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Okinawa Referendum Decisive Rejection of Henoko Base Construction

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

Rolling Coverage: Okinawa Referendum

—NHK exit polling predicts that the Okinawa referendum on Henoko base construction will show that nearly 75% of Okinawans oppose the base. If this is borne out, it should (but won’t) silence all the pro-Alliance and rightwing nonsense that the democratic will isn’t clear.

—Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan Statement: “Considering the changes in the security environment and the role of the US Marines, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan calls for the construction of Henoko base to be suspended, and for the government to seek new negotiations with the United States.”

—Let there be no more nonsense from US “alliance managers” and rightwingers that the construction of Henoko base is anything other than profoundly undemocratic. No, there is not a “silent majority” favoring the US Marine presence. The referendum has exposed the lies clearly.

—We’d like to get excited, but if there’s one thing that’s clear about Shinzo Abe, it’s that he doesn’t give a damn about democracy. He believes in an elite that has superior wisdom and foresight to the people. So long as he can get votes to stay in power, he doesn’t care.

—38% vote against Henoko base construction? For the first time in never, Japanese main island news services are including all non-voters in the figures they are reporting. When’s the last time they pointed out that the Abe government is supported by 20% of the public?

—NHK World: “nearly 40 percent of the southwestern prefecture’s eligible voters rejected the ongoing landfill work for the relocation of the US Marine Corps Futenma Air Station.” This is utterly ridiculous and shameful. Since when are non-voters included in these totals?

—Meanwhile, the Yomiuri Shinbun, Japan’s largest circulation newspaper and known to be very close to the government, raises eyebrows by being the only newspaper that didn’t report Okinawa’s referendum as headline news. Utterly shameful.

—Just to highlight the deliberately deceptive manner in which the Okinawa referendum is being reported by some news agencies, calculated the same way, Donald Trump was elected President of the United States in 2016 based on 25.7% support from American eligible voters.

—What about the democratic “52%” for Brexit? The people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union with the support of only 37.4% of eligible voters. It was a referendum, just like in Okinawa. But we don’t talk about the pro-Brexit 37.4%, do we?

—NHK, the public broadcaster, seems to be leading the effort to report deceptively about the results of the Okinawa referendum by taking all eligible voters as the 100% instead of those who actually voted. Honestly, we suspect direct involvement from the Abe government.

—Barring the fall of the Abe government, change in Henoko policy probably must come from the United States first. Americans have a nearly endless capacity for self-deception, but at least most of them THINK they are on the side of democracy. Abe knows he’s not a democrat.

—In the wake of the Okinawa referendum on Henoko in which the Pentagon-Abe policies were decisively rejected in a democratic vote, the Abe government moves not an inch from its usual talking points. Abe says the base will be built without delay.

—Kyodo News quotes a “government source” on the Okinawa referendum as follows: “Although the outcome may stir some sympathies for Okinawa, it will not affect the Cabinet’s approval ratings nationwide.” Tokyo continues to rely on main islanders’ indifference towards Okinawans.

The national ruling parties lost the Okinawa referendum on Henoko construction even among their own local supporters: Okinawa Liberal Democratic Party Voters – 43% Support / 45% Oppose; Okinawa Komeito Voters – 30% Support / 55% Oppose.

Politics

—Emperor Akihito: “As an island country, Japan has enjoyed relative advantage in cultivating its own unique culture, but amid growing moves toward globalization, I think it is being expected to open itself more to the outside.”

—Emperor Emeritus Akihito and Empress Emerita Michiko: Imperial Household Agency settles on these unprecedented, official English-language renderings for the Imperial couple’s titles, once they have retired at the end of April.

—Japan Communist Party leader Kazuo Shii calls for the abolishment of the calendar based on Imperial era names, saying that it is an outdated system that fails to reflect the principles of popular sovereignty.

—Total days serving as Prime Minister of Japan (as of 02.28.19): 2,886 – Taro Katsura; 2,798 – Eisaku Sato; 2,720 – Hirobumi Ito; 2,622 – Shinzo Abe; 2,616 – Shigeru Yoshida.

—Tozen Union, which represents some Japan Times workers, demands that the Japan Times retract its editorial changes on Comfort Women and Forced Laborers, and apologize for their “total disregard” of the paper’s own journalists and their reputations: “Japan Times is now perceived publicly as trying to downplay the suffering of the comfort women and forced laborers; of putting political considerations above fair, balanced and truthful reporting; and of toeing the Japanese government’s line for commercial gain.”

—Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga to Tokyo Shinbun reporter Isoko Mochizuki at official press conference; “I don’t have to answer your questions.” The Abe administration’s contempt for the media showing in public more and more.

—Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga declares, “a press conference is not a place to say one’s opinion.” The Abe government now trying to define what questions reporters can ask them, and how those questions are asked. Bear in mind that all of this comes on top of the Abe government’s undeclared boycott of press conferences with the foreign media, which has been ongoing since 2014. When they do speak to the non-Japanese media, it is always in highly controlled “exclusive” situations.

—Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan executive Kiyomi Tsujimoto: Yoshihide Suga “puts pressure on reporters and gives insincere answers to their questions. He has lost his qualification to serve as Chief Cabinet Secretary.”

—Tsuyoshi Tabata, the politician who recently resigned from the Liberal Democratic Party over rape allegations, has applied to resign from the House of Representatives altogether.

—Special panel investigating the Labor Ministry wage data scandal finds that (you guessed it!) there was no systematic coverup and nobody is to blame. In other words, it reached the very same conclusion as every other government investigation made during the Abe era.

—Liberal Democratic Party expected to downplay Constitution revision and emphasize measures to reduce the economic impact of the planned October consumption tax hike as its political platform for April’s Unified Local Elections.

—Japan Innovation Party Secretary-General Nobuyuki Baba makes very positive comments about the merger between Democratic Party For the People and Liberal Party. He appears to hint that his party too is ready to merge with them.

—Yosota Hanakawa to run for 5th term as Mayor of Kita Ward, Tokyo. By Election Day in April he will be 84 years old, and if re-elected he will become the oldest ward mayor in the nation.

International

—Russia inaugurates high-speed internet services in the disputed Southern Kuriles / Northern Territories, building up the infrastructure of islands that the Japanese government still hopes will be returned.

—Government to make use of the 2015 Abe War Law for the first time, choosing a very modest start. Two GSDF officers will be sent to the Arab-Israeli peacekeeping mission in the Sinai Peninsula, where the risk of mishaps in very small.

—Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un fail to reach an agreement on North Korea’s nuclear weapons in their talks in Vietnam.

Economy

—Finance Ministry reports that beef imports from Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership countries have been soaring since the agreement came into effect at the end of last year.

—United Kingdom Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Greg Clark planning to come to Japan in a few weeks, armed with a package of financial sweeteners, in an attempt to convince Honda to reverse its decision to close the Swindon plant.

—Fair Trade Commission conducting anti-trust investigation against Amazon Japan to determine if its new reward points system unfairly shifts financial burdens to its suppliers.

—US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer indicates that he wants to begin bilateral trade talks with Japan sometime in March.

Society

—Well-known scholar of Japanese literature Donald Keene dies in Tokyo at age 96.

—The #KuToo (Kutsu Too) movement is appearing, in which Japanese women are complaining that they are forced to wear high heels at work, thus causing them pain and health problems.

Note: There were no separate “Today in Japan” reports issued between February 24 and February 27.

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