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This Week in Japan (08.08.17)

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 August 2017.

Goshi Hosono Resigns as Democratic Party Executive

Another prominent Democratic Party conservative offered a resignation today, and defections are ongoing among Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly members. In the near term, these are heavy blows to the party leadership of President Renho and Secretary-General Yoshihiko Noda which might bring them down in the late summer months.

Shioya Resists Role as Fukushima Radiation Dump

As the Japanese nation approaches the fifth anniversary of the March 11 tragedy, the burden of dealing with the widespread radioactive contamination from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster continues to expand. Now this issue is seriously impacting even a small community in Tochigi Prefecture called Shioya.

Shinzo Abe’s True Colors Emerge

For almost a year now after his thumping victory in December 2012 we have found ourselves surprised again and again by Shinzo Abe. We have asserted repeatedly that the Abe that we were witnessing was not the “real” Abe, and that the agenda he was pursuing was based on a tactical calculation about what was necessary to maintain public support, but not a reflection of his basic character.

The Uncertain Road to Opposition Consolidation

There’s one thing that all of Japan’s significant, existing opposition parties seem to agree upon; and that’s that none of them have any hope of overthrowing Liberal Democratic Party rule on their own in the presumed double elections of July 2016. They must combine their forces in some new manner in order to present a credible alternative that people might actually vote for.

A Coup by Appointment: Debilitating Article Nine

It is not exactly an unknown technique in politics, but the Abe administration is using it in several high-profile cases, and some people, at least, have noticed. The technique is to establish supposedly “independent” panels or organizations, but appointing people to serve on those panels or in those organizations whose opinions and conclusions are already known in advance.

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.

Restarting the Nuclear Reactor Restart Battle

The results of Sunday’s House of Councillors election are a foregone conclusion in light of the electoral district system and the number of candidates run by each party. The ruling coalition of the LDP and New Komeito will win a strong majority in the upper house but cannot possibly win on their own the 2/3 majority required for constitutional revision. What we will have when the Diet next opens will be the Abe government popular with the public and in firm control of the parliament.