Morning Alert   -   Tuesday, September 18, 2018
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Morning news

NHK gave top play to a report that train services connecting the city of Osaka and Kansai Airport, which were suspended when a bridge was damaged during a typhoon earlier this month, were resumed this morning. NTV and Fuji TV led with reports on the torrential rain in the Tokyo area on Monday evening. TBS gave top play to a report that actress Kirin Kiki died at the age of 75 on Saturday. TV Asahi led with a report on a press conference held by Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka before the opening of the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo.

Top stories in national dailies included a GOJ plan to dispatch GSDF personnel to a multinational peacekeeping operation on the Sinai Peninsula (Asahi), the United States' preparations to impose additional tariffs on Chinese imports (Yomiuri), the MSDF's antisubmarine drills in the South China Sea (Sankei), survey results showing that about 30% of Japan's national universities have been targeted by overseas hackers (Nikkei), and the Health Ministry's failure to thoroughly investigate the damage caused by forced sterilization in the past (Mainichi).


U.S., Japan plan to hold summit in New York on Sept. 26

Saturday morning's Yomiuri wrote that it has learned from several GOJ sources that the governments of the United States and Japan are making final arrangements for President Trump and Prime Minister Abe to hold bilateral talks in New York on Sept. 26. The paper wrote that the two leaders will likely discuss U.S.-Japan trade and the denuclearization of North Korea at their planned summit meeting. The paper added that the USG and the GOJ are also discussing the idea of the two leaders holding bilateral talks over dinner on Sept. 23.

Special Representative Biegun discusses DPRK with Japanese officials

Saturday morning's Yomiuri and Mainichi wrote that Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun held talks with Foreign Minister Kono on Friday at MOFA, saying that the two officials confirmed close bilateral cooperation between the United States and Japan and trilateral cooperation with South Korea to achieve peace and stability in Northeast Asia through the complete denuclearization of the DPRK. The papers added that the two officials also confirmed that the United States and Japan will continue to work together to resolve the abduction issue. Mainichi wrote that the U.S. and Japanese officials also discussed the DPRK's demand for the issue of an official declaration of the end of the Korean War.

Sunday's Yomiuri wrote that Special Representative Biegun held talks with Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau Director General Kanasugi on Saturday at MOFA, speculating that the two officials discussed U.S.-Japan strategy for North Korea ahead of the inter-Korean summit to be held on Tuesday. The paper conjectured that the two officials agreed that it would be premature to issue a declaration of the end of the Korean War as requested by the DPRK until Pyongyang takes concrete steps toward denuclearization and that the sanctions based on UN Security Council resolutions must be maintained.

Sunday's Mainichi wrote that Kanasugi told Special Representative Biegun that Japan is ready to provide financial and personnel assistance for IAEA inspections in the DPRK if Pyongyang allows the inspections to take place. The paper speculated that the U.S. official probably explained to Kanasugi the current status of U.S.-DPRK talks on denuclearization. Sunday's Sankei wrote that the U.S. and Japanese officials agreed on the need for the steady implementation of UN Security Council resolutions on the DPRK, including measures to prevent ship-to-ship cargo transfers.

Saturday's Yomiuri, Asahi, and Sankei wrote that Special Representative Biegun met with family members of Japanese abductees on Friday. The papers wrote that Takuya Yokota, the brother of abductee Megumi Yokota, expressed hope for U.S. support by saying that the families are seeking the return of all abduction victims.

Japan mulls sending GSDF personnel to peacekeeping mission on Sinai Peninsula

Tuesday's Asahi led with a report saying that it has learned from several GOJ sources that the GOJ is considering dispatching two GSDF members to the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) operating on the Sinai Peninsula to oversee activities of the Israeli and Egyptian forces. The paper noted that if the deployment is realized, this will be the first time for Japan to send SDF personnel to a multinational peacekeeping operation under the new security legislation enacted in 2015 to expand the scope of SDF activities overseas. According to the sources, the GOJ will make a final decision on whether to send the SDF personnel to the MFO following an onsite safety inspection by a team of officials from MOFA, MOD, and other government agencies. Tuesday's Mainichi and Monday's Sankei ran similar reports, with Sankei saying that the GOJ plans to dispatch GSDF personnel to the command center of the MFO early next year or later and that the GOJ is hoping that the deployment of GSDF personnel to the command center will help expand the scope of the GSDF's international experience and contributions.


MSDF submarine participates in drills in South China Sea for first time

Tuesday's Yomiuri, Mainichi, Nikkei and Sankei wrote that the MSDF announced on Monday that one of its submarines and three of its escort ships have conducted antisubmarine drills in the South China Sea. The papers wrote that this was the first time for the MSDF to announce its antisubmarine drills in the region, speculating that the announcement was intended to send a warning to China, which is stepping up its effective control of the South China Sea. According to MSDF sources, the submarine Kuroshio joined the helicopter carrier Kaga and two other escort ships in the region to conduct antisubmarine warfare exercises on Sept. 13. Following the drills, the Kuroshio called at Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam on Monday. It was the first Japanese sub to call at Cam Ranh Bay. Sankei speculated that the port call may be intended to demonstrate Japan's cooperation with Vietnam in view of its territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea.

