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Resignation of Osaka Governor and Mayor

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

Rolling Coverage: Osaka Politics

—”I can’t die and leave things this way​.” Osaka Governor Ichiro Matsui and Osaka Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura have decided to resign. They will announce it in a press conference tomorrow. This will force a double election in Osaka in April.

—Osaka Governor Ichiro Matsui will run as Osaka mayor, and Osaka Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura will run as Osaka governor. This switch is necessary so that they would both gain fresh four-year terms should they be elected.

—Not sure why Osaka Governor Ichiro Matsui and Osaka Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura have chosen a Friday evening to announce their resignations. That is pretty much the deadest period of the week in terms of news viewership. Most people in Japan are otherwise preoccupied.

—To its credit, the Asahi Shinbun has come up with one of those innovative Japanese terms to explain what is about to happen: It is the “Osaka Cross Election.” This refers to the fact that it is expected that Matsui and Yoshimura will switch their positions.

—Are you ready to rumble? Ichiro Matsui and Hirofumi Yoshimura have now officially resigned. On April 7, Yoshimura will attempt to be elected Osaka governor and Matsui will aim to become Osaka mayor. It’s not clear yet if viable candidates will oppose them.

—Osaka area Komeito looking ready to betray the Osaka Restoration Association completely, possibly switching sides to support the opposing parties. April elections may herald a fundamental power shift in the Kansai region.

—Appears likely that there will be no serious progressive candidate in the Osaka gubernatorial and mayoral races in April. The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan is particularly weak in that region.

—Liberal Democratic Party has asked actor Takuro Tatsumi to be its candidate in the Osaka gubernatorial race, running against Hirofumi Yoshimura of the Osaka Restoration Association.

—Actor Takuro Tatsumi has turned down the Liberal Democratic Party’s request to run as its candidate for Osaka governor, citing the suddenness of the offer and the short time to prepare for the campaign.

—Liberal Democratic Party to ask Tadakazu Konishi, a former vice-governor of Ichiro Matsui, to run as its candidate for Osaka governor. They are trying to find a candidate quickly, because for some reason it seems they didn’t prepare for this election.

Politics

—Moritomo Scandal: Yasunori and Junko Kagoike plead innocent over charges of defrauding the government over the construction of the defunct Mizuho no Kuni Elementary School: “I do not accept the politically motivated investigation and politically motivated arrests.”

—Yusuke Yokobatake, a bureaucrat installed by Abe as head of Cabinet Legislation Bureau to destroy effective oversight over the constitutionality of Abe government legislation, facing calls to resign after making comments in the Diet critical of the opposition parties. Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan executive Kiyomi Tsujimoto remarks, “The supposed ‘guardian of the law’ has become merely the door guard for the Abe government.”

—Cabinet Legislation Bureau head Yusuke Yokobatake apologizes for insulting opposition lawmakers in Diet debate. He reprimanded by the committee chair, but declares that he has no intention of resigning. He has played a key role in allowing Abe’s unconstitutional legislation.

—With the defection of Yukihisa Fujita, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan regains its position as the largest opposition party in the House of Councillors, with 28 seats to the Democratic Party For the People’s 27 seats.

—Democratic Party For the People leader Yuichiro Tamaki asks former Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda for a merger of their House of Representatives caucuses. Noda gives no clear answer, but indicates he’s willing to talk about the possibility.

—The merger “within a month” between the Democratic Party For the People and the Liberal Party was now announced forty days ago. The delay is not over policy, which is settled, but because of heavy political blowback over allowing Ichiro Ozawa back into a position of power.

—Liberal Democratic Party getting nervous that news of the economy slipping into recession is coming immediately ahead of April’s Unified Local Elections and July’s House of Councillors election, not to mention the planned October consumption tax hike.

—Japan’s proportion of female lawmakers is 10.2%, putting it among the lowest in the world in 165th place. The number is dragged down by conservative party dominance. Less than 8% of Liberal Democratic Party House of Representatives are female. The progressive parties are about 25% female.

—Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan withdraws its recommendation of the candidacy of Kanagawa Governor Yuji Kuroiwa, mainly because he supports the idea of a casino bid in the prefecture.

International

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe tells the families of people abducted by North Korea in the late 1970s and 1980s: “I have to meet face-to-face with Chairman Kim Jong Un to resolve this issue.”

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe holds a phone call with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. He doesn’t mention the murder of Jamal Khashoggi at all. Why should Abe care about the murder of prominent journalists? Human rights isn’t part of his policy agenda and never was.

—Abe government in quiet dispute with Taiwan over fishing boats working near the Senkaku-Diaoyu islands. Often ignored by the rightwing and the media is that these islands are also claimed by Taiwan, but that doesn’t fit neatly into Sinophobic narratives, so it is downplayed.

—Kyodo News Poll: In a national survey, 68.7% of respondents say that the Abe government should respect the Okinawa referendum that rejected the construction of Henoko base. 19.4% say its okay for the government to dismiss the results of the referendum.

Economy

—The Cabinet Office admits that the Japanese economy may be falling into a recession.

—Carlos Ghosn lawyer Takashi Takano takes responsibility for Ghosn’s disguise upon leaving detention. He apologizes for “damaging” Ghosn’s reputation with the stunt, and appeals to the media to respect Ghosn’s privacy.

—Remember Carlos Ghosn’s lawyer’s appeal to respect his privacy? No such luck. The mainstream media believes journalism means hounding the man wherever he appears.

—Carlos Ghosn, still officially a member of the Nissan board of directors, has asked the court to allow him to attend a board meeting. Ghosn has previously told the media that his arrest was part of a boardroom coup against him.

—Tokyo court rejects Carlos Ghosn’s request to attend Nissan board of directors meeting.

—Of the areas around the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant that were designated as radiation exclusion zones in the wake of the March 2011 disaster, less than a quarter of the people have returned to their homes, eight years later. Futaba and Okuma remain off limits.

—Reconstruction Agency figures say that 15,897 people are officially listed as dead and 2,533 listed as missing (total: 18,430) as a result of the March 11 triple disaster.

—Abe government has decided that its ban on ride-sharing services is counterproductive, and is preparing legislation to conditionally allow the creation of this industry. Taxi drivers somehow to be incorporated. It’s unclear yet if these moves are truly significant.

—Foreign workers who use the Abe government’s new work visa system to be required to submit medical certificates, the first time such a condition has been imposed by the authorities.

Technology

—Drinking and droning doesn’t mix! Cabinet resolution revises the drone law to provide penalties of up to a year in prison or a 300,000 yen (about US$2,700) fine for flying a drone while significantly drunk.

Society

—Kane Tanaka of Fukuoka has been officially confirmed as the oldest person alive at 116 years 66 days old. She was born on January 2, 1903.

—Estimated 87 people injured, some seriously, when the Sado Island ferry collides into something at sea, most likely a whale.

—A hate demo calling for “Koreans to return to the Korean Peninsula!” was held in Kyoto, making the mainstream news. They were confronted by a larger number of anti-fascist counter-demonstrators shouting responses like “It’s YOU people who should get out!”

Note: There were no separate “Today in Japan” reports issued between March 7 and March 10.

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