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A secret U.S.-Japan pact

The government reveals a large post-war Japanese deposit at the U.S. Fed. Two Okinawa base plans are floated in advance of a senior U.S. diplomat’s visit. The prime minister’s brother splits with the embattled DPJ. Princess Aiko misses school due to rowdy behavior. The Bank of Japan pumps up liquidity. And a device helps determine whether your date is lying about his/her age.

 Top News: An investigation by Ministry of Finance (MOF) officials, at the instigation of the DPJ government, has found that the Japanese government deposited $103 million into an account at the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank over a period of 27 years after Okinawa was given back to Japan in 1972. There were no official records of the monies kept at the MOF and there is speculation that this is evidence of a secret pact with the U.S. over the reversion of Okinawa to Japanese rule. The new administration has already investigated another secret pact with the US, which allowed nuclear-armed ships and aircraft access to Japanese airports and harbors. 

Meanwhile, the dispute with the U.S. over the relocation of a Marine base on Okinawa is continuing, with the Japanese government offering two alternatives to the previously agreed plan, before Kurt Campbell, U.S. assistant secretary of state for Asian and Pacific affairs, visits next month.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s younger brother, and political rival, Kunio, has quit the opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and looks set to form a new political grouping with a small group of senior defectors. Kunio has a history of political party-hopping. He left the LDP in 1993, forming a now defunct party, then founding the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) with his brother in 1996, before rejoining the LDP. The two siblings have ruled out a future political alliance with each other.

Although the DPJ made no promise in its manifesto to end capital punishment, no executions have been carried out during the first six months of its reign. The appointment as Justice Minister – who must personally sign-off on every execution – of Keiko Chiba, a member of a parliamentary group dedicated to abolishing the death penalty, may give a clear signal as to its intentions.

Local and foreign media have been giving a predictably large amount of coverage to 8-year-old Princess Aiko’s absence from school due to “rowdy behavior” on the part of some of her classmates.  The Imperial Household Agency, which announced the Princess’ travails to the press, was apparently unhappy at the amount of focus the story was getting from the local media, and that it had been reported around the world.

An American national running a private English conversation school is believed to have abused as many as 40 elementary school girls. Police have seized hundreds of videotapes from his home.

Money: The Bank of Japan is continuing the battle against deflation with further easing of the already super-loose monetary policy, pumping liquidity in the direction of banks to encourage more lending.

The former president of Fujitsu Inc, who retired last September supposedly on health grounds, has asked for his job back, saying he was forced out. The company now says he was relieved of his presidential duties due to dealings with a corporate group “said to have an unfavorable reputation” – widely understood to be a euphemism for organized crime. He has now also been fired from job as an adviser at Fujitsu which he had managed to hang on to; meanwhile, the Tokyo Stock Exchange is now looking into the matter.

Many of Japan’s major manufacturers are to award their regular annual pay hikes this spring, further evidence the economy is moving in the right direction.

About 22 kilograms (48.4 lbs) of gold, 79 kilograms of silver, two kilograms of palladium and 5,670 kilograms of copper, have been recovered from the “urban mine” of more than half a million old cell phones since September in a government-organized campaign.

Elsewhere: As companies have been cutting recruitment costs by moving their entrance tests online, some applicants have, perhaps predictably, been getting other people to do the exams for them.

A record 2.9 percent of the population admits to having used illegal drugs, though the largest portion, 1.9 percent of respondents, was accounted for by the use of various kinds of thinners. Cannabis users accounted for 1.4 percent, although the real figure may be higher given the taboo nature of the subject in Japan.

A device that emits high-pitched noises, similar to those that mosquitoes make, is being sold as a way to tell if a date is lying about their age. As people’s hearing changes when they get older, they become no longer able to detect higher frequency sounds; so just press the button, and if your date can’t hear it, they may be not be as young as they’re pretending to be. If they can hear it: presumably you need a good excuse as to why you’re playing with a toy that emits high-pitch mosquito noises during dinner.