Another Okinawan Woman Murdered by US Soldier
SNA (Tokyo) — The following stories were reported recently by the Shingetsu News Agency.
Rolling Coverage: Okinawa Murder
—Another Okinawan woman has been murdered by a US military man. The facts are still coming out, but a sailor assigned to a Marine unit apparently killed the woman in Chatan town and then killed himself.
—US military police and Okinawa police were aware for several months that there was trouble (presumably instances of violence) between the US serviceman and his Okinawan girlfriend. This past weekend he apparently murdered her and then killed himself.
—US Marine commanders in Okinawa ask their troops and base workers to keep a low profile and be very respectful since Okinawans are particularly upset right now about the murder of another of their women by a US serviceman.
—Kyodo News poll finds that All-Okinawa candidate Tomohiro Yara has a solid lead over pro-Henoko base construction Abe government candidate Aiko Shimajiri in the House of Representatives Okinawa No. 3 District by-election race.
—Former Prime Minister Naoto Kan is given a verbal warning by Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan leader Yukio Edano after Kan states publicly that the Democratic Party For the People had better just disband because its policies are unclear. Edano apologizes, saying Kan was rude to speak of another party.
—Freelance journalist Takashi Uesugi is running for political office again, this time as a candidate for mayor of Chuo Ward, Tokyo.
—Japan’s Dying Democracy: On April 21 there will be 86 mayoral elections around the nation. Almost 1/3 of them will be decided without a vote because no one is running against the incumbents.
—Abe government’s secrecy measures ensure that no accurate political history of this era will ever be written. Note-taking is not allowed at meetings in the prime minister’s office and briefing documents are quickly destroyed. The archival paper trail simply won’t exist.
—Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya says that the crash of one of the first thirteen F-35A stealth fighters will not disrupt Japan’s plan to ultimately purchase 105 of the jets from the United States. He is fretting about China or Russia trying to find the underwater crash site.
—Local authorities in Busan have removed the forced laborer memorial statue that a private group has been trying to erect in front of the Japanese consulate in the city.
—Officials are mulling plan to cancel any bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-In during the June G20 Summit in Osaka because the relationship is so poor that neither wants to talk with the other.
—Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Maria Zakharova caustically rejects Japan’s protest over Russia’s deployment of Orlan-10 drones on the Southern Kurils: “Such an attitude, which verges on revanchism, is far from the vector of trust set by the leaders of Russia and Japan to create a positive atmosphere in bilateral dialogue. We have repeatedly noted and indicated to Tokyo the unacceptability of such démarches, which, in fact, are interference in our domestic affairs. The path of démarches and protests on such questions of which I have spoken is a path to nowhere.”
—Former Diet member Muneo Suzuki, who is visiting Moscow, reveals that Russia has proposed to Japan that the 2+2 meeting (Foreign and Defense Ministers) take place before end of May. The 2+2 is expected to be combined with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s anticipated visit to Tokyo. This will be frustrating for Tokyo. The Japanese government wanted Lavrov to visit in March to leave as much time as possible to make progress on the peace treaty issue before President Vladimir Putin visits in June. The Russian side seem to be dragging their feet.
—A Japanese delegation will be welcomed to a sample tour on the Trans-Siberian Railway. The group, including tour operators and journalists, will leave Vladivostok on April 13 and arrive in Moscow on April 26. The aim is to encourage more Japanese to use the Trans-Siberian.
—Plans for Tokyo talks during Putin’s visit for Osaka G20 in June have been suspended. Japan had hoped this would be the moment to announce framework agreement on signing peace treaty. However, it increasingly seems there will be no breakthrough to announce. The Russian side’s preference for President Vladimir Putin to remain in Osaka creates a problem for the closing ceremony of the Year of Japan-Russia. This was expected to be held in Tokyo during Putin’s visit. The ceremony may now be moved to the Osaka area.
