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Japan Times Hit by Bombshell Reuters Report

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

Rolling Coverage: Japan Times

—Bombshell report from Reuters! Japan Times chief editor said changes made to stop perception of being “anti-Japanese”; linked dropping Jeff Kingston as columnist to increase government ad revenues and getting exclusive interview with Shinzo Abe. Wow!

—Kudos to Reuters. They have also put out their Japan Times report in Japanese language too, and it is trending on Twitter. Reuters is putting its finger on the right side of the scale. Respect. Must say, however, that the content of the Japanese version of the Reuters article is quite different from the English version. In the Japanese version, they mention Globis and Yoshito Hori.

—Yoshito Hori of Globis, whose former PR henchman Hiroyasu Mizuno is now the top editor of Japan Times, is really, really proud of being able to network with famous people at Davos. His Twitter feed filled with kiss-up-to-the-elite sentiment. Not surprisingly, he was also one of the people who attacked the model Rola last month for her support of the Okinawan people. This is the kind of spirit behind the new owners and chief editor of the Japan Times.

—Have to chuckle to see Japan Today has run the Reuters article about rival Japan Times on their webpage.

—Allow us to note that the only way that the Japan Times can recover its reputation at this point is to dismiss Executive Editor Hiroyasu Mizuno and replace him with someone with unquestioned journalistic credibility. Everything short of that is window dressing.

—Journalists among themselves sometimes refer to PR as “the dark side.” The skill set is similar and the pay much, much better. But the fundamental attitude towards power is the exact opposite. Many journalists groaned when they heard a PR firm had bought the Japan Times.

—Cheering for the new Japan Times editors coming loudest from conservatives and the rightwing. Make no mistake: Whatever they pretend, its not about debate for them, but rather silencing the heterodox and progressive voices that annoy them.

Politics

—The official English name of Yoshihiko Noda’s new seven-member House of Representatives caucus is “The Reviewing Group on Social Security Policy.” Noda paid introductory visits to the heads of other political parties.

—Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan leader Yukio Edano has caught the flu and may spend a few days at home recovering.

—Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and Social Democratic Party have reached a basic agreement to merge their House of Councillors caucuses. This is probably to preserve the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan’s leadership in the chamber after the Democratic Party For the People-Liberal Party merger.

—It would seem to be the season for mergers. The two rightwing opposition parties, the Osaka-based Japan Innovation Party and the Party of Hope, will also merge their House of Councillors parliamentary caucuses.

—Komeito lawmaker Keigo Masuya joins opposition lawmakers in criticizing the Labor Ministry wage data scandal, calling it “a systematic involvement and a systematic coverup” by the ministry. Others point out that the false data made Abenomics seem more successful than it was.

—Labor Minister Takumi Nemoto forced to apologize after it is revealed that the “independent third-party” investigation of the wages data scandal had been compiled by the ministry’s own bureaucrats largely based on their own in-house questioning of officials.

—Osaka Governor Ichiro Matsui knocks down suggestions that there should be a cabinet minister in charge of preparations for the 2025 World Expo. Matsui says its better if it is just coordinated through the METI Minister.

—Yasunori Kagoike’s trial set to begin on March 6. Kagoike may very well be guilty of fraud, but the Ministry of Finance bureaucrats who helped orchestrate the fraud remain miraculously un-indicted despite their misdeeds being revealed. Once again, the Moritomo Gakuen scandal demonstrates that crimes committed on behalf of established power will either go entirely unpunished or lightly dealt with, while crimes involving criticism of the powerful will be mercilessly prosecuted by the “justice system.”

—Bold move: Opposition considering fielding Tomohiro Ishikawa as their Hokkaido gubernatorial candidate. He was sentenced to several years in prison over a corruption scandal as part of the attacks on Ichiro Ozawa, but the whole thing was likely just prosecutorial overreach. Nice old school revenge subplot too: Ishikawa defeated Liberal Democratic Party heavyweight Shoichi Nakagawa in 2009, then was defeated by Nakagawa’s wife Yuko in 2012. Outgoing Hokkaido Governor Harumi Takahashi is a Nakagawa protege. Hokkaido politics is like the Game of Thrones.

—Ayaka Shiomura, a candidate scheduled to run for a House of Councillors seat in Hiroshima, ditches her membership in the hopeless Democratic Party For the People to run as a Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan candidate instead.

International

—Opposition party executives mock Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for coming up empty once again from his latest meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

—South Korea accuses a Japanese military plane of buzzing a warship: “Today’s low-altitude flight was a clear provocation against a ship of a friendly country, and we cannot help but doubt Japan’s intentions and strongly condemn it.” Tensions spiral again.

—South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-Wha says in Davos that her government to host international conference on Comfort Women in the coming months. “There is a fundamental sense of lack of justice on the part of the victims,” she states. If it wasn’t clear before, certainly the hosting of such an international conference would signal that the December 2015 Japan-South Korea accord on Comfort Women is at this point a dead letter.

