This Week in Japan
Sunday, September 15, 2019
The latest headlines in Japan for the week of September 9, 2019
Top news stories for the week of September 9, 2019
- Abe reshuffles cabinet, selects Shinjiro Koizumi as Environment Minister
- Nissan Ousts CEO Hiroto Saikawa
- Penalties for smartphone use while driving toughened
- Gay couple sues government for long term visa
Abe reshuffles cabinet, selects Shinjiro Koizumi as Environment Minister
With two years left as Prime Minister, Abe reshuffled his cabinet on Wednesday in a strategic move to reward those who supported him during the election, punish opponents and increase his overall, political popularity. He retained many of the usual suspects like former education minister Hakubun Shimomura as head of the LDP’s Election Strategy Committee and Toshihiro Nikai as secretary-general and Fumio Kishida as policy chief. The biggest buzz is around newly appointed Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi, the politician that has been in the news for recently announcing about his nuptials to TV celebrity Christel Takigawa. Koizumi, the son of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, spoke about his commitment as Environment Minister to reducing plastic waste. Before his appointment he spoke about taking paternity leave when his new wife delivers in January, but there is speculation about if he will follow through giving this appointment. Polling shows that Abe's approval rating raised to 55.4% after his cabinet reshuffle.
Nissan Ousts CEO Hiroto Saikawa
Scandal strikes Nissan again as CEO Hiroto Saikawa was asked to step down by the board for yet another scandal of underreporting compensation. Last year Nissan's CEO of two decades Carlos Ghosn was arrested for underreporting compensation and misappropriating funds. It is now clear that Saikawa also received ¥96.5 million via stock appreciation rights, or ¥47 million after tax. In a press conference on Monday, the board announced the departure of Saikawa placing Chief Operating Officer Yasuhiro Yamauchi as interim CEO until a permanent replacement is decided in mid-October. Nissan's sluggish sales and global reputation took a huge hit last year, in addition to soured relations with main investor Renault SA via the French Government. A merger deal with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV also collapsed so the next CEO will need to straighten out he ship and find a way to restore Nissan's reputation.
Penalties for smartphone use while driving toughened
Starting on December 1st, new driving laws will be implemented to curb the use smartphones while driving. Amid a slew of accidents including inattentive drivers distracted by their smartphones, the government announced stricter penalties for offenders on Friday. Presently, the penalty for smartphone use while driving was one point on one's license and a fine of ¥5,000 to ¥7,000 depending on the vehicle being driving. The points will now increase from 1 point to 3 points for one offense and the fines will be between ¥12,000 and ¥25,000. For cases where others were put in danger the points will go from 2 points to 6 points and repeat offenders will face a fine up to ¥100,000 and could potentially face up to 6 months in prison.
Gay couple sues government for long term visa
An American man married to his same-sex partner in the United States sued the central Government with the demand that it grant him a long term visa in Japan. The couple living together in Tokyo are seeking damages of 11 million yen claiming that the government's repeated denial of a long term visa is infringing on the couple's right to live together as a family. Long term residence status of up to 5 years is granted to opposite sex spouses married to Japanese nationals but the same is not offered for same sex couples. The lawyers for the gay couple stated that not granting long term visa status to the American man is discriminatory. The couple has been together for 15 years and got married in the United States in 2015 after same-sex marriage was legalized. The American man currently resides in Japan on a temporary visa and could face deportation if the Japanese government refuses to renew it.