What has caught my attention:
- Still slack-jawed with amazement am I at the Government of Japan's seemingly brand new approach to the decision of the International Court of Justice on the so-called scientific whaling program, outlined in this pdf available on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website: http://www.mofa.go.jp/files/000104046.pdf
For a government that has until this point claimed the moral high ground in disputes, calling for a strict adherence to international law (Link) the Abe administration claim that the ICJ does not have jurisdiction anymore over research whaling is mind-blowing. Taking disputes to the ICJ is a consensual process: both states accede adjudication willingly, under the presumption that whatever the Court's decision will be, the states will abide by it.
Unsurprisingly, the Australian Government is stunned by the GOJ's move (Link 1 and Link 2). What can the government of Australia do? Rescind the just agreed-upon visit by the Prime Minister (Link)? Downgrade security coordination? Mess with the submarine acquisition?
As for the Abe Government/MOFA, what the heck do they think they are doing? Is not strict adherence to the rule of law the cudgel of choice for bashing the People's Republic of China for that country's actions in the East China and South China Seas? Or does the rule of law only apply to territorial disputes (a possible reading of Abe's address to the U.S. Congress, cited above)?
- Party time at the party headquarters!
Masterful is the Liberal Democratic Party's latest gambit on a two-tiered system for the legally-mandated rise in the consumption tax from 8% to 10% on 1 April 2017: have the list of those items eligible for a lower tax rate expand incrementally (Link - J).
Absolutely gob-smacking brilliant! Have a tiny list of items at the outset, simplifying the passage of the necessary adjustment legislation through the upcoming 2016 Regular Session of the Diet, allowing the coalition partner Komeito to keep its promises of a lower tax rate for household necessities made to the Married Women's Division of the Sokka Gakkai. Include the new, lower tax rate as a part of the package of goodies coalition candidates can crow about in their House of Councillors campaigns next summer. Then, from here until eternity, have representatives of companies and industrial & consumer groups lounging around in the hallways of the LDP, begging for inclusion of their items in the list of "household necessities."
- I wrote a short piece for the FCCJ's Number One Shimbun arguing that Abe Shinzo is likely to avoid visiting Yasukuni for the rest of his term in office. My reasoning? Abe has found something even better than Yasukuni. (Link)
I have worried that Abe can reverse himself, that in the giddy atmosphere of Abe's unchallenged reelection as president of the LDP and the continuing lack of public interest in the opposition parties he might pay a visit to Yasukuni out of sheer adolescent exhilaration.
My worries were considerably lessened by Hagi'uda Ko'ichi's declaration to the Nikkei that in the name of regional peace Abe need not go to Yasukuni (Link). If Hagi'uda, the Yasukuni bagman (Link) whom I have characterized as Abe's "Id" (in the Freudian sense, with Abe as the Ego and Suga as the Super-Ego) is now on board with Abe's avoiding Yasukuni in the interests of diplomacy, then the deal is pretty much done.