Feb 4th, 2017


1)   Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has met with US Defense Secretary James Mattis in Tokyo. Abe said he wants to maintain a strong Japan-US alliance under the new US administration.

Mattis paid a courtesy call to Abe on Friday evening after arriving from South Korea. He was the first member of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet to visit Japan.

Abe said he hopes and also is convinced that together with Mattis and President Trump, the 2 countries will be able to demonstrate the unwavering alliance inside and outside the country.

2)   A traditional bean-throwing festival to invite good luck has been held at a Buddhist temple near Tokyo.

The annual festival held on Friday at Naritasan Shinshoji Temple attracts about 50,000 people each year.

Among the celebrities taking part were sumo wrestler Kisenosato, who recently became a yokozuna, or grand champion, and actor Gin Maeda, who’s appearing in an NHK yearlong TV drama.

3)   Japan, which has a consistent trade surplus with the U.S., is putting the finishing touches on a package that it claims will create 700,000 jobs in the U.S. and help create a $450-billion market.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Trump are expected to meet on Feb. 10. Major Japanese newspapers cited a draft of the proposal that calls for cooperation on building high-speed trains in the U.S. northeast, Texas and California. The two sides would also jointly develop artificial intelligence, robotics, space and Internet technology.


4)   Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says the country needs a law to impose criminal charges on those plotting terror attacks ahead of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020.

Japan’s government is working to narrow the requirements for a plot to constitute a conspiracy, to establish the charge of preparing a terror attack and other organized crimes.

5)   The legal fight over President Donald Trump’s ban on refugees is likely to turn on questions of a president’s authority to control America’s borders and on whether the new immigration policy unconstitutionally discriminates against Muslims.

6)   The organizers of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics plan to urge the scheduled venue for golf to change its membership policy.

The Kasumigaseki Country Club in Kawagoe City near Tokyo does not extend full membership to women.

The Tokyo organizer said at its board meeting on Wednesday that it will work with the sport’s associations and the Japanese Olympic Committee to persuade the country club to change its policies.

7) Buddhist monk Kaichi Watanabe chants sutras to commemorate the one-year anniversary of a woman’s death.

The 41-year-old may look like a traditional holy man in Japan—but he wasn’t dispatched by a temple. Instead, the family ordered him through a fast-growing rent-a-monk business that has angered traditionalists who warn it is commercialising the religion.

Watanabe’s employer, Tokyo-based firm Minrevi, said demand for its monk delivery service has spiked since it started in May 2013, as more and more Japanese lose their ties to local temples—and lose faith in an opaque donation system.

The firm has a roster of about 700 monks nationwide with business on track to grow by 20% this year, he added.