic Party For the People to run Nishanta, a Japanese citizen of Sri Lankan heritage as well as a television “talent,” as their Osaka candidate in the July House of Councillors race.

International

—Rob Kajiwara organized the first known demonstration outside the US White House over the forcible construction of the US Marine base at Henoko. About thirty protesters were able to participate.

—Rob Kajiwara’s petition to US President Donald Trump to halt the construction of the US Marine airbase at Henoko has now garnered well over 200,000 signatures in only one month’s time, double the number needed.

—The mayor of Okinawa City announces that his municipality, too, will refuse to participate in the Okinawa-wide referendum on the US Marine airbase construction at Henoko. The Abe government plot to destroy the effort to show public opinion is succeeding to some degree.

—All-Okinawa stalwart Keiko Itokazu, 71, confirms that she will be stepping down in July after her political party, the Okinawa Social Mass Party, selected a new candidate, Tetsumi Takara, to run for her House of Councillors seat.

—Nine lawmakers of the Group of Independents, led by Katsuya Okada, expected to formally join the parliamentary caucus of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan next week. This will bring the caucus strength up to 67 seats.

—Japan and India planning talks on create joint activities related to space exploration and cybersecurity.

—The legal process in South Korea toward seizing assets of Nippon Steel over the company’s use of forced labor during the Pacific War is moving forward, and action appears imminent.

—Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga reveals that the Abe government is seeking to talk with South Korea about its court decision to seize Nippon Steel assets over its history of forced labor.

—Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga says South Korea has not yet responded to the Abe government’s request for talks about the possible seizure of Nippon Steel assets over the Supreme Court’s forced labor ruling.

—South Korea Foreign Ministry indicates that they haven’t decided yet whether or not to enter into direct bilateral talks with the Abe government regarding the Supreme Court’s forced labor ruling against Nippon Steel.

—South Korean President Moon Jae-In urges the Abe government to act with humility when addressing wartime crimes such as forced labor: “I don’t think it’s wise for Japanese politicians and leader to continue to politicize it, making sources of controversy and spreading them.”

—Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga hits back on forced labor issue: “It is extremely regrettable that President Moon tried to shift South Korea’s responsibility to Japan.”

—In a phone call with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau brings up the issue of Japan’s withdrawal from the International Whaling Commission and the importance of protecting whale species.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe travels to the Netherlands and Britain, with discussions about Brexit and its economic impact high on the agenda.

—Abe adviser Katsuyuki Kawai is on a Sinophobic fear-mongering mission to Washington DC: “I would like the United States to understand the importance of concluding a Japan-Russia peace treaty as a means to jointly counter the threat from China.”

—Russia rejects Abe government fear-mongering, declaring that it is “unproductive and unacceptable” to use Japan-Russia peace negotiations to damage Moscow’s relationship with Beijing, which it regards as a friendly nation and a strategic partner.

—Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov summoned Japanese Ambassador Toyohisa Kozuki to protest comments by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which Russia says is misleading and stirring up the public about the content of peace treaty negotiations.

—Russia, South Korea, North Korea, and China: Is there any neighbor of Japan that six years of Shinzo Abe rightwing diplomacy has managed to build good relations with? Funny how those who talk about “national interest” most often tend to damage it the greatest amount.

—Abe government is in final stages of buying the uninhabited Mageshima island in Kagoshima Prefecture for 16 billion yen (about US$146 million). They plan to turn it over for the use of US military aircraft to practice carrier landings. Nearby islanders not pleased.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: “We truly hope that a No Deal Brexit will be avoided and, in fact, that is the wish of the whole world.”

—Shinzo Abe openly backs Theresa May Brexit deal: “Japan is in total support of the draft Withdrawal Agreement worked out between the EU and Prime Minister May which provides for transition to ensure legal stability for businesses that have invested into this country.”

—Pro-Brexit leaders fume at Shinzo Abe’s interference in the heated Brexit debate, with MP Jacob Rees-Mogg telling Britain’s Mail Online: “I think prime ministers are generally well advised to concentrate on running their own countries rather than other people’s.”

Economy

—Keidanren leaders foresee a rough year ahead as the dual idiocies of the US-China trade war and Brexit hit the global economy. Keidanren Chairman Hiroaki Nakanishi declares, “I’m truly feeling some of the impact.”

—Niigata Prefecture to dispose of 60,000 tons of radioactive mud from the 2011 Fukushima disaster. TEPCO had refused to handle the disposal for years. Finally, Niigata decided to do it themselves and then bill TEPCO for about 3 billion yen (about US$28 million).

—The Labor Ministry bungles again, this time releasing monthly data about jobs numbers that they knew was both incomplete and inaccurate. The reason why they didn’t compile the data properly hasn’t yet been revealed.

—The Labor Ministry data scandal is spreading, with it now emerging that they had been compiling incomplete jobs data for years. The government says that it will have to amend the budget as the amount of money paid as employment insurance was seriously miscalculated. The key issue seems to be that government data on average worker wages has been wrong for years, and this is what affected employment insurance payments.

—The World Bank is forecasting 0.9% growth in the Japanese economy over the course of 2019.

—The estimated number of foreign tourists arriving in Japan in 2018 reached a record high 31.2 million, a year-on-year increase of 8.7%. This figure would have been even higher had not the summertime natural disasters put a temporary dent in the number of inbound tourists.

Technology

—The European Union Copernicus Climate Change Service reports that 2018 will rank as the 4th hottest year on record in terms of global temperature. The last four years have seen the highest average temperatures, with 2016 holding the record.

—Mainichi Shinbun points out that Japan, with its food culture so attached to seafood, may be terribly affected by climate change as the seas heat up and catches decline along with the fish and other species.

—Thanks to climate change, warming seas around the Japanese archipelago are causing pufferfish species to interbreed, creating poisonous mutant hybrid fish.

—JR East’s trial run of a fully-automated train on the Yamanote Line was basically a success. The era of trains without human drivers is coming nearer.

—Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) reveals that sometime between February 18 and 24 is the target date for attempting to land its spacecraft Hayabusa-2 on the very rocky asteroid Ryugu.

Society

—Petition started against the magazine Spa! for publishing an article ranking the “best” universities in Japan for getting female students drunk and having sex with them. Hard to believe these editors thought this would be acceptable in 2019.

—Spa! magazine gives a half-hearted apology for their story ranking universities by how easy it is to get female students drunk and have sex with them. They regret publishing “a feature that may have offended readers.”

—Otsuma Women’s University and Ferris University publicly protest against Spa! magazine for damaging the reputation of their universities and their female students by declaring them “easy” to get drunk and have sex with.

—In the mid-1960s almost half of all Japanese adults were smokers (and 83% of all men). The current rate of smokers is below 18% and falling, but smoking-related health issues remain one of the leading causes of death in Japan, much more lethal than terrorism.

—Poetic Justice Files: Wataru Takeshita, who led the ruling party pro-smoking forces last year to drastically weaken the Health Ministry’s anti-smoking bill, to be hospitalized with esophageal cancer. He is also leader of the Liberal Democratic Party Takeshita Faction.

—Japan Private Railway Association reveals the top commuter annoyances. In order: People with luggage, especially backpacks; Noisy people; Manspreading and taking up double seat space; Pushy people; Loud music on headphones; and Use of smartphones and other devices.

Note: There were no separate “Today in Japan” reports issued between January 8 and January 10.

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