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This Week in Japan (09.08.17)

This Week in Japan is your source for news and information about politics and other happenings in this East Asian island country. This episode covers the Top Five stories of the first week of September 2017.

Uniformed Officers Gaining Control of Defense Ministry

Uniformed Self-Defense Forces officers are currently demanding a larger role in setting military policies, which will for the first time utilize the security legislation forced through the Diet by the ruling coalition last September. Civilian defense bureaucrats have so far rejected the demands of the uniformed officers, fearing that acquiescing will decisively tilt the power balance between the two sides within the ministry.

Henoko and Ferguson

The various dramas occurring today near Henoko beach, Okinawa, and the city of Ferguson, Missouri, undoubtedly have many points of difference, but it is worth reflecting briefly on some issues that unite these two cases.

Gloves Come Off on Henoko Base Construction

The determination of the leaders of the Liberal Democratic Party to get tough on the Henoko base construction issue is becoming apparent to close observers. It has long been a question whether or not Tokyo was really willing to repress the popular will in Okinawa, which clearly opposes the construction of a new US Marine base, but the message is now coming through more openly: Let Okinawan opinions be damned! The base will be built!

TPP Rush Rattles the Ruling Party

“Joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations is a far-sighted policy,” declared Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to his Cabinet and journalists on Friday, “Japan should play a leading role toward a year-end deal.” The prime minister may be exactly right, but the fact is that very few independent observers have any firm basis for making a judgment. Not only are the TPP talks highly complex, they are also secret and moving very quickly.

Taro Aso’s Nazi Techniques

Deputy Prime Minister-cum-Finance Minister-cum-Minister of Financial Services Taro Aso, who is a former prime minister, grandson of the legendary Shigeru Yoshida, and related by his sister’s marriage to the imperial family, is increasingly becoming an international laughingstock and a political embarrassment to the Abe administration. After his latest gaffe, there is widespread speculation that Abe will simply dump him from the cabinet in the reshuffle expected next month.