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Abe Demands Local Government Support for Military Recruitment

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

Top Headline

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya demanding that all local governments “cooperate” and hand over data about all local residents aged 18 or 22, so that they can be targeted for recruitment to the Self-Defense Forces. Liberal Democratic Party executives have also asked their local lawmakers to check in with local governments across the nation and pressure them to obey Abe government demands to hand over residents’ data to the Defense Ministry.

Politics

—Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga stated in Diet debate that the Abe government has protested to the Tokyo Shinbun over Isoko Mochizuki’s questions at his press conferences “about nine times.” He also insists there is no attempt to pressure the media.

—Hapless, unqualified Olympics Minister Yoshitaka Sakurada under fire again, this time for reacting to swimmer Rikako Ikee’s diagnosis of leukemia, which has shocked the nation, not with concern for her health, but with worry it could reduce Japan’s medal take in 2020.

—Abe Cabinet approves bill that would prevent people living overseas from using the Japanese national insurance system, with some exceptions allowed.

—House of Representatives lawmaker Tsuyoshi Tabata to resign his membership in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party over a “woman problem” that the mainstream Japanese media helpfully refuses to explain. There are calls for him to resign as a lawmaker altogether.

—Recognizing their utility as a tourism promotion device, the Abe government beginning to reverse centuries of Japanese policy of ignoring and marginalizing Ainu culture. New legislation will soon formally recognize Ainu as “indigenous people” for the first time.

—Abe government planning renewed push to get the reluctant Japanese public to accept MyNumber cards. So far, only about 12% of the public has obtained MyNumber cards, and passive resistance has characterized the public response all along.

—Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan leader Yukio Edano: “The state of Diet debate really makes one hang one’s head in shame: Official documents being forged; data being manipulated; a litany of government lies and deception. This is like a regime run by irresponsible children.”

—Miki Watanabe will not run for second term as LDP House of Councillors lawmaker. He says that he has achieved precisely nothing in six years in office. His plans for zero nuclear policy and financial reconstruction have been blocked at every turn by the Abe government.

International

—Shinzo Abe: “Bilateral ties cannot continue if a promise between countries was overturned by a change of government.” (A principle applicable only to the despised South Koreans, not to the American masters, of course).

—South Korea appears close to seizing some assets of Nippon Steel as compensation for the company’s use of forced labor during the Pacific War. Nippon Steel has refused to talk or compromise, being pushed to take that stance by the Abe government.

—US President Donald Trump says that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has showed him a letter in which Abe nominated Trump for a Nobel Peace Prize, apparently in connection with North Korea negotiations.

—North Korea has reconfirmed that two Japanese men it had abducted decades ago are living inside the country. Pyongyang says they both have children now and don’t want to return to Japan. This isn’t really new information, but repeating what has been said for years.

—Early voting in the Okinawa referendum on Henoko base construction is underway. The Abe government continues to vow to dismiss any and all local democratic effort to change its policy of destroying the Henoko coastline and allowing US Marines decades more of Okinawa basing.

—Tsunekazu Takeda may be forced to step down as chairman of the Japanese Olympic Committee. Government concerns are growing that his presence in the midst of the French investigation of his possible involvement in corruption is hurting the image of the 2020 Olympics.

Economy

—Kyushu Electric announces that it has given up plans to restart the Genkai No. 2 nuclear reactor, which originally began operations in March 1981 and has been plagued with problems in recent years.

—Carlos Ghosn’s lead lawyer, Motonari Otsuru, unexpectedly resigns, without warning or public explanation. Otsuru is a former elite prosecutor who in the Ghosn case was working against his former colleagues.

—Renault withdraws about US$30 million in planned severance and other payments to Carlos Ghosn because he is “not fulfilling” his commitment to be present at the company. Hostage justice continues to take its toll, though it is not clear that Ghosn is guilty of lawbreaking.

—JR East planning to directly connect Haneda Airport with direct train services to Tokyo Station, Shinjuku Station and Shin-Kiba Station. Don’t start waiting on the platforms now, however, because they are eyeing a 2029 start date for these services.

Technology

—Government moving toward stronger legislation against downloading without permission copyrighted materials. One sticking point is the question of who should actually be punished for illegal downloads and how severe those punishments should be.

Society

—Tokyo Metropolitan Government planning to pass ordinance that will “ban” parents from physically punishing and mentally abusing their children. There will, however, be no specified punishments for violating the ban, so the main point is to encourage social change.

—Sapporo Snow Festival attracted record 2.74 million visitors this year, with increases in Chinese visitors being particularly noticeable.

—Lawsuit filed on Valentine’s Day against the Japanese government for denial of marriage rights for same-sex couples. Lawyers pointing out that the Constitution requires consent from “both parties” in marriage, and notion same-sex marriage illegal is simply an interpretation.

—Shortly after the discovery of the remains of the battleship Hiei comes word that the remains of the USS Hornet, an aircraft carrier which played a key role in the June 1942 Battle of Midway, which turned the tide of the Pacific War against Japan, has been found.

Note: There were no separate “Today in Japan” reports issued between February 13 and February 15.

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