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Henoko Enemies List Exposed

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

Top Headline

—Henoko Enemies List! Mainichi Shinbun discovers Defense Ministry hired “Risingsun Security Service” of Tokyo to photograph and compile personal information, including family members, of Henoko protestors, who have committed no crime. Mainichi got hold of part of the list. The Abe government was originally accused of compiling such a list in 2016 by an Okinawa newspaper, and officially denied it in testimony to the Diet. The Mainichi’s new evidence appears to prove conclusively that, once again, the Abe government lied to the legislature. Incidentally, Risingsun Security Service is staffed with many former police and Public Security Intelligence Agency officials, some of whom were reportedly connected with surveillance of Japan’s Muslim community and post-2011 anti-nuclear protesters as well.

Politics

—Hiroshi Moriyama, the Liberal Democratic Party Diet affairs chief, publicly dismisses the Labor Ministry wage data scandal as “not such a big deal.” This comment expected to be received coldly by the public and the opposition parties.

—Labor Ministry data scandal spreads further. With increased scrutiny of its statistics by outside agencies, it’s becoming clear that a high proportion of the data it produces is inaccurate. There has been a serious amateur hour going on in this ministry for a long time.

—The normal dance in Diet debate. The opposition calls for a minister to resign (in this case Labor Minister Takumi Nemoto) and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe refuses, saying, as usual, that he wants the minister to work hard to clean up the mess that happened under his watch.

—There is some dissent about the idea of running Tomohiro Ishikawa as the progressive candidate for Hokkaido governor, so it is not yet decided that he will be given the nod. Both the conservative and progressive sides having serious difficulties deciding on their candidates.

—Seiji Osaka becomes the new policy chief for the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan. This is why he passed on the opportunity to run as the opposition candidate for Hokkaido Governor.

—Naomichi Suzuki, the mayor Yubari, has been settled upon as the conservative candidate for Governor of Hokkaido in the upcoming April elections. The opposition side has yet to make a final decision on its candidate.

—Democratic Party For the People and Liberal Party aim to complete their merger “within a month.”

—Takeshi Shina, an Iwate Prefecture enemy of Ichiro Ozawa, loudly trying to prevent his Democratic Party For the People from carrying out merger with Ozawa’s Liberal Party. In 2012, Ozawa had sent an “assassin” candidate against Shina in an unsuccessful attempt at his seat.

—Yuichiro Tamaki and Ichiro Ozawa give a street speech together in Tokyo. This is likely the first joint public event of the soon-to-be-merged Democratic Party For the People and the Liberal Party.

—On Facebook, Michael Yon calls for Japanese rightwingers to attack all media organizations that don’t follow conservative line: “Keep pounding Japan Times and Asahi Shimbun, and their partners in crime CNN and New York Times. Not to mention Reuters with this article.”

—In a tweet, Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan leader Yukio Edano announces that he has now recovered from the influenza which confined him to home for several days.

—Yukio Edano clarifies that the proposal to merge Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan-Social Democratic Party caucuses in the House of Councillors does not automatically apply to the House of Representatives as well. At this juncture a full party merger of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and Social Democratic Party does not seem to be on offer.

—Kenji Kitahashi elected to a fourth term as mayor of Kitakyushu city. Originally, Kitahashi had been an opposition-affiliated candidate, but has increasingly made conservative allies over the years.

—Bad night for the opposition as a ruling party challenger, Kotaro Nagasaki, defeats one-term incumbent Governor of Yamanashi Prefecture Hitoshi Goto, who had been backed by the main opposition parties. The inability of the opposition parties to win this race in which they held the advantage of incumbency is rippling through the political world. It seems to bode ill for the opposition’s chances in the Unified Local Elections in April.

—February issue of the rightwing Sankei magazine “Seiron” carries an article attacking the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan and praising the “heroic decision” of the Japan Times (which “bears an important role to broadcast messages overseas”) to change its Comfort Women and Forced Labor language.

—The 2019 Ordinary Diet Session is now underway, but the clear intention of the Abe government is to avoid contentious issues in the run up to the unified local elections in April, the House of Councillors elections in July, and the consumption tax hike in October.

—Goshi Hosono joins the ruling party’s Nikai Faction, even though he formally remains an independent. He says that he intends to vote with the Liberal Democratic Party most of the time. Hosono has now completely betrayed the opposition.

—Fumio Kishida expresses discontent with the Nikai Faction’s decision to allow Goshi Hosono to become one of their members. In the Shizuoka No. 5 House of Representatives seat, Hosono has been a rival to a Kishida Faction lawmaker, and Nikai didn’t talk to Kishida about it.

—The Liberal Democratic Party’s Aso Faction loses a member who is entering a local mayoral race, meaning that the Takeshita Faction has now pulled equal in strength. Here is the current factional balance of power in the ruling party.

—A major political dispute has broken out within the ruling party in Shimane Prefecture. The top national lawmakers such as Wataru Takeshita and Hiroyuki Hosoda prefer one gubernatorial candidate, while prefectural assemblymen prefer another candidate.

International

—Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya cancels planned visit of Izumo aircraft carrier to South Korea and says all bilateral military exchanges with Japan’s neighbor to be reduced. This is meant to show the Abe government’s displeasure with Seoul.

—South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-Doo denounces the Abe government’s “preposterous words and deeds” and calls for “stern action” against Japan’s low-level military flybys of South Korean warships, which are “a serious provocation.”

—Despite the political tensions at the government level, Seoul reveals that a record number of Japanese visited South Korea in 2018. There were more than 2.9 million Japanese visitors last year, up 28% on the 2017 figure. Perhaps partly due to reduced North Korea fears.

