“Full-Scale Economic War” Between Japan and South Korea
SNA (Tokyo) — The following stories were reported in the first half of August 2019 by the Shingetsu News Agency.
Rolling Coverage: South Korea Relations
—South Korea Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-Wha hints Seoul will not renew the military information agreement: “Since Japan has cited security reasons for its trade restrictions, we will have no option but to review the various frameworks of security cooperation with Japan.”
—South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-Wha met Foreign Minister Taro Kono in Thailand on the sidelines of an ASEAN meeting. However, there was no progress made on the burgeoning diplomatic and economic dispute between Korea and Japan.
—A second South Korean man sets himself on fire in Seoul to protest against the Abe government. Unlike the first man, who died on the spot, this one is in critical condition. Police found notes the man was carrying demanding an apology from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
—South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-Wha’s icy expression as she shakes hands with Foreign Minister Taro Kono says it all about the current state of Japan-South Korea relations.
—The Abe government carries out its threat of removing South Korea from list of trusted trade partners, again raising the stakes in the confrontation. A different Japanese government, not so ideologically committed to historical revisionism, wouldn’t even be in this position.
—South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-Wha denounces the Abe government’s removal of her country from its list of preferred trading partners, telling ASEAN diplomats, “This was done in a very unilateral, arbitrary manner.”
—South Korea’s ruling party declares, “The White List decision of Japan is a declaration of full-scale economic war against our country… The Democratic Party will react coolly and strategically, together with the people, with resolution to win this Korea-Japan war.”
—Moon Jae-In hits back: “This is a very reckless decision that rebuffs diplomatic efforts to resolve the problem and further exacerbates it… The Korean government will resolutely take corresponding measures in response to Japan’s unjustifiable economic retaliatory measures… These moves by the Japanese government carry a clear intention to attack and hurt our economy by impeding our future economic growth. It is disappointing and regrettable that Japan, which has been regarded as our closest neighbor and friend, has taken such measures.”
—South Korea says it will remove Japan from its own list of trusted trade partners in retaliation for the same move by the Abe administration. It is, as South Korea’s ruling Democratic Party put it, now a “full-scale economic war” between the two nations.
—South Korea is the first country that Japan has ever removed from its preferential trade list, which has more than 25 nations included on it. The trade action taken by Abe government was therefore unprecedented in Japan’s recent history.
—In his press conference this morning, the always honesty-challenged Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga declared that it was no problem to remove South Korea from the preferential trade list and that “it is not a measure that affects Japan-South Korea relations.”
—US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urges Japan and South Korea to deescalate their bilateral tensions. However, Pompeo makes no specific suggestions and there’s still little indication that the Trump administration has any intention of getting seriously involved in mediation.
—Blue House tweets to the world, in English, its resolve that “We will never again lose to Japan.” Needless to say, the bilateral dispute between the Abe government and the Moon government is running hotter than ever before.
—South Koreans represent almost 25% of Japan’s inbound tourists, more than 7.1 million people last year. They are the second-largest national group of tourists following mainland Chinese. At this point, it’s becoming inevitable Japan’s economy will be hit by the dispute.
—South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-Wha denounces the Abe government’s export restrictions against her country at an ASEAN Summit in Bangkok, declaring that they “could become a serious threat to prosperity in the region.”
—South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-Yeon says the Abe government’s decision to drop his country from its list of preferential trade partners “crossed a line it should not have” and could “cause a crack in the three-way security alliance with the United States.”
—Protests in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul said to have gathered about 15,000 people last evening. “No Abe!” was one of their main slogans.
—South Korean boycott already hitting some Japanese companies. Uniqlo has seen a 40% drop in sales in South Korea over the past three weeks and one of its outlets in central Seoul has just announced that it will be closing, though the company is denying a direct link.
—Several hundred people gather in Tokyo to reject the trade war policy and to protest against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in solidarity with the South Koreans.
—South Korea’s military now planning to move forward with military exercises later this month at Dokdo-Takeshima, with the clear objective of annoying the Abe government.
—The Moon Jae-In administration is also warning that it might tighten restrictions on seafood imports from Fukushima, site of the 2011 nuclear disaster, according to a Korea Times exclusive.