In a related development, Yomiuri and Nikkei wrote that Prime Minister Abe stated in a TV interview on Monday that the drills were aimed at improving the SDF's capabilities and not intended to target a specific nation, and that Japan has been conducting antisubmarine drills over the past 15 years.

Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Ministry's spokesperson Geng Shuang commented on the MSDF's antisubmarine drills by saying that countries outside the region should respect efforts by nations in the region to peacefully resolve issues concerning the South China Sea through dialogue and should not make moves to undermine the peace and stability of the region.

Defense ministry eyes island in Kagoshima as new training site

Sunday's Sankei led with a report claiming that the Ministry of Defense is studying the idea of constructing a training site on Gaja Island, an uninhabited island off Kagoshima, for joint training to be conducted by the three branches of the SDF based on the scenario of recapturing a remote island from enemy forces. The paper speculated that the idea is aimed at responding to the potential threat of China's invading Japan's remote islands in the region. The paper wrote that the GSDF has been conducting amphibious exercises in the United States since 2006, but the ministry is studying the idea of building a new training site on Gaja Island to increase opportunities for the three branches of the SDF to conduct joint drills.

U.S. military helicopter makes "emergency landing" in Nagasaki

Monday's Mainichi wrote that the Defense Ministry's Kyushu bureau announced on Sunday that a Futenma-based U.S. military CH-53E helicopter made an "emergency landing" at Nagasaki Airport in Omura, Nagasaki Prefecture, at around 4:40 p.m. on Saturday. No injuries or damage to the aircraft were reported and the landing did not disrupt commercial operations at the airport. According to the defense bureau, the U.S. military informed it on Sunday morning that the helicopter made a precautionary landing after a warning light came on during routine training. The helicopter departed from the airport at 12:25 p.m. on Sunday. The paper noted that two other Futenma-based CH-53Es made "emergency landings" at Tsushima Airport in Nagasaki on Friday.


USTR chief agricultural negotiator comments on trade with Japan

Saturday morning's Asahi wrote that USTR Chief Agricultural Negotiator Gregg Doud commented on a bilateral trade agreement with Japan at a Senate hearing on Friday. He reportedly said that the issue is one of the Trump administration's top priorities and that an agreement should be reached without fail. The paper interpreted the remark to mean that United States intends to call on Japan to open its agricultural market ahead of the next round of talks on "free, fair, and reciprocal" trade and the U.S.-Japan summit expected to be held later this month.

Trade ministers of U.S., Japan, EU to make proposal on WTO reform

Tuesday's Nikkei wrote that the trade ministers of the United States, Japan, and EU are considering making a joint proposal for WTO reform with the aim of stepping up restrictions on protectionist practices in the form of government subsidies to industries. According to the paper, they are mulling the proposal in response to China's unfair trade practices. Nikkei said the United States, Japan, and EU are planning to discuss the issue at their trade ministers' meeting to be held in New York on Sept. 25 and come up with a proposal in the fall or later. The paper wrote that strengthening the functions of the WTO is becoming increasingly important in order to convince the Trump administration to stay in the multilateral trade framework. The paper wrote on Saturday that Trade Minister Seko is making arrangements to participate in a ministerial meeting with USTR Lighthizer, and European Commission Commissioner Malmstr=C3=B6m in New York on Sept. 25. Monday's Yomiuri ran a similar report.


IWC rejects Japan's proposal to resume commercial whaling

All Saturday and Sunday morning papers wrote that the International Whaling Commission (IWC) voted down on Friday by 41 to 27 a Japanese proposal to partially resume commercial whaling. Yomiuri wrote that the results of the vote demonstrated anti-whaling nations' strong opposition to commercial whaling. Vice Minister for Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Taniai, the head of the Japanese delegation to the IWC conference, stated after the vote: "The IWC is not functioning to fulfill its duties. Japan will examine all possible options." The papers interpreted this remark as indicating that Japan may withdraw from the IWC. Asahi wrote, however, that although some in the GOJ and the ruling LDP argue that Japan should withdraw from the commission, Tokyo would probably be forced to review its research whaling program if it left the IWC because Japan is conducting research whaling within the framework of the IWC. Nikkei wrote that Japan's whaling program is at a crossroads because although Taniai hinted at the possibility of Japan withdrawing from the IWC, there is strong opposition to the idea within the GOJ out of concern that doing so would have an adverse impact on Japan's diplomacy.


U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team