—South Korea’s Defense Ministry retaliates against the Abe government for reducing military exchanges by cancelling their own previous plan to have Rear Admiral Kim Myung-Soo visit Japan next month.

—One of those days the Japanese media is nearly useless. There was an Liberal Democratic Party meeting in which lawmakers reportedly called one after another for tough measures against South Korea, but the press club media won’t report specific statements, playing down the reality.

—Signs of the February 24 referendum on US Marine airbase construction beginning to appear on the streets of Okinawa. The campaign is starting to gather pace.

—The Abe government appears to be speeding up its efforts to dump sand and gravel into Oura Bay as part of the Henoko airbase construction project.

—Osaka District Court dismisses a lawsuit from nineteen former Chinese forced laborers who wanted an apology from the Japanese government and 82.5 million yen (about US$750,000) in total financial compensation.

—US State Department announces that the sale of the two Aegis Ashore missile-defense systems to Japan has been formally approved. The price tag is about US$2.15 billion, which is equivalent to about 4.5% of Japan’s entire annual defense budget.

—Joji Morishita, Japan’s longtime point man on whaling policy, complains to Jiji Press that Western nations are “denying food diversity and forcing their own environmental standards on developing countries and others.”

—Abe government announces that the US government will allow commercial flights from Haneda Airport to use some new routes within the Yokota Rapcon Airspace, which covers most of the Tokyo region. Annual flights expected to expand from about 60,000 to 99,000.

Economy

—French President Emmanuel Macron tells Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that he wants Jean-Dominique Senard, the new chairman of Renault, to become the new chairman of Nissan as well. Macron also “hopes” for Carlos Ghosn to be released from detention soon.

—French President Emmanuel Macron publicly speaks out on behalf of Carlos Ghosn: “I believe that his detention has been very long and the conditions of his detention are harsh. I have said so to Prime Minister Abe on several occasions.”

—French President Emmanuel Macron has openly questioned the “basic decency” of the Japanese legal system’s treatment of Carlos Ghosn, who holds French citizenship. The Abe government is reacting defensively, unwilling to accept any criticism of Japan from abroad.

—French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire calls for Renault to be cautious about its final payout to its former chairman: “No one would understand if the severance pay of Carlos Ghosn were exorbitant.”

—Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga publicly defends the behavior of Japanese prosecutors in the Carlos Ghosn case, calling it “appropriate.” There’s still no public indication that the Abe government understands the damage being done to the nation’s reputation.

—Nihon Keizai Shinbun somehow received an exclusive interview with Carlos Ghosn, who is still in detention and being interrogated by prosecutors. He says what we expected to hear, that his arrest was a plot by Nissan executives to stop the merger with Renault. The most extraordinary thing about this interview is that it happened at all. Has there ever been a case before when a news organization has been allowed to conduct a twenty minute interview with a high-profile suspect in detention in Japan? Perhaps it was the French pressure.

—Online petition launched calling for Carlos Ghosn to be freed: “Carlos Ghosn is not detained by the Japanese Prosecutors rather kidnapped. The false accusations fabricated are to destroy the legacy and the reputation of the savior of Nissan.”

—Restaurant sales in Japan were up 2.3% according to the Japan Food Service Association. Fast food outlets like McDonald’s experienced even stronger sales growth than average.

—Osaka-based bookstore firm Tengyu Sakai Shoten declares bankruptcy, causing its dozen outlets to suddenly close. This book store chain had been known for its innovative strategies, but the digital age pushed it deep into debt.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Finance Minister Taro Aso repeat their resolve to raise the consumption tax from 8% to 10% on October 1. The legal authority to do so has been in place since the Noda administration in 2012, but Abe has repeatedly delayed the tax hike.

—Shinzo Abe government close to declaring that the economy has been its longest period of recovery in the postwar era.

Technology

—National Institute of Infectious Diseases report suggests that influenza viruses keep mutating to keep a step ahead of anti-flu medicines. Drugs that may work now may become progressively less effective against the pesky bugs.

—National Institute of Information and Communications Technology to begin government-authorized hacking Japan residents’ Internet of Things devices as part of a cybersecurity survey. Later, those whose devices are hacked to be alerted about their vulnerability.

—Mainichi: 32 of 47 prefectures have not yet complied with the new legal requirement to establish climate change adaptation centers. Only a handful are up and running. The biggest roadblock appears to be a lack of personnel who are trained to deal with climate change issues.

Society

—Major JR train stations to be equipped with the ability to broadcast information in English, Chinese, and Korean when disasters strike. This is a measure to enhance communication with foreigners in disaster zones, which has been an ongoing challenge.

—Many Japanese celebrate as Naomi Osaka is officially ranked the world’s Number One singles player in women’s tennis. She is the first Japanese to achieve that distinction.

—Naomi Osaka’s celebrity hero status bringing attention to Japan’s nationality laws. She turns 22 in October. Before then she legally must decide her nationality. Japanese may be set to be horrified if their own laws force their new hero Osaka to give up Japanese nationality.

—Chiba City launches its program of official recognition of LGBT partnerships, with a ceremony for four couples.

—Ibaraki may become the first prefectural-level government in Japan to certify LGBT partnerships. A number of city and ward governments have done so in recent years, but no prefectural governments have previously made such a move.

—Police in Kawasaki arrest Yasuhiko Aramaki, a member of the racist Japan First Party, for an assault last August in which he allegedly beat a protester on the street resulting in neck injuries and ten days of recovery. Aramaki contends the man wasn’t really injured.

—Council of Municipalities with Large Migrant Populations calls for the central government to offer more financial support, allowing them to better manage foreign residents at a time when the new legislation is expected to bring many more foreign workers to Japan.

Note: There were no separate “Today in Japan” reports issued between January 27 and January 30.

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