Leaders clash at debate on eve of upper house election campaign



The leaders of Japan’s major political parties faced off Tuesday, one day before the start of campaigning for the July 10 upper house election, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pushing his economic record and opposition parties warning voters not to get distracted from the issue of constitutional reform.

Much of the debate at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo focused on whether Japan’s economy under the “Abenomics” policy mix is “still halfway along the road,” as claimed by Abe, or “stuck at a fork in the road,” as Democratic Party leader Katsuya Okada alleged.

Abe, Okada and the heads of seven other parties fought over the impact of the premier’s further deferral of an already delayed hike of the country’s consumption tax, a decision that has removed an anticipated source of tax revenue in the coming years.

“The economy has stalled and must be turned around,” Okada said.

The Democratic Party, Japanese Communist Party and others have united behind single candidates in all 32 contested single-member electoral districts in the upper house race against the ruling bloc composed of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party and junior coalition partner Komeito.

Half of the house’s 242 seats are up for grabs every three years, resulting in staggered six-year terms.

Having broken his previous promise not to again postpone the tax hike, Abe has said the ruling bloc is aiming to win at least half the contested seats—a higher hurdle than merely retaining its majority in the house—to serve as a public mandate for the continuation of Abenomics.

Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi pledged to keep a steady hand on economic policy and tweak promised social security reforms to achieve as much as possible even with the delay in the sales tax increase.

“We want to spread a sense of hope to those people the benefits of Abenomics haven’t reached yet,” Yamaguchi said.

But some in the opposition maintain Abe is seeking to fill the chamber with lawmakers amenable to amending Japan’s Constitution. A two-thirds majority across both Diet houses is required in order to call a national referendum on altering the war-renouncing document.

While acknowledging reform of the Constitution has always been an LDP goal, Abe continued to double down on economic and fiscal policy issues.

A moderator became increasingly exasperated as the premier kept pushing the economy, at one point interrupting him to ask, “What else have you got?”

The opposition also refused to let go of national security issues, with the JCP’s Kazuo Shii saying Abe’s envisioned defense reforms will turn the Japan-U.S. security alliance into “an alliance of blood.”

Okada and Shii called for the scrapping of controversial security legislation expanding the overseas role of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces and for a ground-up review of the security alliance.

Asked to explain the Abe Cabinet’s robust recent approval ratings, Okada claimed the media are neglecting to fully inform the Japanese people of the government’s failings.

Even though each candidate was given one minute to respond to a question, Abe was “allowed to talk on and on—it’s self-promotion,” Okada said.

The leaders of Initiatives from Osaka, the Social Democratic Party, People’s Life Party, New Renaissance Party and the Party for Japanese Kokoro also took part in the debate, largely focusing on securing revenue sources for social security and maintaining pacifism under the Constitution.


Mentally Ill lesbian couple forcing their son to be queer



A recent Buzzfeed video features a lesbian “gender non-conforming” couple speaking about how they force their son into “queer” relationships with his own gender.


The couple, Dashiell and Michelle, have no problem pushing a certain sexuality onto their son despite his young age.

“It’s really funny, because he’s, like, super into sports,” Michelle said. “Maybe he was, like, an Olympic athlete in his past life. He, like, came with all of these sporting talents that are, like, visible at 17 months. That’s what Dashiell liked growing up. She easily relates to him on that level.”

“I’m constantly, like, trying to queer my relationship with him and get him to wear tutus. He hates it. He’s just, like, ‘No,’” she continued. “When I catch myself trying to do these things, it ends up making me feel really retro and dumb about gender,” Michelle continued. “It just takes me away from the reality of, like, him, Atticus. Like, who is he? What does he want? And the sort of purity of the things that he’s interested in or delighted by. Obviously, I want to support whatever he wants to be.”

Michelle later concluded she doesn’t care what her son Atticus grows up to be; she just wants to give him the variety of options.

“Everyone needs to be reconsidering the way that they’re presenting gender to their kids. It’s not even whether or not Atticus is personally going to be a genderqueer or genderfluid person. Atticus can grow up to be a completely traditional cisgendered male and he needs to understand the variety of genders that are out there so that he can be a respectful human being in the world,” Michelle concluded.

Good luck, Atticus.

Campaigning for Upper House election to begin


Hundreds of candidates are about to launch their official election campaigns for Japan’s Upper House of the Diet.
The ballot is scheduled for July 10th.

Half of the 242 Upper House seats are at stake every 3 years.

They are divided between electoral districts and a proportional representation system.

NHK has learned that as of Tuesday, 387 people planned to run.

Voters will have a chance to rate Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic policies…called “Abenomics.”

National security laws that took effect in March are also expected to be one of the major issues. The legislation allows Japan to use force to exercise its right to collective self-defense.

Prime Minister Abe said that his ruling bloc aims to win a majority of seats contested this time. That’s 61 of the 121 seats up for grabs.

It will be the first nationwide election since Japan lowered the voting age from 20 to 18. That means some 2.4 million teenagers are eligible to take part.

And the electoral map looks a bit different this time.
Lawmakers have redrawn districts in an effort to correct voting disparities. In some places, they reduced the number of seats and reallocated them to Tokyo and other more populated areas.

The official campaign will continue for 18 days until Saturday, July 9th… a day before the vote.

Denmark defends circumcision as a human right – even though 75% are against it


Even though a large majority of Danes are against the circumcision of boys, and even though the circumcision of girls is strictly prohibited in Denmark, the government has now officially accepted that it’s a human right for parents to circumcise their sons.

The Local reports that a YouGov survey from 2014 showed that 74% of Danes were against the circumcision of boys, while only 10% supported the practise. Despite that, about 1000-2000 boys ar circumcised each year in Denmark,according to the CPH Post.

Since 2014, the matter has been reviewed but without much to show for it.

In 2015, Denmark decided to delete its registry of circumcised individuals,reports the Local. Now, in a report to the United Nations the Danish government officially accepts an Egyptian convention which recognizes circumcision as a human right, writes CPH Post.

The basis is that circumcision of boys is rarely associated with medical complications, when performed under medical supervision, and that it’s viewed as a religious expression and therefore falls under the freedom of religion right.

Circumcision of boys will therefore remain legal as it complies with Danish law and is carried out by a doctor.

Male circumcision can lead to a more problematic sex life. 

Contrary to claims that circumcision in males is unproblematic, however, a Danish study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology in 2011 finds that circumcision leads to frequent orgasm difficulties in Danish men. The study also finds that women who are the sexual partners of circumcised men also have significantly higher orgasm difficulties, more problems with painful intrcourse (dyspareunia), and more often feel a sense a incomplete fulfillment of sexual needs.