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Female Interns Threatened over Pregnancies

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

Top Headline

—Justice and labor ministries admit that some Japanese companies making use of the Technical Intern Training Program have been threatening female interns with being sent home or else pressuring them into abortions if they get pregnant while working in Japan.

Politics

—Cool Japan? “You don’t describe yourself as cool,” dryly remarks Minister of State for Cool Japan Strategy Takuya Hirai, trying to talk himself out of a ministerial portfolio.

—Prime Minister for Life: Liberal Democratic Party Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai declares it “sufficiently possible” that party rules could be rewritten once more to allow Shinzo Abe to run for a 4th term as party leader, which could see him as prime minister until September 2024.

—Shinzo Abe says he is “in my last term of office” as Liberal Democratic Party president, ostensibly dismissing Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai’s rather loud campaign to rewrite party rules to let Abe stay on for a 4th term.

—The Osaka Cross Elections will once again feature the odd sight of having the Liberal Democratic Party and the Japan Communist Party campaigning for the same gubernatorial and mayoral candidates. Defeating the Osaka Restoration Association is their mutual top priority.

—Komeito’s betrayal of the Osaka Restoration Association now complete. They are switching sides to support the Osaka chapter of the Liberal Democratic Party and its candidates. They also vote to insult Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura by not “accepting” his early resignation.

—Inter-Parliamentary Union and UN Women reports Japan ranking 171st out of 188 nations for the number of women holding ministerial positions. With only one corrupt female minister in the Cabinet, the notion that Shinzo Abe is committed to “womenomics” etc. is a global joke.

International

—Komeito project team meets Foreign Minister Taro Kono and asks the government to take serious action to address the global threat of lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS) through international agreements.

—Finance Minister Taro Aso threatens punitive tariffs against South Korea if it moves forward with seizing assets of some Japanese companies as compensation for forced labor during the wartime era.

—In part because of the unexpectedly soft seafloor at Henoko, the landfill process alone may take about five years to complete.

—Abe government still debating whether or not they will allow athletes from North Korea to enter the country for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. One would think that permitting visits from the athletes of all nations would be a requirement for hosting the Olympics, but seems not.

—Tsunekazu Takeda expected to resign soon as chairman of the Japanese Olympic Committee. The allegations of bribery for Tokyo to win its 2020 bid and the French investigation are judged to be weighing too heavily on his reputation for him to continue in the post.

Economy

—Japan Center for Economic Research estimates that the total cost of decommissioning the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power plant and addressing other aspects of the disaster will be between US$315 billion and US$728 billion.

—Nissan, Renault, and Mitsubishi Motors form a joint four-person board of directors to help steer the alliance in the post-Ghosn era. It remains unclear if this measure will truly heal the wounds of the Nissan coup against Ghosn, or if it just papers things over for a while.

—Coup leader and Nissan President Hiroto Saikawa sends letter to all Nissan shareholders asking them to vote to remove Carlos Ghosn from the Nissan board. This comes after Ghosn applied to attend a board meeting but was refused by the Tokyo court.

—Tachikawa Summary Court in Tokyo rules that Kobe Steel must pay a 100 million yen (about US$900,000) fine for fabricating product quality data. Unlike the Carlos Ghosn (foreigner) case, no one is going to prison or being prosecuted, despite lives put at risk by the fraud.

—Even though they are sitting on piles of saved cash, major Japanese firms are taking a hard line on pay increases, citing “uncertainty.” Of course, this kind of behavior only makes a recession more likely, or deeper, since it hits domestic spending and consumption of goods.

—Under heavy media scrutiny, Seven Eleven Japan reverses decision to expel Osaka franchisee who wasn’t able to keep his store open 24 hours a day due to a labor shortage. They seem to be doing a rethink, acknowledging the suffering of some of their franchisees.

Technology

—Toyota Motor and JAXA unveil initiative to send a space rover to the Moon in 2029. According to the design, the astronauts will be able to ride in the space rover without wearing their space suits.

—Government lapdog Supreme Court backs NHK again and rules that anyone who owns a mobile phone that has a television function must pay NHK subscriber fees, whether or not they ever watch NHK. The original lower court ruling was that people weren’t obligated to pay NHK.

—Abe government backs away from its proposed legislation that would have made it illegal to download copyrighted material of any kind. The government was warned off by experts and others who told them the law was too sweeping and could damage legitimate online activities.

—Liberal Democratic Party policy chief Fumio Kishida announces that he will soon begin hearings on the GAFA (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple) global technology giants in preparation for possible anti-monopoly legislation.

Society

—Mehmet Colak, a Kurdish man detained by the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau, is reportedly very ill, but according to his family, is not being provided proper medical care. Supporters have been keeping a vigil outside the facility demanding action to help him.

—Survey by the NPO ReBit finds that 87.4% of transgender job applicants report “uncomfortable experiences” during job interviews. The figure for gay and lesbian applicants is 42.5%. Many Japanese companies conduct interviews on assumption sexual minorities do not exist.

Note: There were no separate “Today in Japan” reports issued between March 12 and March 14.

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