Morning Alert   -   Wednesday, September 12, 2018
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Morning news

NHK and NTV gave top play to reports that Hokkaido residents are being urged to conserve electricity since the quake-damaged Tomato-Atsuma Thermal Power Station will not be completely restored until November. TBS and Fuji TV led with reports on an allegation that Japan Weightlifting Association Chairman Miyake harassed female members of the national team. TV Asahi gave top play to a report that actress Yoshiko Mita's son was arrested for using stimulant drugs.

Nikkei gave top play to a GOJ plan to limit mail delivery to weekdays to ease the burden on a postal service strapped for workers while the other national dallies led with reports on continued power-conservation efforts in Hokkaido.


U.S. appears ready to hold second summit with DPRK

All national dailies reported on remarks made to the press on Monday by White House Press Secretary Sanders, during which she reportedly said that the process of coordinating a second summit with the DPRK is already underway in response to Chairman Kim Jong Un's letter requesting another meeting with President Trump.

Asahi asserted that although National Security Adviser Bolton reportedly expressed the view that a second meeting between President Trump and Chairman Kim this year is possible, the paper's analysis is that there is no clear path toward denuclearization in sight at this juncture. The paper speculated that Kim may have sent the President the letter requesting a second meeting out of concern that his leadership will be questioned at home if the DPRK's relations with the United States deteriorate further. The paper wrote that according to a former senior DPRK official, Pyongyang is hoping to find a middle ground with Washington before the midterm elections out of concern that the Trump administration's interest in the DPRK will wane after November. Yomiuri conjectured that the President may be hoping to urge Chairman Kim to submit a list of North Korea's nuclear facilities and a roadmap for denuclearization ahead of the midterm elections.

Abe and Mongolian leader agree to cooperate in resolving abduction issue

Asahi and Yomiuri wrote that Prime Minister Abe and Mongolian President Battulga held talks in Vladivostok on Tuesday. The papers wrote that the two leaders agreed to continue to work closely to resolve the abduction issue as soon as possible and confirmed the importance of implementing UN Security Council resolutions to put pressure on North Korea.

Japanese, ROK foreign ministers confirm close cooperation on DPRK

Asahi, Yomiuri, and Nikkei wrote that Foreign Minister Kono held bilateral talks with his South Korean counterpart Kang Kyung-hwa on Tuesday in Hanoi. Asahi speculated that the meeting was intended to exchange views ahead of South Korea's scheduled summit meeting with North Korea in Pyongyang on Sept. 18-20. Kono told reporters afterward that he and Kang confirmed that Japan and the ROK will cooperate closely with the United States in preparation for the upcoming inter-Korean summit.

U.S., Japan to continue talks on Iranian oil imports

Nikkei wrote that MOFA announced on Tuesday that the governments of the United States and Japan held the third round of their talks on the U.S. sanctions on Iran in Washington on Monday. The paper wrote that concerning Washington's request to halt imports of Iranian crude oil by Nov. 4, the GOJ asked the USG to exempt Japan from the sanctions so as to prevent their having an adverse impact on Japanese businesses. According to the paper, the two governments agreed to continue discussions.


U.S., Japan to hold "FFR" trade talks as early as Sept. 21

NHK reported this morning that Economic Revitalization Minister Motegi and USTR Lighthizer spoke by phone on Tuesday evening, saying that the two officials confirmed arrangements for a second round of trade talks as early as Sept. 21 ahead of the planned U.S.-Japan summit to be held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. The network claimed that although the GOJ is apparently hoping to proceed with the talks while avoiding bilateral FTA negotiations, President Trump has been repeatedly calling on Japan to take concrete actions to reduce the U.S. trade deficit with Japan.

Aso indicates possibility of holding economic dialogue with Vice President Pence

Asahi wrote that Finance Minister Aso told a regular news conference on Tuesday that he may hold an economic dialogue with Vice President Pence following a session of minister-level trade talks on "free, fair, and reciprocal" trade scheduled for later this month.


State Department approves possible sale of new early warning aircraft to Japan

Tuesday evening's Nikkei ran a Kyodo story from Washington saying that the Department of State announced on Monday that it has notified Congress of a plan to allow the possible sale of up to nine E-2D Advanced Hawkeye Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft to Japan for use by the Air Self-Defense Force. The total cost of the planned procurement of the aircraft would be $3.135 billion. The report said that the department stressed that the E-2Ds will boost Japan's early warning capabilities but will not change the military balance in the region.

Japan, Malaysia agree on defense cooperation

Yomiuri wrote that Defense Minister Onodera and visiting Malaysian Defense Minister Mohamad Sabu met on Tuesday and reached an agreement on defense cooperation between their nations, including Japan's export of defense equipment to Malaysia. The two defense chiefs also confirmed their commitment to urging the DPRK to denuclearize in a complete, verifiable, and irreversible manner.

Nikkei ran a similar story saying that Japan and Malaysia signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the promotion of defense cooperation, including exchanges between their forces and Japan's provision of defense equipment, adding that the MOU is in line with Prime Minister Abe's "free and open Indo-Pacific" strategy. The paper conjectured that Japan is strengthening its defense cooperation with Indo-Pacific nations, including ASEAN members, to counter China's moves to expand infrastructure investment in the region and construct military bases in the South China Sea. Onodera reportedly told his Malaysian counterpart that it is important to ensure freedom of navigation and the rule of law in order to maintain the peace and prosperity of the international community.


Japan proposes partial resumption of commercial whaling at IWC conference

Yomiuri wrote that Japan proposed a partial resumption of commercial whaling and changes to decision-making rules at a five-day International Whaling Commission (IWC) conference that began in Florianopolis, Brazil, on Monday. The paper wrote that it remains to be seen whether the commission will accept Japan's proposals because there is strong opposition to commercial whaling among its members. According to the paper, Japan argued that a review of the moratorium on commercial whaling that was imposed in 1982 has remained unaddressed for years and that sufficient populations of specific species of whales have been scientifically verified. The paper wrote that Australia has already voiced opposition to the Japanese proposals, and the Netherlands, Germany, and the UK will also likely oppose them.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team