Morning Alert   -   Thursday, March 28, 2019
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Morning news

NHK led with a report on the government's plan to have Prime Minister Abe deliver a statement after Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga announces the new era name on April 1. TBS and Fuji TV reported on a fire on a dinner cruise boat in Tokyo yesterday evening. TV Asahi gave top coverage to the arrest yesterday of a woman and her boyfriend for the murder of her ex-husband in Taito Ward, Tokyo, on March 9. NTV's top story was about a kindergarten in Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture, suddenly announcing its closure on Tuesday, only one week before the new school year starts.

Top stories in national dailies included the enactment of the record 101-trillion-yen national budget for fiscal 2019 (Asahi, Mainichi), a report put together by an external committee tasked by Nissan Motor Co. to improve its corporate governance (Nikkei), and delays in rebuilding aging public infrastructure (Yomiuri).


GOJ mulls using Mageshima for ASDF training

Mainichi wrote that the GOJ is studying the idea of allowing the ASDF to conduct short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) training for its F-35B aircraft on Mageshima in Kagoshima Prefecture, which is a candidate site for U.S. aircraft carrier field carrier landing practice. The paper speculated that the idea is intended to deflect criticism of the increased cost of purchasing the island by emphasizing that it will be used by the SDF as well as the U.S. military.

Diet approves special measures law on defense equipment procurement

Yomiuri and Nikkei wrote that on Wednesday a revised special measures law on the procurement of defense equipment was enacted, extending the existing law for another five years until March 2024. The papers wrote that the law is intended to curb Japan's defense spending by allowing the government to pay for expensive defense equipment in installments for up to ten years.


Russian envoy comments on peace treaty talks with Japan

Asahi reported on a speech delivered by Russian Ambassador to Japan Galuzin in Tokyo on Wednesday, quoting him as saying that talks between Japan and Russia on a peace treaty are not intended to be "barter trading" in which Russia receives investment from Japan in exchange for the Northern Territories. Referring to the 1956 Japan-Soviet Joint Declaration, the Russian envoy stressed that it is necessary for Tokyo and Moscow to first conclude a comprehensive peace treaty that will promote peaceful cooperation between the two nations. Galuzin also called on Japan to accept the "outcome" of WWII and remove "security concerns" held by Russia over the U.S.-Japan alliance. Concerning Prime Minister Abe's apparent consideration for Russia by refraining from referring the Northern Territories as an "integral part of Japanese territory," the ambassador said that Japan is sending out the wrong message because its new elementary school textbooks for fiscal 2020 describe the islands as territories of Japan. Nikkei ran a similar report.

Asahi also wrote that Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga commented on Galuzin's remarks during a regular press briefing on Wednesday by saying that the government conducts proper screening of school textbooks and there has been no change in its legal position on the Northern Territories.

Anti-Pyongyang group admits involvement in raid on DPRK embassy in Spain

Asahi, Yomiuri, and Sankei wrote that a group advocating the overthrow of the Kim Jong Un regime posted on its website on Wednesday a statement admitting its involvement in a raid on the North Korean Embassy in Madrid on Feb. 22. The organization, Free Joseon, emphasized in the statement that the raid was not an attack on the embassy, but was a "response to an emergency situation in the embassy," and that it has shared with the FBI "information of enormous potential value" that it obtained in the raid. Asahi wrote that according to ROK government sources, the organization consists of North Korean defectors and Korean- Americans. The paper noted that the group is believed to be behind an effort to relocate the family of Kim Jong Un's half-brother Kim Jong Nam, who was killed at an airport in Kuala Lumpur in March 2017.

Yomiuri and Sankei wrote that Spanish judicial authorities announced on Wednesday that a Mexican man who is allegedly a key member of the group of 10 perpetrators fled to the United States and contacted the FBI on Feb. 27 to share materials stolen in the raid. According to Yomiuri, State Department Spokesperson Palladino said at a press briefing that the United States government had nothing to do with the incident.


Young generation more amenable to fourth term for Abe

Referring to the results of its recent opinion survey, Nikkei reported its finding that support for the idea of Prime Minister Abe serving an additional term as LDP president and remaining prime minister was strongest among the young generation. The paper wrote that although 35% of the respondents overall were in favor and 54% were against the idea of Abe serving a fourth term, 53% of respondents aged between 18 and 39 supported it, while 31% did not. Pointing out that surveys conducted by other outlets have shown similar trends, the paper speculated that the LDP is developing an election strategy with the young generation in mind, including measures to engage in online debate, for the Upper House race in the summer.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team