—Early figures suggest South Korean boycotts of items like Japanese automobiles and other products, as well as tourism to Japan, is taking something like a 30%-40% toll on sales. There is debate in Korea whether the boycotts make sense, but many want to show their feelings.
—South Korean President Moon Jae-In: “The advantage Japan’s economy has over us is the size of its economy and its domestic market. If the South and North could create a peace economy through economic cooperation, we can catch up with Japan’s superiority in one burst.”
—South Korean Trade Minister Sung Yun-Mo announces that Seoul will spend 7.8 trillion won (about US$6.5 billion) over the next seven years to eliminate dependence on industrial materials from Japan.
—South Korea Foreign Ministry Spokesman Kim In-Chul says Seoul is considering the issuance of a travel advisory for Japan, claiming that South Korean nationals could be physical danger from anti-Korean protests. The ruling party is also citing Fukushima radiation as a threat. This is, of course, total nonsense. Clearly the ruling party in South Korea is looking for ways to impose economic costs on the Abe administration, but they will only damage their own credibility with stunts like these ones.
—Jung District of Seoul, a tourist area, began putting up more than a thousand “No! Boycott Japan” banners around the district, but as soon as they did, the local government was flooded with criticism and ridicule from the local Korean public, so the banners are coming down.
—Some Japanese local governments have been sending officials to South Korea to appeal to budget airlines not to suspend services to their cities, in spite of a fall-off in Korean tourists coming to Japan. Takamatsu city is cited as one specific example.
—In an interesting show of people-to-people solidarity, roughly eighteen South Korean civic groups are planning to join forces with a coalition of Tokyo-based Japanese groups in an anti-Abe protest in Seoul on August 15, which is Korea’s National Liberation Day.
—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: “Considering the current state of Japan-South Korea relations, trust is the biggest issue, the question of whether they keep the promises between nations.”
—A plurality of South Koreans polled by a local organization favor ending the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) with Japan. The poll results were 47.7% in favor of scrapping it and 39.3% in favor of keeping it. President Moon Jae-In’s supporters are strongly in favor of scrapping it at 71%.
—The South Korean government has postponed for the interim its removal of Japan from a white list of countries with preferential trade status, a response to Japan’s identical delisting of Korea. The delay was decided upon to show a willingness to negotiate the matter.
—The environmental NGO Greenpeace Korea is raising the alarm about Japan’s plans to expel contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi power plant into the ocean, which they warn will harm Korea most along with other neighboring countries.
—South Korea’s diplomatic dispute with Japan combined with the US-China trade war is threatening to destroy the cooperatively and painstakingly built value chains across East Asia, according to Troy Stangarone, a senior direct of the Korea Economic Institute.
—Contradicting its request that the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) be maintained, Japan’s Defense Ministry to publicly downgrade in its new White Paper South Korea’s ranking as a security partner below Australia, India, and ASEAN.
—US President Donald Trump demonstrates once again that it is really all about him: “South Korea and Japan are fighting all the time. They’ve got to get along because it puts us in a bad position. They’re supposed to be allies.”
—The next step in the Japan-South Korea trade war may be a decision by the South Korean state-run pension fund to pull all of its investments out of Japan, totaling more than US$1 billion.
—A protest against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was held in Seoul. The protest, which was attended by an estimated 15,000 people, was organized by 700 civic groups, including the large Korean Confederation of Trade Unions and the Korea YMCA.
—After an earlier announcement that it was planning to stay its hand, South Korea has decided to go ahead and remove Japan from its so-called “white list” of preferential trading countries. The Moon government maintains that it is still willing to negotiate.
—A new statue to commemorate wartime Comfort Women will be unveiled this week in South Korea. It is modeled on the one installed in San Francisco, whose unveiling led then-Osaka Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura to break Osaka’s the sister city relationship in protest.
—Abe government issues travel advisory for Japanese tourists in South Korea, alleging without evidence that there are physical dangers for Japanese in the country from protesters… well… It might be true that there would be problems for tourists in Korea named Shinzo Abe.
—DHC Television gains notoriety in South Korea as its incessant flow of outright anti-Korean racism becoming better known. Actress Jung Yoo-Mi has announced her withdrawal as the endorsement model for DHC Korea and petitions are being circulated.
