Reports on Session’s Resignation on Jiji.com

#TrumpsJapan

Prime Minister Abe Shinzō (LDP) must feel a sense of relief every time he opens the newspaper these days only to see the Trump administration’s latest fiasco. Abe, his close political associates, and even his wife have been drawing the ire of the people and the press lately for a variety of reasons–two in particular.

from The New Yorker
First, his wife, Akie, (and by extension, him) have been at the center of a controversial land deal in Osaka. The Abe’s influence is credited with negotiating a sweetheart land deal for an ultra-conservative kindergarten called Moritomo Gakuen. One may think, “A kindy? What could possibly be the big deal?” Well, consider this: the property is reported to be worth 13 million USD, but thanks to the head of the school’s (Kagoike Yasunori) political connections, they were able to buy the land for only 1.8 million! Heck, if land in Osaka is 86% off, then I’d start my own kindergarten. Hell–university! Which brings us to the next case…

Abe is linked to a second education-related controversy in which a veterinary school was seeking accreditation in Ehime, Shikoku (one of Japan’s four major islands; in western Japan close to both Osaka and  Hiroshima). The private education management company behind the deal is said to have sought accreditation directly from the government (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology–MEXT), without the consultation or even the support of the Japan Veterinary Medical Association (Nihon jūishi-kai 日本獣医師会). Japan’s population has declined by 1 million people in the past five years. Public universities are feeling the crunch as less and less students enroll, while some private universities have laid off large numbers of faculty–some have even gone bankrupt. Why on earth would MEXT grant accreditation to another college/ university when so many are in bad shape (both financially and in terms of student numbers)? The Japan Veterinary Medical Association has spoken out against the establishment of another veterinary school, and rightly so. Hopefully, MEXT will defer to their (the JVMA’s) better judgement.

With this in mind, last week’s reports of the Trump administration’s latest whispered turmoil may have given Abe the sense that he is not alone if the world of world-leaders and corruption. As Jiji.com‘s article “Is the U.S. Attorney General Resigning due to a clash with Trump?” says, Attorney General Sessions was a supporter of Trump early on in the latter’s presidential campaign, which put him in Trump’s close inner-circle. However, in March Sessions recused himself  from any investigations into the Trump campaign’s connections with Russian officials. The article says that Sessions has become increasingly unsatisfied with the administration and has put in his resignation.

At home, Americans may think that the Trump administration’s blunders and controversies do not extend past the evening news and SNL skits, but the foibles and outright blunders are being well covered all over the world.

The Trump administration’s instability and haphazardness detracts from America’s authority and leadership in the world. Controversy and corruption surrounding the leaders of Japan and the US, both at the same time, is not good for stability in Asia.

TV Asahi sets a High Bar for Trump’s 1st Overseas Visit

This TV Asahi link, posted on May 20th, is an optimistic pre-departure report on President Trump’s 5-nation overseas trip. It touches on all the good things that one would expect to hear about the President of the United States. It mentions how Trump will be visiting the holy places associated with Islam, Judaism, and Christianity with the aim of encouraging world peace. It goes on to describe Trump’s goals in Saudi Arabia (where he’ll be pushing for policy to be written against both ISIS and Iran), in Israel (where he’ll be looking for a common thread for peace between Palestine and Israel), and in Italy (where he’ll have an audience with the Pope, who has been openly against Trump’s immigration policies, and then of course attending the G7).

Indeed, world peace is something all Americans (regardless of their support for Trump or lack thereof) and Japanese people can get behind. With this in mind, visiting Holy Lands of the world’s three major religions certainly sounded like a nice gesture. But then to go on and say that Trump will be looking towards Saudi Arabia for support in anti-Iran policy does not really sound like a solid plan towards world peace–just more of the ‘Us vs Them‘ that we have been hearing all along. ISIS is just as much an enemy of Iran as it is with America. Remember the idea that ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend‘? The President would be wise to remember this.

As for brokering peace between Palestine and Israel–yeah, good luck with that.

And meeting with the Pope–I can not for the life of me understand why Trump would want to meet with the Pope, however this blogger is glad that he is. The soft power of Pope Francis is not to be under estimated. God willing, the encounter will have some positive effect on at least one person in the Trump entourage–hopefully enough of an effect to sway the administration’s course.

As for this trip’s effects on Japan, Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia and participation in the G7 will cause the most concern. Japan has a benevolent relationship with Iran. There are quite a few Iranian scholars and researchers in Japan, including here at Akita University. Any new, stricter US sanctions against Iran that Trump wants to hash out with Saudi Arabia could cause problems for Japan.

As for ISIS and the greater threat of terror, Japan has not been immune. A few Japanese citizens were killed in an Islamic terrorist attack in Bangladesh last year, and a Japanese reporter (Kenji Goto 後藤健二) was taken hostage and murdered by ISIS in 2015.

Japan would be happy with any measures the Trump administration could take against ISIS, but nobody benefits from Trump refusing to at least trying to make US-Iran relations more amicable.

http://news.tv-asahi.co.jp/news_international/articles/000101196.html