Morning Alert   -   Tuesday, September 25, 2018
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Morning news

NHK gave top play to a report that President Trump said at his meeting with South Korean President Moon on Monday that his second summit with Chairman Kim will be announced "quite soon" and that it will most likely take place in a location other than Singapore. Fuji TV gave top play to a report on Typhoon Tarmi, which is approaching Japan. TV Asahi led with a report on the dinner meeting between President Trump and Prime Minister Abe in New York. TBS led with a report on a Chinese actress who has gone missing, while NTV gave top play to a report on a series of incidents in which someone has been puncturing car tires in Kanagawa.

Major front-page stories in national dailies included the escalated trade friction between the United States and China following the imposition of tariffs on additional Chinese imports on Monday and President Trump and PM Abe's dinner meeting in New York.


Abe holds "constructive discussions" with President Trump on trade, DPRK

All national dailies reported on a dinner that President Trump hosted for Prime Minister Abe at Trump Tower in New York during which they apparently discussed North Korea and the bilateral trade imbalance. The premier was quoted as telling the press afterward: "We were able to exchange opinions in a candid, in-depth manner not only on U.S.-Japan relations but also on a range of issues concerning the international community". We held constructive discussions." According to the papers, during the 150-minute one-on-one meeting President Trump called for Japan to take concrete steps to reduce the U.S. trade deficit with it.

While noting that the U.S. leader rolled out the red carpet for the prime minister by inviting him to his private residence with the aim of demonstrating their "extraordinarily close bond," Yomiuri opined that the U.S. leader may have stepped up the pressure on Abe to make concessions on trade since he needs to score a trade win to buoy up Republican candidates ahead of the November midterm elections. The daily projected that President Trump will firmly reiterate his trade demands during their planned summit on Wednesday, quoting a Washington-based diplomatic source as saying: "Because Prime Minister Abe has just been reelected, the President might say to him: 'Shinzo, make concessions for me because our elections are right around the corner.=1B$B!G!I=1B(B Mainichi wrote that although Abe was not planning to take up trade issues during the dinner meeting because they will be discussed extensively at Wednesday's summit, President Trump addressed them anyway to show that he is determined to rectify the bilateral trade imbalance.

Since this was the first direct meeting between President Trump and PM Abe following the landmark U.S-DPRK summit in Singapore in June, the President reportedly briefed the prime minister on his meeting with Chairman Kim. In response, the premier conveyed to the President the desire of the abduction victims' families to reach an early resolution of the issue. Abe told the press at the end of the meeting: "We agreed to amplify the momentum [for denuclearization] that was generated by the Singapore summit." Sankei said Abe had declined the President's invitation to play golf together so as to take part in a Tokyo rally on the abduction issue ahead of his departure for New York, conjecturing that the premier's foremost goal for the dinner meeting was to remind the U.S. leader of the importance of maintaining strong pressure on Pyongyang in the absence of concrete progress on denuclearization. The paper wrote that since President Trump was scheduled to hold a summit with ROK President on the next day, Abe may have cautioned him against readily issuing a declaration on the end of the Korean War or holding a summit with Chairman Kim this year.

President Trump anticipates another summit with DPRK leader in near future

All papers took up press remarks made in New York on Monday by President Trump, who said that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will arrange a second summit between him and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to take place "in the immediate future." He added that his relationship with Kim is "very good and in some ways... extraordinary." According to the articles, Secretary Pompeo separately said he is expecting to travel to Pyongyang in the near future to make final preparations for a second summit between the two leaders and is confident the meeting will take place.


"Trade war" escalating between U.S., China

All papers reported extensively on what they characterized as an intensifying "trade war" between the U.S. and China following Monday's imposition of a third round of U.S. tariffs against Chinese imports and Beijing's immediate leveling corresponding duties on American products in response. Pointing out that higher tariffs are now in place on almost half of U.S.-bound items from China, including home appliances and miscellaneous goods, Nikkei expressed the view that the trans-Pacific "trade war" has reached a dangerous level.

The papers wrote that Japanese manufacturers operating production lines in China will probably be hit hard by the Trump administration's tough stance on trade, with Yomiuri saying that the escalated trade friction between the two economic superpowers is prompting Japanese companies to review their parts supply chains in China and Southeast Asia. The papers underscored that companies will be forced to make additional investments if they decide to relocate their factories out of China.

Yomiuri conjectured that Washington and Beijing will engage in a "war of attrition" because there does not appear to be any sign of the trade tension being defused quickly. While quoting President Trump as saying in a White House statement released on Monday that he hopes the situation will be "resolved, in the end, by myself and President Xi, for whom I have great respect and affection," Asahi speculated that the two sides may try to seek a middle ground by arranging a meeting between their leaders on the margins of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires scheduled for Nov. 30-Dec. 1.

Nikkei projected that the issue of U.S. auto tariffs will be high on the agenda in Tuesday's "free, fair, and reciprocal" (FFR) trade talks between USTR Lighthizer and Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Motegi and Wednesday's summit between President Trump and PM Abe. The business daily conjectured that the Japanese side may agree to start talks on import tariffs on agricultural and other American products if the Trump administration promises not to level additional tariffs on Japanese auto imports. The paper added if a deal is reached in the FFR talks on autos and beef and other U.S. agricultural products, a joint statement on such an accord may be issued upon the conclusion of the Abe-Trump meeting.

Sankei said Prime Minister Abe will have to align his administration's China policy with the hard line pursued by President Trump at their summit on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Mainichi opined that the escalated tit-for-tat sanctions between the U.S. and China reflect the incompetence of the WTO as it is supposed to act as a "referee" in trade disputes.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team