Morning Alert   -   Thursday, September 27, 2018
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Morning news

NHK gave top play to a report on the U.S.-Japan summit, saying that the two leaders agreed to begin bilateral trade talks to conclude a Trade Agreement on Goods. NTV, Fuji TV, and TV Asahi led with reports saying that powerful Typhoon Tarmi may make landfall on Kyushu and move up the Japanese archipelago over the weekend. TBS gave top play to an update on the resignation of sumo stablemaster Takanohana.

Major front-page items in national dailies included a report on several cases of "death from overwork" at Mitsubishi Electric, a GOJ plan to create a roadmap detailing steps to be taken over next three years to overhaul the nation's social welfare system, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's alleged willingness to start dialogue with Japan "at an appropriate time," and additional findings of car data falsification at Nissan and Suzuki Motors.


U.S., Japan agree to begin bilateral trade talks to conclude new trade agreement

NHK reported this morning that President Trump and Prime Minister Abe agreed during their summit in New York on Wednesday to enter into bilateral trade negotiations, including on tariffs on agricultural products, in order to conclude a Trade Agreement on Goods (TAG). The network said the two leaders also confirmed that the U.S. will not raise tariffs on Japanese auto imports while the trade negotiations are taking place. The network showed the President saying: "We've agreed today to start trade negotiations between the United States and Japan. This was something that for various reasons over the years Japan was unwilling to do, and now they are willing to do, so we're very happy about that. I'm sure we will come to a satisfactory conclusion." The network then showed PM Abe saying: "I understand that Minister Motegi and USTR Lighthizer had a wonderful discussion. Based on that result, I look forward to having constructive discussions on how to further strengthen the U.S. and Japanese economies."

The network reported that the two leaders said in a joint statement that they reaffirmed their "determination to further expand trade and investment between the United States and Japan" as well as to "realize free, fair, and open development of the global economy." The network also highlighted that the joint statement says, "For Japan, with regard to agricultural, forestry, and fishery products, outcomes related to market access as reflected in Japan's previous economic partnership agreements constitute the maximum level," interpreting this to mean that Japan will not make greater concessions in agriculture than what it has already agreed to under the TPP and other trade agreements.

Meanwhile, the network also said the two leaders closely coordinated on how to deal with North Korea following the summits between South Korea and North Korea, the U.S. and South Korea, and Japan and South Korea, and once again confirmed that they will continue to work together bilaterally and trilaterally with South Korea to ensure the complete implementation of UNSC sanctions resolutions and resolution of the abduction issue.


Secretary Pompeo to visit DPRK capital next month

All papers wrote that Secretary of State Pompeo met with his DPRK counterpart Ri in New York on Tuesday and the State Department announced afterward that the Secretary will visit Pyongyang in October at the invitation of Chairman Kim to discuss denuclearization. In a tweet posted after the session, the Secretary said he had a "very positive" discussion with Ri and that "much work remains, but we will continue to move forward." According to the dailies, during an interview with the CBS conducted before the meeting with the North Korean official, the Secretary commented on the possibility of a second U.S.-North Korea summit by saying that it "may" happen in October but would be more likely to take place "sometime after that." He also reportedly disclosed that in a message to President Trump delivered by South Korean President Moon, the DPRK leader expressed his intention to denuclearize and agreed to host inspectors to verify denuclearization measures.

Moon predicts discussion on declaration to end Korean War during second U.S.-DPRK summit

Yomiuri and Sankei took up a Fox News interview with ROK President Moon, during which he mentioned the idea of arranging another summit between President Trump and DPRK Chairman Kim, which the South Korean leader projected could be held "this year." Moon indicated that the issuance of a declaration on ending the Korean War would probably be discussed during a second U.S.-North Korea summit. The South Korean president stressed that the denuclearization of North Korea could be completed before President Trump's first term expires in January 2021, adding that Washington should establish a liaison office in the DPRK capital in preparation for the stationing of inspectors to monitor the proposed dismantlement of the Yongbyon nuclear facility.

DPRK not eager to begin dialogue with Japan

Asahi reported on remarks on Japan-DPRK relations made to South Korean President Moon by his DPRK counterpart Kim during the inter-Korean summit last week, speculating that Kim's alleged readiness to hold dialogue with Tokyo "at an appropriate time" may be deceptive, as the North Korean media has stepped up its criticism of Japan lately. According to a source involved in bilateral ties, the phrase "appropriate time" means that the Kim regime will not commence dialogue with the Abe administration until it addresses the issue of compensation for Japan's colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula, which is the most important point for North Korea. The daily speculated that since Pyongyang is currently preoccupied with arranging a second summit between Kim and President Trump, it may have little interest in dealing with Tokyo right now.

As for Japan's reaction to Kim's alleged remarks, the paper wrote the Abe administration believes that a summit between Abe and Kim will only become possible after progress is made between the U.S. and North Korea on denuclearization. The daily quoted a Kantei source as saying: "The United States is North Korea's [dialogue] partner right now. There is little chance that the DPRK will take steps" to start dialogue with Tokyo.

Sankei and Nikkei ran similar stories, with the former noting that some Japanese officials are concerned that ROK President Moon appears to be overly eager to mediate Japan-DPRK ties with the ultimate aim of improving his nation's relations with its northern neighbor. Nikkei conjectured that Chairman Kim perhaps mentioned his readiness for dialogue with Japan in a bid to ease its opposition to the idea of issuing a declaration on ending the Korean War.

Japan-Iran summit held in New York

Nikkei wrote that Prime Minister Abe held talks with Iranian President Rouhani in New York on Wednesday and expressed Japan's support for the Iran nuclear accord irrespective of the U.S. withdrawal from it. The Iranian leader responded by asking the PM for continued cooperation in maintaining the pact. The two leaders also reportedly exchanged views on U.S. demands to halt imports of Iranian petroleum. The daily wrote that Tokyo has been put in an awkward position in dealing with Tehran on account of the strong criticism leveled against Tehran by the Trump administration, explaining that the GOJ did not disclose to the press what the two top officials said with regard to President Rouhani's invitation for Abe to visit Iran. According to the article, some GOJ officials believe it will be difficult for Abe to go to Iran in the near future in view of the escalated animosity between Washington and Tehran.

Abe to meet with Xi in late October

Sankei front-paged a story claiming that final arrangements are underway for Prime Minister Abe to visit China on Oct. 23, the 40th anniversary of the effectuation of the Japan-China Peace and Friendship Treaty. Abe is set to deliver a speech at a ceremony marking the anniversary and then attend an informal dinner hosted by Premier Li. He will likely meet with President Xi in the afternoon of Oct. 24. During his stay through Oct. 25, he is likely to participate in a business seminar on the "Belt and Road" initiative and hold discussions with Beijing University students. He may also tour an industrial complex in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province. The daily added that before traveling to Beijing, Abe will visit Spain and France, and then attend the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), which will be convened in Belgium on Oct. 18-19.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team