—Pope Francis planning to visit Japan in November. The most recent papal visit to Japan was John Paul II in 1981.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe making a push for “worldwide data governance” and says that the upcoming G20 summit in Osaka in June should become the launchpad for such a global movement.

—Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has a brilliant plan to get Okinawa to finally accept Henoko military base construction. He says (for the umpteenth time) that he will “explain it politely.” Well that ought to do it!

—A compromise may have been sown up that will allow the Henoko base construction referendum to be conducted in all parts of the prefecture. The notion is that the conservative saboteurs may participate if a third option of “neutral” is included in the choices. While this compromise might make sense to get out of the confrontation, we can’t help notice that the conservative municipalities seem to suddenly have the taxpayer money that they said wasn’t available now that one of their policy demands was addressed.

—Aiko Shimajiri resigns from her post as a policy aide in the Abe government to prepare her campaign as the conservative candidate for the upcoming House of Representatives Okinawa No. 3 District by-election.

—Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Konosuke Kokuba forced to apologize after his policy secretary, Kei Tanaka, denounces Jinshiro Motoyama as a “terrorist” for engaging in a hunger strike outside the Ginowan city office.

—Local officials in Taiji, Wakayama, indicate that they will begin commercial whaling on July 1. This will be Japan’s first (officially) commercial whaling in over three decades, and is a result of the December withdrawal from the International Whaling Commission.

—German Prime Minister Angela Merkel expected to arrive in Japan on February 4 for a short visit.

Economy

—Japanese government warning major firms to begin preparing for the possibility of a No Deal Brexit. The government will try to offer some support if that scenario comes to fruition.

—Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike has unveiled a Tsukiji development plan which will turn the whole area into a major entertainment zone, which a huge convention center, hotels, restaurants, etc., linked together with the Hamarikyu Gardens. Completion date in the 2040s.

—Sony announces plan to move its European headquarters from London to Amsterdam as a response to Brexit. It would appear that Brexiteers may get their “sovereignty” but lose a lot of international business from those who need access to the European market.

—Carlos Ghosn has resigned as chairman and CEO of Renault.

—Japan Tobacco (JT) is still more than 33% owned by the Ministry of Finance. This has long created a massive conflict of interest whereby the government has been incentivized to protect the domestic tobacco industry and not the health of Japan’s residents.

—Keidanren and Hitachi chief Hiroaki Nakanishi declares that the only way for the Wylfa Newydd Nuclear Power Plant to be saved is for the British government to pour massive taxpayer funds into it: “Nationalization is the only path.”

—Labor Ministry reports that there is a now a record high 1,460,000 foreign laborers in Japan, with the number expected to continue to rise.

—Justice Ministry revokes foreign trainee programs for Mitsubishi Motors and Panasonic, citing violations of the program’s obligations. The heaviest punishment to fall on the workers themselves, many of whom will be forced to leave Japan early. The weakest suffer again.

—There’s still no date for the beginning of the US-Japan bilateral trade talks that Donald Trump demanded and that the Abe government was pressured into accepting. Trump’s “own goal” over the US government shutdown created disruption on Washington’s side.

Technology

—Japan’s labor laws which mandate that company employees must be paid at least once a month in cash or bank transfer likely to be revised soon to allow for various forms of cashless payments. This is part of the ongoing effort to push for a more cashless society.

—Government moving towards making it a crime to download still images of manga from the internet, with a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a 2 million yen (about US$18,350) fine.

—In Davos, Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda highlights risks that rapidly changing financial technology could seriously disrupt or even endanger major banking systems. Vulnerabilities of the technology itself could create a financial crisis.

Society

—Tokyo Medical University now faces serious sanction over its secret policy of discriminating against female applicants and favoritism. Education Ministry to cut off public subsidies to the university for two years. Lesser cuts handed out to other universities.

—Nissin Foods under fire for using an animated version of tennis star Naomi Osaka with skin color that was much lighter than Osaka herself. Nissin is apologizing and admitting that they lacked sensitivity to the issue of whitewashing.

—Graffiti in the style of street artist Banksy has now been discovered on a seawall in Kujukuri town, Chiba Prefecture. Its authenticity is being investigated, but its thought most likely to be an imitation.

—Supreme Court declares it constitutional for government to require transgender people to be sterilized before they can register to be a member of the other sex.

—Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games announces that more than 200,000 people have now applied to the 2020 Olympic volunteer program. About 2/3 are female and about 2/3 are Japanese nationals.

—An influenza outbreak is hitting Japan hard, with more than 2 million confirmed cases. Some schools are suspending classes as a result, and there are reports of some elderly people dying from the illness.

Note: There were no separate “Today in Japan” reports issued between January 24 and January 25.

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