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Abe Era Corruption Darkens Japan’s “Beautiful Harmony”

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

Rolling Coverage: Reiwa and Abe Era Corruption

—”Reiwa” might be translated into English as “Command Peace.” It is a term that derives from the Manyoshu, an 8th century collection of poems. The era name does contain some conservative overtones, but progressives can also “command peace” from the militaristic Abe regime.

—Foreign Ministry says the official English interpretation of Reiwa will be “Beautiful Harmony.” This leaves some kanji scholars scratching their heads as “rei” is not seen as fitting that meaning. It does, however, accord with Abe’s 2006 book “Towards a Beautiful Country.”

—For those confused over the “true” meaning of Reiwa, etc., let’s state one thing clearly: the Abe government has no compunctions about lying to the public. Indeed, lying to the public is pretty much their default mode. What they mean to themselves is not what they broadcast.

—It seems that we should, at least, be thankful that the very worst option for the new Imperial era name wasn’t selected. It has been leaked that Manpo “Great Security” was among the finalists. The rightwing overtones of THAT one couldn’t have been missed.

—Vice-Minister for Land Ichiro Tsukada forced to resign after saying publicly that a road construction project linking Yamaguchi and Fukuoka prefectures was approved in an effort to curry political favor with Shinzo Abe and Taro Aso, whose constituencies are there. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe tried for a couple of days to protect Vice-Minister Tsukada from his gaffe, but eventually agreed that he needed to go because it could effect the upcoming local elections this Sunday. Ichiro Tsukada’s resignation is another reflection of Abe era Japan. Having smashed down the previous (weak) checks-and-balances in the system, Abe and Suga have turned politicians and bureaucrats into their flunkeys, and some of them are stupid enough to brag about that.

—Tokyo prosecutors considering bringing yet another criminal charge against Carlos Ghosn, perhaps in retaliation for Ghosn being released on bail against their demands. This might allow prosecutors to re-arrest and detain Carlos Ghosn once again, stopping his press conference plans for next week.

—Breaking! Prosecutors have busted into Carlos Ghosn’s home in Tokyo, and presumably he is now being re-arrested.

—If the Japanese “justice system” has been setting out on a mission to discredit themselves in the eyes of the developed world, the handling of the Carlos Ghosn case can be considered to be a remarkable success.

—Needless to say, the 4th arrest of Carlos Ghosn relates to a story that was reported months ago. It seems very much that this was used by prosecutors merely as a pretext to put Ghosn behind bars again, where he can’t “tell the truth” at a press conference.

—Carlos Ghosn Statement: “My arrest this morning is outrageous and arbitrary. It is part of another attempt by some individuals at Nissan to silence me by misleading the prosecutors… I will not be broken. I am innocent of the groundless charges and accusations against me.”

—Carlos Ghosn to step down as a board of directors member of Renault effective June 12. Convicted of nothing, Japan’s “hostage justice” system has made it impossible for him to conduct any normal business activities and cost him his jobs and income.

—Carlos Ghosn will remain in detention until at least April 14 after his 4th arrest by prosecutors. Ghosn himself has vowed that he won’t “be broken” and has called on France to intervene on his behalf to rescue him from the legal “trap” the Japanese have put him in.

—French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has already expressed to Foreign Minister Taro Kono his country’s concern over the Carlos Ghosn case, but it is not known what he had to say.

—Now we know what Reiwa REALLY means!


—Of 31.8 billion yen ($286 million) in public subsidies to political parties, 56%, or 17.9 billion yen ($161 million), will go to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. All parties receive subsidies except the Japan Communist Party, which refuses to take the money on principle.

—Who really supports female equality in Japan? 46% of Japan Communist Party candidates for April prefectural assembly elections are female. For the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan the figure is 26%. And for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party? Oh, it is 4%. It’s also worth pointing out that this is yet another example of “Lying Shinzo” at work. He has ostensibly championed “womenomics” and “making women shine” in public, but within the ruling party he has done NOTHING to advance women. 4% women means he hasn’t lifted a finger.

—Ministry of Education to issue new guidelines making explicit that it is inappropriate for university entrance exams to discriminate against female applicants.


—A US Marine Osprey aircraft from Futenma makes an emergency landing at Itami Airport in the Kansai. No one is injured, but the disruption causes flight delays of civilian airliners.

—US Marines publicly argue with University of the Ryukyus Professor Masaaki Gabe over whether or not they really need to be in Okinawa, especially since they aren’t actually there, off on training expeditions, about 1/3 of the time.

—Land Minister Keiichi Ishii overturns decision by the Okinawa Prefectural Government to withdraw permission to build the US Marine airbase. Okinawa continues to be stuck between a hardline national government and a judiciary that is spineless in rejecting government policy.

—Ground Self-Defense Forces to send its two officers to the Sinai Peninsula peacekeeping mission on April 19. Currently, they will be authorized to stay at that post until the end of November.

—Russia has announced that it will hold live-fire military drills off the coast of Kunashir from April 4 to 12. Japan has issued a diplomatic protest. Russia also held drills on Iturup and Kunashir in March, involving approximately five hundred troops as well as tanks.

—Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov describes Japan’s approach to treaty talks as being, “the border will go here and everything else will be fine.” He says Russia and Japan must develop relations in a range of areas and give ties character of a strategic partnership. Taking into account the open anti-Russian policy of the United States and the fact that Japan follows the United States, Lavrov also says that it is “probably premature” to say Russia-Japan relations are ripe for resolving complex problems, including the peace treaty issue.

—Yury Shvytkin, deputy chair of Duma committee on defense, says that Russia’s ongoing military drills on the Southern Kurils pose no threat to Japan and are not part of any aggressive plan. They are instead connected with efforts to strengthen the Russian border.

—In 2016, Japan was Russia’s 7th most important trading partner. By 2018, it was 10th. In 2016, Japanese investment in Russian Far East totaled about 1.3% of what China had invested. Such low levels of trade and investment will not give Japan leverage in territorial talks.

—Russia’s Foreign Ministry says it will no longer accept “telephone protests” from the Japanese Embassy in Moscow. The latest of these was made on April 2 in response to Russian drills on the Kurils. Russia says that such calls are contrary to standard diplomatic practice. Recently Japan has made a habit of issuing protests to Russia through phone calls made by the embassy’s middle-ranking diplomats. This enables Japan to say publicly that it has made a protest while simultaneously keeping the issue low-key and avoiding backlash from Russia.

—Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova criticizes new Japanese school textbooks for describing the Southern Kurils as “inherent” Japanese territory. She describes this as an “absurd formulation” and contrary to the generally accepted results of the Pacific War. Zakharova also states that, instead of Japanese textbooks including misleading information about the Southern Kurils, “it would be better to expand the chapters on Hiroshima and Nagasaki since Japanese children do not know who carried out these bombings.” Russian media sometimes make this incorrect claim that many Japanese do not know who was responsible for Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This is perhaps a reflection of Russian surprise that US-Japan relations can be so good despite America’s use of atomic weapons against Japan.

—Japan and the United Kingdom have delayed their “2+2” foreign and defense minister talks scheduled for next week because the United Kingdom hardly has a functioning government right now amidst the self-inflicted chaos of Brexit.

—Cabinet Secretariat survey finds that 37.5% of respondents identify foreign policy as the area in which Japan is taking the wrong course. This is an increase of 12.6% since last year. The public may be dissatisfied by Japan’s relations with South Korea and Russia. The survey result is interesting given that foreign policy has always been presented as an area of strength for the Abe administration. 37.5% also identified the public finances as an area in which Japan is taking the wrong direction.


—JR Hokkaido ends train service on the Yubari Line after 127 years. A former coal mining town, Yubari city lost more than 90% of the population that it had in 1960, when it was at its peak.

—Seven-Eleven Japan replaces its president over the mishandling of the labor shortage crisis and its demand all franchisees stay open 24 hours even if they can’t find employees. New President Fumihiko Nagamatsu indicates he will be (a little) more flexible on these demands.

—Greg Clark, the United Kingdom’s secretary of state for business, energy, and industrial strategy, and other government officials planning to visit Japan to lobby Honda not to close its automobile plant in Swindon, England.

—Keidanren now pushing for nuclear power plants to remain operational for an indefinite period of time. The previous forty year principle was turned into a sixty year limit for each reactor’s operation. Now Keidanren wants even that limit to be abolished.

—Within a few days the bridge connecting Kansai International Airport with the main island will be fully repaired. It was badly damaged last September when Typhoon No. 21 pushed a tanker ship into a collision with the bridge, cutting off passengers for several days.


—Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, and Kawasaki are reportedly working together to create unified standards for electric motorcycles. These would include common standards for batteries and recharging stations.

—A new 1.5 mw solar power plant has been completed Takamatsu city, Kagawa Prefecture, and began operations on the same day. It is called the “Enepark Takamatsu Power Station,” and covers about 58,000 square meters of land.

—Kyocera Communication Systems partners with Ishikari city, Hokkaido, to build a data center that will be 100% powered by renewable energy, using solar and wind power, and even utilizing the Hokkaido snows. Energy supplies will be regulated using AI technologies.

—Toyota Motor offering to provide royalty-free access to other companies to its roughly 24,000 hybrid-vehicle technology patents through 2030. Toyota cites “a need to popularize hybrid and other electrified vehicle technologies” as a reason for this move.

—Hayabusa-2 spacecraft drops a small explosive onto the surface of the asteroid Ryugu in order to collect rock samples from below the surface. No word about any space worms launching a counterattack, so all is well.

—Ibaraki’s prefectural government and Ibaraki University collaborating to establish the “Ibaraki Prefectural Regional Climate Change Adaptation Center,” which will study and present policy proposals in that region. It will be the first institution of its kind in Japan.


—Iranian nationals may find themselves having more difficulties at the immigration office as the Ministry of Justice is singling them out for closer scrutiny. This apparently relates to the Iranian government not cooperating when Iranians are deported from Japan.

—We’re not sure what’s up with the recent trend of Australians going to other countries to commit crimes, but allegedly an outbreak of graffiti of Tokyo trains, etc., has been conducted by an Australian-led group, The Good Fellas.

—Private survey finds that only about 25% of Japanese universities ban smoking on campus, but most or all of them are likely to go non-smoking this summer in accordance with the revised national law.

Note: There were no separate “Today in Japan” reports issued between April 1 and April 5.

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