—DHC Korea CEO Kim Moo-Jeon issues public statement asking DHC Television “to stop airing programs contemptuous toward Koreans.” Olive Young, a local beauty store chain in Korea, says it will stop carrying DHC products as revulsion against the company’s hate speech spreads.
—Hyundai Research Institute report predicts that if Japan and South Korea engage in mutual tourism boycotts, economic damage to Japan would be considerably worse than damage to Korea. The fact such a study is published shows how bad things are.
—Abe government sources tell the media that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo backs their view that all compensation claims over wartime forced labor were settled by the 1965 treaty between Japan and South Korea.
—South Korean President Moon Jae-In gives nationally televised speech: “If Japan, better late than never, chooses the path of dialogue and cooperation, then we will gladly join hands with them.”
Rolling Coverage: Aichi Triennale
—Statue symbolizing Comfort Women may be taken from the Aichi Triennale 2019 art exhibition after rightwingers angrily campaign against it. The show’s organizers say that they fear violence and have a responsibility to protect their staff and the public. Rightwing terrorism.
—Aichi Triennale Arts Festival now directly threatened by rightwing Nagoya Mayor Takashi Kawamura, who serves on the festival’s executive committee. Kawamura demands the Comfort Women statue be removed, saying that no public money can be used on it.
—Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga says it should be investigated what public subsidies have been received by the Aichi Triennale Arts Festival, and hints that they should be eliminated if the Comfort Woman statue isn’t removed.
—Tokyo Shinbun journalist Isoko Mochizuki comments on the Aichi Arts Festival: “Even in the midst of concerns about freedom of expression, political leaders openly use public subsidies to heap pressure on an art exhibition. It’s no longer a black joke.”
—The Comfort Women statue exhibition at the Aichi Triennale 2019, whose title is “Lack of Freedom of Expression and Thereafter,” highlighting artwork that has been suppressed in Japan, will be suppressed, and it will be closed to the public at the end of business hours today.
—Japan Constitution: Article 21. Freedom of assembly and association as well as speech, press and all other forms of expression are guaranteed. No censorship shall be maintained, nor shall the secrecy of any means of communication be violated.
—A major factor in the decision to immediately end the Comfort Women statue exhibition at the Aichi Triennale 2019 is that the Nagoya police told the organizers that they “couldn’t guarantee security” for the event. Rightwing terrorism triumphs, backed by the Abe government.
—Daisuke Tsuda, journalist and the Aichi Triennale 2019 artistic director, says that the reaction against the Comfort Women statue exceeded what he had expected, and that this has become “a setback for freedom of expression” in Japan.
—It is reported that one of the threats sent by rightwing terrorists to the Aichi Triennale 2019 was that they would be coming there carrying gasoline cans, an obvious reference to the recent mass murder at Kyoto Animation.
—We are now almost seven years into the Abe administration, and still the mainstream media misses (or pretends to miss) the fact that they communicate by sending signals to the nation in what they say or, more often, what they don’t say. Japanese do pick up on these signals.
—In regard to the Aichi Triennale, note that in the midst of threats of violence against the exhibition, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga raised the issue of using public funds for the event, but offered no caution about the threats, nor any defense of free expression.
—Aichi Governor Hideaki Omura hits out at rival Nagoya Mayor Takashi Kawamura’s demand that the freedom of expression exhibit be shut down: “There’s a very strong suspicion that he violated Article 21 of the Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of expression, isn’t there?”
—In the least shocking news of the day, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has lied to the public again. He declares that his comments demanding an investigation of public funds used for the Aichi Triennale had no influence on the event’s abrupt cancellation.
—Rightwingers now vindictively pursuing Daisuke Tsuda, artistic director of the Aichi Triennale, complaining that he was invited to give a lecture in Kobe. The Kobe city government, jellyfish that they are, quickly cancels the planned symposium to appease the rightwingers.
—Businessman Tatxo Benet buys the Comfort Women statue at the center of the Aichi Triennale controversy. He intends to exhibit it in Barcelona as an example of censored art.
—Rightwing Terrorism: Aichi prefectural officials report that between August 5 and August 9 they received a total of 770 threatening emails demanding closure of the art exhibition featuring a Comfort Women statue. This included threats to shoot officials and to burn schools.