—Muneo Suzuki met Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Kantei on April 15. Suzuki had visited Russia, where he met the deputy foreign minister and others. Suzuki told reporters that Russia proposes additional diplomatic talks be held in April and May. It is remarkable that Suzuki, who is a former Diet member with no official position, should be essentially announcing the dates of these high-level meetings. Despite having been sent to prison, Suzuki has somehow rebuilt his standing as a key man in Japan’s Russia policy. Suzuki says Abe told him that “we should not have a sense of stagnation” regarding Japan-Russia peace treaty talks. Abe also said that he must move firmly to fulfill the promise made with Vladimir Putin about joint economic projects on the Northern Territories.
—On April 15, Japan and Russia held working group talks on joint economic projects on the Southern Kurils, focusing on establishing a framework for free movement of Japanese citizens to work on the projects. Japan was represented by diplomat Hideki Uyama. These working group talks specifically discussed Russia’s proposal to eliminate short-term visas for travel between Hokkaido and Sakhalin, including the disputed islands.
—Abe government mulls letting US President Donald Trump present the trophy to the winner of the summer grand sumo tournament in Tokyo. However, the main roadblock may be security as the open layout of the venue will make it hard to guard Trump from flying cushions, etc.
—Rodong Sinmun ran an opinion piece chastising Japan as a “thick-skinned country… that denies admitting its hideous crimes against humanity,” and stating that an “apology and reparation for past crimes is an unavoidable state responsibility” morally and legally.
—Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga says that Japan stands ready to help rebuild the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris should it receive a request from the French government.
—China State Councillor Wang Yi: “The Japanese side has said many times that China and Japan should turn competition into coordination, and we hope that Japan can take even more actual steps in this regard.”
—Tokyo District Court grants prosecutors yet more time to break Carlos Ghosn with their hostage justice. He will be detained now until at least April 22.
—Carlos Ghosn’s lawyers say that, on their advice, he is now refusing to answer prosecutors’ questions and remaining silent. Nevertheless, they are putting under daily questioning of five hours a day to try to break him down. His lawyers say it amounts to torture.
—Emails leaked to the French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche reveal direct Abe government involvement in the effort to prevent a Nissan-Renault merger. These emails from a year ago appear to be part of the prelude to the coup against Carlos Ghosn.
—World Trade Organization upholds South Korea’s ban on some seafood caught in the oceans near Fukushima Prefecture. The Japanese government is outraged, still insisting that the Fukushima food bans are “unscientific.”
—The World Trade Organization ruling in South Korea’s favor over its ban on the import of Japanese seafood near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has apparently stunned the Abe government, which was fully expecting to win the case. It’s disrupting their trade plans in Asia.
—Japan Atomic Industrial Forum’s attempt to rebrand the “nuclear village” term (suggesting collusive political and economic power) as a happy and positive term meets a hail of criticism, and the associated new website taken down less than a week after its appearance.
—Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reports that not only should Japan’s consumption tax be raised from 8% to 10% in October as planned, but that if public debt is really to be addressed, it should be raised to the 20%-26% range.
—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe tells visiting UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, “It’s our hope that the negative impact of Britain’s exit on Japanese companies and the world economy will be minimal.”
—Ministry of the Environment reports that Japan’s greenhouse gas emissions in FY2017 fell 1.2% from the previous year to 1,292 million tons. This was the fourth consecutive year of progress, but household sector emissions actually grew slightly.
—In Washington DC the first round of US-Japan bilateral trade talks begin. The Japanese side doesn’t want these talks at all, so its mainly a matter of how many concessions the Trump administration can extort from the Abe government.
—Ichikawa city, Chiba Prefecture, planning to launch a new initiative this summer whereby local residents can submit some documents to the municipal government using the messaging app LINE.
—Tokyo Gas has entered into a 50-50 partnership with the French firm Engie to enter the renewable energy market in Mexico. The joint company, Heolios EnTG, will be involved in both solar and wind energy projects.
—Toyota Motor planning to sell electric vehicle technology to Chinese electric vehicle startup Singulato Motors, part of its initiative to allow royalty-free access to nearly 24,000 patents related to hybrid vehicle technology in order to expand the market.
—Memorial services held on the third anniversary of the Kumamoto Earthquakes, which killed 273 people across three prefectures.
Note: There were no separate “Today in Japan” reports issued between April 13 and April 15.
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