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    Seismic shifts (or not) in Japan

    A case of earthquake resistance fakery not perpetrated by Aneha (story so far as I’ve kept track) has surfaced:

    The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport disclosed on 8 February that it had confirmed a case of fraud related to structural calculations for three apartment complexes in Fukuoka City; the calculations had been contracted out to a design firm that was not part of Aneha Architecture and Design. The firm in question is Something (Fukuoka Prefecture; closed for business in 2002), and the construction firm for all affected buildings was Kimura Construction (Yashiro City, Kumamoto Prefecture; now in bankruptcy proceedings). This is the first case of such fraud that has come to light that did not involve former first-class architect Hideji Aneha.

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    Princess Kiko, the wife of the current Emperor and Empress’s second son Fumihito, is pregnant with her third child. The Nikkei seems to think it newsworthy that the British press is going bananas over the news–maybe there’s some sort of constitutional monarchy kinship thing going here? Anyway, the news feeds into the controversy over possible female succession that’s been percolating here:

    News of a new member of the imperial family comes as the government is moving to revise the Imperial House Law to allow females and their descendants to ascend the Chrysanthemum throne.

    However, conservative Diet members, especially those in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, oppose Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s stated intention to pass the revision during the current Diet session.

    No boy has been born in the imperial family since Fumihito in 1965.

    If the emperor’s next grandchild is a boy, he would be third in line to the throne under the current Imperial House Law.

    The English Asahi has another article specifically about the move to change the rules of successsion here. Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako, his much put-upon wife, have managed to produce a daughter, but she’s ineligible to become empress.

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    I was hoping there would be something deliciously inflammatory to report from the Japan-DPRK summit this week. (Well, stopping short of “We’re sending missiles to Tokyo, Insular Devils!”) No such luck. The talks ended today. The result? Negotiations must continue. Oh, okay:

    Japan and North Korea concluded their five-day schedule of talks on 8 February with a general meeting at a hotel in Beijing. Japan once again conveyed that its fundamental approach is that “until the issues of the 1970s abductions of Japanese citizens and of the DPRK’s nuclear program and long-range missiles are resolved, there will be no normalization of relations.” There was no progress in concrete terms. Both parties affirmed that parallel talks will continue on three major themes: normalization of relations, Japanese abductees, and North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

    Japan doubts the DPRK’s sincerity. The DPRK returns the compliment.

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    As always, they may (or may not) be contemplating increasing the consumption tax (or at least changing it in what might possibly be deemed a non-negative, non-zero direction). Yeah, I know–blah, blah, blah. What’s semi-interesting is that the DPJ seems to have wheeled Katsuya Okada out of the morgue to comment:

    The Prime Minister indicated that he is of the opinion that continuing reforms will be necessary even after [current] goals will have been achieved, stating, “It cannot be said that once the primary balance is in the black, financial restructuring is finished.” Okada proposed corrections, stating, “We must [first] think about what our next goals will be,” and ending with, “Those in positions of authority at that point in time will have to think about them.”

    That part of the back-and-forth, while not very interesting in and of itself, is important because Koizumi has made it clear that he expects his followers (called the “Post-Koizumi” government, in what has become a tediously over-repeated locution) to continue his program of reforms, by implication, to his liking. No one, either within the ruling coalition or in the opposition, is certain right now how well Koizumi will actually be able to use his present power to exert influence on future administrations.

    3 Responses to “Seismic shifts (or not) in Japan”

    1. John Mahoney says:

      From The Times of London:

      “Some have proposed, in a bizarre echo of history, that Prince Naruhito be introduced to concubines and encouraged to breed until a boy is born.”

      I love that “encouraged to breed”…

    2. I know. Like thoroughbred horses.

    3. John Mahoney says:

      I’m sure the Prince isn’t totally apposed to the idea – I mean for the good of the nation of course….

      John

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