Rolling Coverage: Opposition Parties United Caucus
—Democratic Party For the People again asks to form a joint parliamentary caucus with the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan. This is the continuing Rengo scheme to recreate a policy-muddled new version of the former Democratic Party, and to dilute progressive politics.
—One problem is that the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan’s relatively poor performance in the House of Councillors will tempt them to seriously consider this kind of approach. The CDPJ leaders continue to be afraid of embracing progressive politics entirely.
—The other “threat” is that some of the more conservative members of the Democratic Party For the People are saying that if the CDPJ won’t embrace them, then their centrist party should seek to align itself with either the Osaka Ishin or the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. Of course, it is precisely this lack of principle and deficit of seriousness about ideology and policy that is the best argument why progressives should keep miles away from these opportunists. They will cause more problems if let inside the tent. What the CDPJ needs to do is explore a serious progressive alliance with the Japan Communist Party, Reiwa Shinsengumi, and Social Democratic Party. But this is precisely what Yukio Edano and his team have been afraid to do. They are still hostage to conventional politics.
—In the 21 months since its establishment, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan is yet to demonstrate any ability to close the public support gap with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. Our view is this stems from a too-conventional, overly cautious leadership team.
—Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan Secretary-General Tetsuro Fukuyama has reportedly decided to resign his concurrent post as head of the party’s House of Councillors delegation, taking some responsibility for disappointing results in last month’s elections.
—Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan reverses course, invites the centrist Democratic Party For the People to join unified parliamentary caucus. Turnabout likely stems from the CDPJ’s less-than-dominant electoral performance and need to keep the DPFP out of LDP alliance.
—Yukio Edano indicates that the price for uniting the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and the Democratic Party For the People into a unified parliamentary caucus is that the CDPJ’s policy program must be accepted in full. There will not be policy concessions.
—Yuichiro Tamaki has been put on the hot seat now that the CDPJ invited the Democratic Party For the People to join its parliamentary caucus. The fact is that there is little unity on policy matters within his centrist party and divisions have been aggravated by the proposal.
—Democratic Party For the People leader Yuichiro Tamaki says that if his party agrees to join the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan in a united parliamentary caucus, then the name of the caucus would have to be changed.
—Democratic Party For the People says that if it will join a united parliamentary caucus with the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, then it must be in both houses of the Diet. They also want to have a discussion on policy matters.
—Former Prime Minister Naoto Kan voices his concern, warning that the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan’s “Zero Nuclear” policies must not be compromised by an united parliamentary caucus with the Democratic Party For the People.
Rolling Coverage: Northern Territories
—Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev arrived on Iturup on August 2. Japan has complained about the his visit, while the Russian side has repeated that he has the right to travel to any part of Russian territory.
—Japan issues a diplomatic protest against Russian military exercises near the Southern Kurils. The firing drills will take place near Kunashir August 5 to 10. Yoshihide Suga describes the build up of Russia’s military presence on the Northern Territories as unacceptable.
—Japanese Ambassador Toyohisa Kozuki was summoned to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where he was told that Japan’s protests about Prime Minister Medvedev’s visit to Iturup were unacceptable and bordered on an attempt to interfere in the internal affairs of Russia. In response, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga avoided reacting to Russia’s complaints. Instead, Suga stressed Japan’s desire to continue peace treaty talks in a quiet atmosphere.
—On August 8, Russian Prime Minister Medvedev instructed ministries to develop a plan to encourage business on the Kurils. Medvedev seems to favor tax exemptions on the islands. Japanese media see move as a message that Russia can develop the islands without Tokyo’s help.
—Russia responds to Japan’s inclusion of Southern Kurils on a map of Japan on the Tokyo 2020 website: “No such Japanese actions change reality and place in doubt Russian sovereignty over the Southern Kurils, which legally belong to our country as a result of World War II.”
—Hokkaido Shinbun echoes calls by former Japanese islanders to make grave visits to the Northern Territories by plane a regular annual event. Its editorial also seeks expansion of the flights to include broader visa-free visits that can include more family members.
—Osaka Mayor Ichiro Matsui upset that the severely disabled pair of Reiwa Shinsengumi lawmakers are receiving “preferential treatment” in that public funds are being used to support their Diet activities. He says that the financial burden should be borne privately.
—Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan leader Yukio Edano says that he wants to meet with Taro Yamamoto and discuss cooperation between the two parties. The main stumbling block is expected to be Yamamoto’s call to eliminate or at least reduce the consumption tax.
—Reiwa Shinsengumi’s basic policy on Okinawa is that they would offer financial support to the United States in return for having all US Marines leave Japan for the US mainland or wherever. Futenma base would be closed and construction at Henoko cancelled.
—Lawmaker Goshi Hosono’s efforts to join the Liberal Democratic Party are being blocked by the party’s Shizuoka prefectural chapter, which is strongly against allowing Hosono into the ruling party.
—The Abe administration has now hanged 38 death row inmates since it began in December 2012, now that two more were hanged this morning. The Japan Federation of Bar Associations has called for capital punishment to be abolished, but the usual icy rejection expected from Abe.
—Liberal Democratic Party dominance is based more on the failure of the opposition than the “popularity” of Shinzo Abe. In July’s House of Councillors election, the Liberal Democratic Party won a solid majority based on votes from less than 20% of the electorate. Most people stayed home. One day the wave will come…
—Liberal Democratic Party unsure how to handle next July’s Tokyo gubernatorial race. The party’s Tokyo Chapter is eager to try to avenge the humiliation they suffered at Governor Yuriko Koike’s hands, while Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai thinks the party should back Koike.
—Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui: “I urge Japan’s leaders to manifest the pacifism of the Japanese Constitution by displaying leadership in taking the next step toward a world free from nuclear weapons.”
—During a ceremony to mark the 74th anniversary of the Hiroshima atomic bombings, Hiroshima’s mayor urged that Abe sign the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. As expected, Abe refused, calling it “not based on the real aspects of security.”
—On the 74th anniversary of the atomic bombing of his city, Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue declares that the next use of a nuclear weapon is becoming ever more likely: “The danger of a nuclear calamity is mounting,” he asserted.
—Japan’s most eligible bachelor and likely future prime minister, Shinjiro Koizumi, to marry French-Japanese former newscaster Christel Takigawa. She is already pregnant and is expecting early next year.
—Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga hints that Shinjiro Koizumi will receive his first Cabinet post in the next reshuffle, and that the young Koizumi could even become the next prime minister following directly after Shinzo Abe.
—Campaign period begins for Saitama gubernatorial race. There five candidates, including one, Kenta Aoshima, backed by the ruling coalition and one, Motohiro Ono, backed by most of the opposition parties. Ono is a former commentator on Middle East issues.
—The Kansai branch of the Finance Ministry quietly designated last winter as “work-related” the suicide of one of its officials, who reportedly killed himself over the forced rewriting of official documents to cover up Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Moritomo Gakuen scandal.
—Osaka District Public Prosecutors again announce they will not be indicting Nobuhisa Sagawa or any other government official over the Moritomo Gakuen case. Their reason now is “insufficient evidence,” even though the rewriting of documents has now been acknowledged openly. It also hasn’t escaped our notice that the Osaka prosecutors dropped this news quietly a few weeks after the national elections, and at the beginning of the Obon holiday. Talk about trying to bury a story! This is Abe Era Japan at its most corrupt.
—About 150 people hold protest march in Sapporo about the heavy-handed police action last month. When two people heckled Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during his street speech, they were quickly dragged off by police. The protesters don’t want Japan to be that kind of country.
—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is declaring that now is the time to begin debating the revision of the Peace Constitution, pretending that there is some great public demand for his policy, which there isn’t. The public, as usual, is mostly concerned about the economy.
—Imperial Household Agency reveals that Empress Emerita Michiko has early stage breast cancer and will be undergoing surgery.
—Kyodo News reports that Yasukuni Shrine priests approached the Imperial Household Agency last September, urging then-Emperor Akihito to visit for the shrine’s 150th anniversary. The approach was dismissed. No Emperor has visited since the 1978 enshrinement of war criminals.
—Using rightwing politician Tomomi Inada as his messenger, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sends a ritual offering to Yasukuni Shrine, a religious institution which worships the spirits of Japan’s modern war dead, including, since 1978, Class A War Criminals.
—Protect the Nation from NHK leader Takashi Tachibana has NHK service installed in his lawmaker office, but he vows that he won’t be paying the fees. He dares NHK to sue him as soon as they can.
