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Japanese News: June week 3

Only two main topics this week! The Diet session and M. Kake’s press conference:

Japanese supporters clean up the stadium after winning against Colombia

On Tuesday, Japan won its first match (2-1) of this year’s World Cup against Colombia. What struck observers, however, is how Japanese supporters took the time to clean up after themselves in the stadium. Colombian press talks of “sportsmanship”. Even though they won, Japanese supporters stayed respectful and willing to give a good image of themselves. This is what the Colombian press said:

“ゴミを拾う日本人サポーターを祝福するコロンビアファンの姿が多く、スポーツマンシップに溢れる光景であった.”

  • 溢れる・あふれる: overflow

Current Diet session to be extended

If I understand this article correctly, this current Diet session was to end on June 20th, but Abe wants to extend it for a month to pass important bills:

政府・与党は、20日に会期末を迎える今国会を1カ月程度、延長する調整に入った.

  • 調整に入る・ちょうせいにはいる: I am not sure, but I think we can translate it literally by “enter (a phase) of adjustment or regulation.” This adjustment being here an extension, a prolongation.

According to the article, the main reason for this prolongation is that Abe wants to pass a bill relative to casinos. They initially wanted to extend the Diet session until July 8th, but given that Abe will go to Europe in July, it might be too short to approve the bill. It seems indeed that the opposition is strongly against it. Therefore, they decided to extend the Diet session until July 20th. The ruling party said:

IR法案の採決に野党が抵抗すれば、7月8日では厳しい

  • IR法案・ほうあん: IR (Integrated Resorts) Bill. If I understood correctly, this bill wants to develop casino resorts to attract tourists on the one hand, and prevent gambling dependance of locals on the other hand.
  • 採決・さいけつ: vote (a bill)
  • 抵抗・ていこう: resistance, opposition

Left-wing criticism

The decision to expand the current Diet session is criticised by Mainichi. First of all, reforms such as the IR bill and, most of all, the labour reform, cannot be rushed. Both reforms are:

“いずれも与党が数の力で押し切るわけにはいかない法案だ.”

  • 数の力で押し切る・かずのちからでおしきる: override, overcome by the weight of numbers. I think that, in our context, it refers to the ruling party being able to push through any reform because they have such a clear majority at the Diet. The LDP together with the Komeito forms a coalition that has a large majority at both houses of the Diet. But just because the ruling coalition can force reforms through does not mean they should do it.

This is particularly true for the labour reform because it contains a controversial part which is the 高度プロフェッショナル制度(高プロ). To test the necessity of this 高プロ, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare conducted an interview with a sample of 12 persons…

“高度プロフェッショナル制度(高プロ)の必要性を把握するため、厚生労働省が行ったヒアリング調査の対象がわずか12人だった手抜きが判明.”

I also remember having read a survey some weeks ago about whether or not the labour reform should be passed during the current Diet session. 50% were against this decision, and 27% supported it.

Our article continues with the Mori-Kake scandals. Although they are still not settled, Abe seems to be avoiding dealing directly with the problem by expanding the Diet session. The article points out:

今回、比較的大幅な延長幅となったのは、この問題はもう乗り切れると判断しているからなのかもしれない.

  • 乗り切る・のりきる: survive, get through safely

Taro ASO’s strange comparison

Taro ASO, Minister of Finance, made a strange comparison between the stoppage time in football (soccer) and the extension of the Diet session. He said:

“2対1で終わるかと思ったら、ロスタイムが5分。長く感じた。国会の延長も同じだ。ロスタイムの間に下手な失点が起きないようによろしくお願いします” (source)

  • 失点・しってん: points one allows one’s opponent in a game

It took me some time to understand what he means. Japan was winning 2-1 against Colombia at the end of the regular playing time of 90 minutes. Aso thought it would be the final score, but there was still 5 minutes of stoppage time to play. During those 5 minutes, Colombia tried to equalise to end up with a draw, this is why they seemed “long”.

If I understand correctly, Aso is comparing the one month Diet extension to the 5 minutes stoppage time. The ruling party would be Japan and the opposition Colombia. In the same manner that he hoped Japan would not concede a goal to Colombia during the stoppage time, he hopes that the opposition will not raise its voice during the month to come and let the ruling party pass their bills without interfering. (I don’t know if so many things are implied in Aso’s comparison, but this is how I read it)

The opposition said it was a “サッカーへの冒とく.”

  • 冒とく・ぼうとく: blasphemy, sacrilege

M. Kake’s press conference

Following the Kake Gakuen scandal, the head of Kake Gakuen and friend of Abe, M. Kotaro KAKE (加計孝太郎・かけこうたろう) gave a press conference on Tuesday (19th). The press conference’s main point was to deny having met Abe in 2015. To add some context, let’s recall that a document sent by Kake Gakuen to Ehime prefecture stated that Abe and Kake had met in 2015 and that Abe knew and encouraged the project. Later, Kake Gakuen said that this document was forged and that the meeting did not take place. It is the first time, however, that Kotaro KAKE explains himself directly on this matter.

Kotaro KAKE said, about the meeting: “記憶にも記録にもない” (source). Haha, M. Kake should be asked to write sample sentences for kanji textbooks!

But to be honest, I don’t really see what is the point of all this. Even if the meeting did take place, I could hardly see Kotaro KAKE admitting it now, it would place his friend Abe in an awkward position, to say the least!

Some officials at Ehime prefecture criticise this press conference, saying that it comes to late and that Kake did it only to make himself an “alibi”: 獣医学部新設問題理事長会見「遅い」「アリバイ作り」愛媛県職員ら不信感. I am not sure how we should understand “アリバイ作り”, but I think that the idea is that Kake made a press conference to somehow clean himself and be done with it. He can now say that he made a press conference about the issue and does not need to explain himself further.

The governor of Ehime Prefecture even asked for a document that could prove that the meeting did not take place: 首相面会否定できる記録示せ愛媛知事が注文.

And finally, Mainichi sums up the issue in an editorial, saying that M. Kake’s explanation was not enough:

“しかも、加計氏は面会を虚偽だとする明確な根拠を示さず、「記憶にも記録にもない」と説明しただけだ.”

He just said “記憶にも記録にもない”, without showing any clear proof that the meeting did not take place.

Moreover, the editorial points out that even if what they say is right and the meeting did not take place, Kake faces another problem: “首相は架空の面会話で名前を悪用されたことになる.” In other words, they misused Abe’s name to serve their purpose. Indeed, writing in an official document that Abe said something he never said to push one’s project forward is not a small issue. However, M. Kake does not seem to have dealt with the problem properly:

“そのうえ、軽い内部処分とおわびで済ませようというのは、ことの重大さをわきまえていない.”

  • わきまえる: to understand, to discern, to know, to bear in mind

He thinks he can resolve the issue by taking some intern steps, this shows that he does not grasp the importance of the issue.

That’s it for this week! I am following with interest Japan’s team performance at the World Cup!

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