Morning Alert   -   Thursday, September 6, 2018
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Morning news

All networks gave extensive top coverage to reports on a powerful earthquake that jolted southern Hokkaido in northern Japan at about 3 a.m. today. The networks said the quake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.7 and a seismic intensity of upper 6 on the Japanese scale from 0 to 7. The quake cut off power to about 2.95 million households across the prefecture and caused large-scale landslides and multiple houses to collapse in the town of Atsuma, where 20 people have been reported missing. According to the networks, as of this morning, one person appears to have died and many others have been injured by the quake.

The networks also reported that Hokkaido Electric Power Co's Tomari Nuclear Power Plant has lost its external power source due to the quake, saying that the nuclear fuel in the spent fuel pools of the plant's three reactors is being cooled safely using an emergency power supply system.

Major front-page items in national papers included the extensive damage that Typhoon Jebi inflicted on Kansai International Airport, the official kickoff of the LDP presidential election campaign tomorrow, and a South Korean diplomatic delegation's meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.


ROK delegation meets with Kim Jong Un in DPRK

All papers reported from Seoul on a day trip to North Korea by a five-member South Korean diplomatic delegation on Wednesday, saying that the visitors paid a courtesy call on Chairman Kim Jong Un and delivered a letter to him from President Moon perhaps asking him to swiftly present a denuclearization roadmap as called for by the United States. According to Yomiuri, the USG is demanding that the Kim regime take concrete steps toward shipping some of its nuclear warheads out of the country ahead of the midterm elections in November. The paper speculated that the ROK envoys probably told the DPRK side that a declaration on ending the Korean War could be issued this year if it takes concrete measures toward denuclearization. Asahi said some of the delegation members will visit Washington soon to brief officials there on their meetings with the DPRK side.

Abe congratulates new Australian leader

All papers reported that Prime Minister Abe spoke by phone with his Australian counterpart Morrison yesterday to congratulate him on becoming the new Australian prime minister. They reportedly agreed to enhance coordination in dealing with North Korea, create a "free and open Indo-Pacific" region, and swiftly effectuate the TPP.

Putin to visit Japan next year

Yomiuri reported from Moscow that according to a senior Kremlin official, Russian President Putin is likely to visit Osaka next June to attend the G20 summit, saying that this would be his first trip to Japan in two and half years.

Three Japanese firms notify Iran of suspension of oil imports

Yomiuri reported that Showa Shell and two other Japanese oil companies informed the Iranian side yesterday of their decisions to suspend Iranian petroleum imports beginning in November. Other papers ran similar stories, with Mainichi adding that oil prices may surge worldwide as Japanese, European, and other oil firms are now trying to reach out to Saudi Arabia and other suppliers.


U.S. military helicopter makes unscheduled landing in Okinawa

All national dailies except Nikkei reported that a Futenma-based aircraft made a precautionary landing at Kumejima Airport in Okinawa on Wednesday afternoon due to a problem with its electrical system, noting that no damage or injuries were reported. The Marine helicopter, which had taken part in a drill at a nearby outcrop before the landing, reportedly returned to MCAS Futenma about three hours later. Since the unscheduled landing disrupted commercial flights, the U.S. military reportedly apologized for "causing inconvenience."

Okinawa civic group calls for referendum on Futenma relocation

Asahi and Sankei reported that an Okinawa civic group submitted to the prefectural government yesterday a petition containing some 93,000 signatures calling for the creation of a local ordinance on holding a prefecture-wide plebiscite on the FRF construction project off Camp Schwab. The prefectural assembly is expected to start deliberations on the proposal this month, which will probably be endorsed because politicians who were close to the late Governor Onaga hold a majority in the legislature. A referendum should be held within six months after the ordinance is issued. Asahi added, however, that the referendum may not be held if former Ginowan mayor Sakima prevails in the gubernatorial election scheduled for Sept. 30.


Kansai International Airport remains closed

All papers reported extensively on the continued closure of Kansai International Airport on Wednesday due to the severe damage caused by Typhoon Jebi. The papers underscored that since the airport will probably remain out of service for the immediate future, local governments and businesses are worried that the prolonged closure will have adverse effects on the local economy by affecting inbound tourism and disrupting shipments of cargo such as semiconductors, machinery, and pharmaceuticals. One of the airport's two runways might be able to start accommodating flights again in about a week, but there are no prospects in sight for the resumption of the use of the other runway.


Japan to propose reform of International Whaling Commission

Asahi reported on the International Whaling Commission conference to be held in Brazil next week, saying that Japan is expected to formally present a package of proposals for organizational reform, including relaxing the present decision-making mechanism that requires the consent of three-quarters of the member states on key issues. While noting that the GOJ also plans to propose ending the existing moratorium on commercial whaling, the article projected that the Japanese proposals probably will not be accepted by a majority of the members. Sankei published a similar report, adding that Australia and European members have already reacted strongly to the Japanese suggestion. The paper added that a Japanese academic will chair the IWC confab for the first time in 47 years.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team