—The new Protect the Nation from NHK political party becomes even more bizarre as independent journalist Takashi Uesugi joins as its secretary-general. Meanwhile, rightwing “war-with-Russia” Hodaka Maruyama confirmed as the party’s second lawmaker.
—Abe government subservience to the United States extends so far now that Tokyo is toning down criticisms of North Korea for resuming missile tests. With US President Donald Trump saying it is no big deal, the Abe team is left biting their tongues, pretending to agree.
—US President Donald Trump has directly told Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that the US position is that it will tolerate missile tests by North Korea for the time being. We can only imagine what Abe thinks about that, but of course he will remain publicly subservient.
—Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya denounces North Korea weapons tests: “The projectiles, no matter whether they are short or medium range, pose a grave threat to our country. We’ll watch closely and steadily build a comprehensive missile defense system.”
—Japan and Iran celebrate ninety years of diplomatic relations, which were first established in 1929. Individual Japanese travelers visited Persia, as it was then known, from around the turn of the 20th century.
—Under pressure from the Trump administration, the Abe government shifting its position on the proposed anti-Iran naval coalition. They started out with statements they “are not thinking about” participation. The line today is that they “will make a comprehensive judgement.”
—Having been rejected in private approaches, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper now publicly pressuring Japan to send warships to the Persian Gulf as part of an anti-Iran naval coalition.
—The Abe government is characteristically wilting under US political pressure. They are now moving towards some form of participation in the anti-Iran naval coalition in the Persian Gulf. The latest proposal is that the MSDF patrol near Yemen, not part of the main force.
—The Abe government seems to have concluded that they need to cave in, once again, to US pressure and send military forces to the Persian Gulf region. They are now trying to figure out what kind of military role they can play that exposes them to the least danger.
—Foreign Minister Taro Kono asks new British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to ensure an “orderly” Brexit that does not harm Japanese companies in the United Kingdom. This seems to be a retreat from the Abe government’s former line that a “No Deal Brexit” must be avoided.
—Air Self-Defense Force resumes flights of F-35A stealth fighter jets for the first time since the fatal accident off the coast of Aomori Prefecture.
—Noted war criminal US National Security Adviser John Bolton pushing idea of basing US medium range missiles in Japan and South Korea now that the Trump government disowned the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. China warns it would retaliate against such moves.
—Consulate General of Japan in Detroit warns Japanese citizens about “gun society” America: “Heeding to the possibility that shooting incidents could happen anywhere in the U.S., which is a gun society, please continue to stay alert as a precautionary measure.”
—US President Donald Trump vows retaliation against any nation, including Japan, that issues travel advisories to their citizens over US gun violence: “When somebody does something negative to us in terms of a country, we do it to them,” Trump explained.
—New York Post: At Hamptons fundraiser, President Trump tells the guests (wrongly) that Shinzo Abe’s father was a kamikaze pilot, and that he asked Abe if kamikaze pilots were on drugs or something. Trump says Abe replied, “No, they just loved their country.”
—US President Donald Trump is pushing nations like Japan, the United Kingdom, and others to make large-scale purchases of US agricultural products. Trump is likely seeking to use these agreements to secure his political base in rural states ahead of the 2020 elections.
—North Korea abductee rescued! Well… actually he wasn’t rescued, wasn’t an abductee, and has nothing to do with North Korea. It turns out one of the men listed by the Japanese government as a possible North Korea abductee was living quietly in Miyazaki Prefecture. Oops!
—Abe government planning to turn this month’s Tokyo International Conference on African Development meeting into a more openly anti-China event, utilizing coded language about the need for African nations to avoid excessive debt, etc.
—Fifteen years after a US Marine helicopter crashed onto the campus of Okinawa International University, the university president renews calls for Futenma base to be closed. Fortunately the accident occurred during the summer break, but Marines took control of the campus.
—Government panel proposes moderate hike of the minimum wage, but far below the levels demanded by opposition parties. The consumption tax hike in October to 10%, as a regressive form of taxation, will hit the poor far harder than it will hit the wealthy.
—Discount for Bad Manners: It is bad manners to walk and eat in Japan, right? Well, the Abe government planning to have 10% sales tax rate at theme parks for those who sit and eat at the tables, and a lower 8% sales tax rate for those who walk and eat. Bad manners discount.
