Morning Alert   -   Friday, November 30, 2018
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Morning News

NHK led with a report on a videoconference held yesterday between the leaders of Nissan, Renault, and Mitsubishi. Nissan CEO Saikawa told reporters afterward that the three leaders confirmed the importance of the alliance. All commercial networks led with reports on a press conference held by Prince Fumihito on Thursday during which he said it would be difficult to allow his eldest daughter, Mako, to marry her fiance Kei Komuro before the outstanding financial issues of the Komuro family are resolved.

Top stories in national dailies included the press conference by Prince Fumihito, during which he expressed doubt about whether the government should finance the event to mark the enthronement of the new Emperor because it is a Shinto rite (Asahi); the rulings by South Korea's Supreme Court ordering Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to pay compensation to South Koreans requisitioned to work in wartime Japan (Sankei); French President Macron's reported call on Prime Minister Abe to hold a meeting on the Nissan-Renault alliance (Mainichi); a plan by 7-Eleven Inc. to introduce unmanned stores using facial recognition technology (Nikkei); and a joint project between the Culture Affairs Agency, the Imperial Household Agency, and the Yomiuri Shimbun to restore and preserve precious works of art.


ROK's top court orders another Japanese company to pay damages to requisitioned workers

All national dailies wrote that South Korea's Supreme Court on Thursday ordered Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to pay damages to two groups of South Koreans requisitioned to work in Japanese plants during the second world war, upholding lower court rulings in two lawsuits and dismissing MHI's appeals. In one lawsuit, filed by five South Koreans who were requisitioned to work in the company's plants in Hiroshima in 1944, the top court ordered MHI to pay compensation of about 8 million yen to each plaintiff. In the other lawsuit, filed separately by five female plaintiffs who worked at plants in Nagoya, the top court ordered MHI to pay compensation of 10 to 15 million yen to each plaintiff.

Foreign Minister Kono told reporters the rulings will have an immense impact on Japan's relations with South Korea and called on that nation to take appropriate measures. Kono also said in a statement released earlier in the day that Tokyo will consider all possible options, including international adjudication and countermeasures, and take resolute actions if South Korea fails to take appropriate steps. However, Kono added that Japan is prepared to wait for the ROK government to take action if it issues a message saying it will respond appropriately. Meanwhile, South Korea's foreign ministry issued a comment on Thursday saying it respects the supreme court rulings, adding that the Japanese government's "exaggerated reaction" is regrettable. Yomiuri conjectured that there are expectations within the ROK government that the United States will play the role of arbitrator between Japan and South Korea as it did in the comfort women issue under the Park administration.

Asahi speculated that political relations between Tokyo and Seoul are deteriorating because the ROK government, in the face of strong public support for the rulings, has not taken any specific actions and the Japanese government has hinted at countermeasures. Yomiuri commented that relations between Tokyo and Seoul are likely to cool further over the issue of compensation.


Okinawa requests third-party review of its decision to revoke landfill permit

All national dailies wrote that Okinawa Governor Tamaki on Thursday made a request to a third-party panel affiliated with the Internal Affairs Ministry tasked with settling disputes between the central and local governments to review Land Minister Ishii's revocation of Okinawa's rescindment of the landfill permit for the FRF construction at Henoko. The panel is expected to render a judgment on the relevance of the request within 90 days.

Yomiuri quoted Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga as telling reporters on Thursday that the GOJ is strongly hoping to realize Futenma relocation to Henoko, while Mainichi quoted him as saying that the GOJ will steadily move forward with the construction.

ASDF to conduct first-ever drills with Indian air force

Sankei front-paged a report saying that it learned from an informed source on Thursday that the ASDF is planning to conduct joint drills with the Indian Air Force for the first time early next month. The paper wrote that since both the GSDF and MSDF have already carried out joint drills with their respective Indian counterparts, India will become the third country, following the United States and the UK, with which all three branches of Japan's Self-Defense Forces have conducted joint exercises. According to the paper, the ASDF personnel who will be dispatched for the drills will also participate as observers in "Cope India," a U.S.-Indian joint air force exercise to be held in India on Dec. 3-14. The paper speculated that this is intended to strengthen Japan's trilateral cooperation with the United States and India in response to China's accelerating advancement in the Indian Ocean.

Suga comments on plan to relocate U.S. military training to Kagoshima island

Mainichi wrote that Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga commented during a regular press briefing on Thursday on the possibility of the GOJ purchasing Mage Island off Kagoshima from its owner and relocating U.S. military field carrier landing practice there. Suga was quoted as saying that securing a site for the training is an important security issue and that the GOJ will continue to make efforts to prepare a site at an early date.


Bill to ratify Japan-EU EPA clears Lower House

Nikkei wrote that on Thursday the Lower House cleared a bill to ratify an economic partnership agreement with the EU, paving the way for its passage through the Upper House this year during the current Diet session and for effectuation on Feb. 1, 2019. Under the agreement, Japan will eliminate duties on around 94% of its imports from the region, while the EU will get rid of tariffs on around 99% of imports from Japan. The paper speculated that Japan and the EU, both of which are engaged in trade negotiations with the United States, are aiming to keep Washington in check by swiftly expanding their free-trade zones.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team