2016 promises to be a year of antic swings between craziness and simply more of the same – that is, if any of our journalist prognosticators’ crystal-ball musings come true.
A fresh poll ahead of the upper house election says a record percentage of Japan’s electorate would re-elect Shinzo Abe “in the right circumstances.” Nearly a fifth of those polled said they would most likely opt for Abe if they bumped into him after “4-5 glasses of shochu” in a small bar. Abe, who has yet to score higher than 18 percent of the popular vote, said he had never been to an izakaya in his life, but “might have a rethink.”
– David McNeill, Independent
Japanese cyber-crime prosecutors announce defeat over Bitcoin theft case; French CEO of Mt Gox declared innocent after 6 months of looming incertitude.
– Nathalie Stucky
1) The estimated costs of the Olympics rise, as do electric bills and Tepco’s profits but not the earnings of the average person. 2) Stories about weird Japan continue to proliferate as new players join the media circus in Tokyo. 3) Newly flavored Kit-Kats appear on the market.
– Jake Adelstein
Demographic and economic reality make it clear the center of world gravity has moved from the Atlantic Ocean to Eurasia. Expect continued geopolitical turbulence, especially in the Middle East, as a result.
– Benjamin Fulford
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced the new focus of his “Abenomics” economic program. “It will be robots,” he said and changed one of his ministers for a machine.
– Alexander Lenin, Rossiyskaya Gazeta
Toyota Motor Corp. widens its lead as the world’s biggest automaker. But airbag supplier Takata Corp. is forced to abandon the airbag inflator business after regulators order it to recall every single inflator it has made using the suspect ammonium nitrate chemistry linked to deadly airbag explosions and millions of recalled vehicles.
– Hans Greimel, Automotive News
Seismologists Masaaki Kimura and Katsuhiko Ishibashi’s next prediction: a “big one” soon with an epicenter in Shizuoka Prefecture. Dr. Kimura says “by 2017.” The year 2016 will prove they’re not quacks on quakes.
– Lucy Birmingham
Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has admitted during his treason trial that he was an agent of the Chinese government. His mission, Abe testified, was to facilitate China’s takeover of Japan. “Abenomics would reduce Japan to an economic basket case, and crypto-fascism coupled with historical revisionism would make us a global pariah,” Abe said. “Then no one would care when the Chinese offered to buy Japan and turn it into a giant theme park.” Prime Minister Toru Hashimoto said that when Abe is found guilty he will be sent to the government’s new re-education facility on the Senkaku Islands.
– Steve McClure
There will be several shouting matches in the Main Bar between supporters of the so-called ex-Presidents lawsuit and their opponents, and at least one fist fight, leading up to the March GMM vote on the merits of the case. But when it is all over the Club will still be standing. (Fingers crossed on that last one.)
– Bob Whiting
The government cuts the target again for women in leadership roles, this time to 5 percent by 2050, with Abe explaining in a speech at an international conference, “Japan must address its problems of low birth-rate and shortage of elderly care workers before it can allow women to abandon their duties in the home.”
– Gavin Blair
As enthusiasm for Japanese food spreads around the world, 7-Eleven is awarded its first Michelin star for its famous cold spaghetti sandwich.
– Richard Lloyd Parry, the Times
Beijing faces serious unrest in Xinjiang
– Greg Clark
Abe reads election victory as mandate to rewrite Constitution
– Julian Ryall, Daily Telegraph
Abe to launch panel to study Donald Trump’s immigration policies
– Andy Sharp, Bloomberg
In a dramatic volte-face, Japan relaxes its immigration policy to accommodate millions of U.S. citizens following the election of President Trump.
– Justin McCurry, Guardian
Tokyo’s basic taxi fares rise to ¥10,000. Abenomics backfires.
– Yosuke Watanabe, Kyodo, Beijing
An interceptor drone from the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department’s newly deployed crime-fighting drone squad brought down a mysterious unidentified aerial vehicle (UAV) by trapping it in its net. No claims of ownership by terrorist organizations have been received.
– Tim Hornyak
After the July House of Councilors election, Seiji Maehara, Sumio Mabuchi and Akihisa Nagashima will leave the DPJ to form, along with some survivors of the JIP, a political party called the New Security Club. Seiichiro Murakami will quip: “They’ve left the DPJ? When were they ever in it?”
– Michael Cucek
Increasingly common sights in Japan, 2016: Goromaru, tornadoes, and mosquitoes in December.
– Mary Corbett
At an electrifying FCCJ press event, former prime minister and kingmaker Kakuei Tanaka, who was believed to have passed away in 1993, announces his return to politics. Appearing remarkably spry at age 97, Tanaka says he’d been in hiding at an undisclosed location in Niigata Prefecture while undergoing rehabilitation from a stroke. Explaining that he “could no longer abide” by the policies of the Abe government, he announces his candidacy for the summer upper house elections as a member of the newly formed Ganso Jiminto (Original Liberal Democratic Party), with Ichiro Ozawa and other core members of the former Tanaka faction. The new party’s manifesto assumes a strongly pacifist stance, calling for repeal of the new Security Law, improved relations with neighboring Asian nations and stemming the widening gap between the affluent and the poor.
– Eiichiro Tokumoto
Tensions in Okinawa will boil over after clashes between police and protestors over the relocation of Futenma air base to Henoko lead to fatalities. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will continue to insist there are no other alternatives.
– Eric Johnston, Japan Times
Horoscopes will be scientifically proven to be so accurate that the difference between primates will render reddish-brown orangutans entirely unsuitable stand ins for red fire monkeys, and climate change will re-introduce dragons to areas of Central Asia (and Wales).
– Andrew Pothecary, cover designer, ox
Despite the ruling by the Japanese Supreme Court against allowing married couples to keep their surnames, the prime minister’s wife Akie goes back to her maiden name Matsuzaki. To show that he is serious about “Womenomics,” her husband Shinzo follows suit and adopts his wife’s surname.
– Sonja Blaschke