—More than eight years after the Fukushima disaster, TEPCO finally acknowledges the obvious reality that the Fukushima Daini nuclear reactor must be decommissioned. They seemed to have believed that Fukushima Prefecture might agree to continue hosting active nuclear reactors.
—TEPCO taking a notably harder line on agreeing to financial settlements over the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, starting to reject the compensation recommendations of government mediators and daring Fukushima citizens to sue them, knowing they have little time and money.
—Japanese financial authorities becoming alarmed at the strengthening of the Yen versus the US Dollar (105.91 at this moment). The strengthening Yen could hit Japan’s export strategies and hurt the inbound tourism market, already threatened by the South Korea trade war.
—Renault is trying to gain Nissan’s support for a merger with Fiat Chrysler by proposing that Renault reduce its 43% stake in Nissan, something which has been annoying the Japanese nationalist Hiroto Saikawa-led leadership of the company.
—Carole Ghosn on the legal system that has kept her unable to contact her husband for four months: “This cruel separation with no end in sight is further evidence of his persecution under Japan’s hostage justice system. It is a vicious retaliation designed to break him.”
—The Reconstruction Agency, with a mandate to rebuild Tohoku after the destruction of the March 11, 2011, tsunami, is scheduled to be dissolved at the end of March 2020, but the government is likely to keep it in existence beyond that date.
—The Cabinet Office posts initial estimate that the Japanese economy grew by 0.4% in the April-June 2019 quarter. This represents three consecutive quarters of growth.
—Labor Ministry reports it told a total of 5,160 businesses in 2018 to improve some aspect of working conditions for foreign workers who had come to Japan under the Technical Intern Training Program. Some interns were forced to work more than 180 hours of overtime a month.
—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe trying to put a positive spin on the bilateral trade talks with the United States that his administration was pressured into agreeing to: “We will aim to achieve a win-win outcome at an early stage,” Abe declared.
—Delta Air Lines announces that it is withdrawing completely from Narita Airport. Its US-bound lines will all be shifted to Haneda Airport and its Asia-bound lines will be handled by its partner, Korean Air.
—Many Japanese electronics and other firms said to be moving their production facilities out of China, increasingly concerned about the trajectory of the US-China trade war.
—Seven & i Holdings to admit total defeat and pull the plug on its new 7pay mobile payment service completely. Unlike rival FamiPay, launched at the same time without incident, 7pay was quickly hacked and became a national embarrassment.
—With Lawson trailing behind and Seven-Eleven Japan hit by the major fiasco of the hack of its failed 7pay initiative, only FamilyMart and FamiPay is left standing as an operating mobile cashless payment system developed by one of Japan’s major convenience store chains.
—PayPay, the mobile cashless payment system backed by SoftBank and Yahoo Japan, has announced that they now have more than 10 million users and 1 million stores in Japan participating in the system.
—Russian Minister of Construction Vladimir Yakushev to visit Japan from to discuss smart city technology. Improving the urban environment is one of the points in Japan’s eight-point cooperation plan with Russia. Pilot projects have been conducted in Voronezh and Vladivostok.
—Joetsu city in Niigata Prefecture hits 40.3 degrees Celsius, the highest temperature so far this summer and not too far off the all-time record heat set last summer.
—Tokyo police renew campaign to track down seven former members of the Japanese Red Army, now all in their 70s, with new sketches. According to the police, they still pose a physical threat to the nation and that it is important to “educate” young Japanese about their actions.
—Welfare Ministry reports that almost 160,000 child abuse cases were handled by child consultation centers during the last fiscal year. This figure has been climbing rapidly, probably because people are now more willing to report suspected cases of child abuse.
—The Prime Minister’s Office set up a Crisis Management Room to collect information about the possible Ebola case of a Saitama woman who had traveled to the Democratic Republic of Congo, but ultimately the tests came back negative for the virus.
—From next March some passenger planes going to Haneda Airport will pass directly above Tokyo, including the Shinjuku area.
—FEW Japan Board of Directors for the 2019-2021 has been elected, with Kirsten O’Connor as president. For Empowering Women (FEW) is a Tokyo-based network dedicated to supporting women, especially in the professional sphere.
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