Prime Minister Noda got his bill to revise the sales tax (currently 5%, to be raised to 8% in April 2014 and 10% in October 2015) through parliament but only after major concessions to the opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). The tax was supposed to fund better welfare and pensions but discussion of these was shelved to widespread disillusionment; taxes are to be raised but we're not sure what we're going to get in return.
Ozawa, old fashioned dealmaker, and 50 of his supporters voted against the bill and promptly got expelled from the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ). One of them was Koriyama's MP, one of 'Ozawa's girls' Kazumi Ohta. There'll probably be a general election by the end of the year. Will she get in again? I doubt it. At the station bumped into former MP, very expereienced LDP politician Takumi Nemoto. But would he get in? Widespread feeling that there's nothing to choose between the parties (though this is not confined to Japan).
Hashimoto, Mayor of Osaka, has set up a 'university' to train politicians for his 'Isshin-to' (Reform Party) and many people are looking to the regions, to new blood which might shake up the system. But the DPJ was inexperienced and real power lies with the bureaucracy, especially the Ministry of Finance. Would the young Turks be able to control them and make changes?
Only two days after the governor of Fukui announced he was happy for the nuclear plant at Oi to restart, came the announcement, out of the blue, that the shinkansen bullet train is to be extended to Tsuruga (a stone's throw away) and to Hokkaido. Welcomed by those localities which have been campaigning for it for a long time. But what a coincidence! Nuclear plants in Hokkaido to open next? The DPJ came to power on a platform of 'people rather than concrete' and this decision doesn't sit well in the current climate of austerity. Plus ca change.
The new chairman and CEO of Tepco have been doing the rounds. To their credit, they've visited lots of places in Fukushima and ominously Fukushima Daini (No.2) plant. Governor Sato has called for all reactors in Fukushima to be closed down but apparently Daini has been repaired and could be reopened anytime. I wonder what's going to happen?
But if you'll excuse me, I'm going on holiday. A quick flit to England then to a family wedding in Austria. And I'm going to take a rest from Fukushima. Back on the 14th.
All the best