Morning Alert   -   Tuesday, April 23, 2019
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Morning news

NHK, TV Asahi, and TBS led with follow-up reports on the terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka. NTV gave top coverage to a traffic accident in Kumamoto yesterday. Fuji TV reported on the mass resignation of teachers at a private school in Yokohama.

Asahi and Nikkei gave top play to reports on Renault's alleged proposal earlier this month on a merger with Nissan, while Yomiuri led with a report on Tokyo prosecutors' indictment of former Nissan Chairman Ghosn for the fourth time. Mainichi and Sankei gave top coverage to updates on the terror attacks in Sri Lanka.


Ambassador Hagerty, Senator Coons stress importance of U.S.-Japan cooperation

Mainichi ran an op-ed co-authored by Ambassador Hagerty and Senator Coons in which they stressed the importance of U.S.-Japan cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. The two officials said the Indo-Pacific needs billions of dollars in new investment, adding that the investment should be efficient and sustainable and must involve the private sector and contribute to economic growth and social development. They pointed out that the United States and Japan do this kind of investment well. They emphasized that the United States and Japan are committed to helping emerging countries become successful economies and creating new trading partners. They went on to say that U.S.-Japan cooperation advances the interests and values they share with emerging market partners, and that these partnerships have never been more important.

Senator Coons: Sanctions against DPRK should not be eased before denuclearization

NHK reported online on Monday evening that U.S. Senator Christopher Coons, a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, told the press in Tokyo earlier in the day that although the DPRK has announced its testing of a new type of tactical guided missile and is taking a tough stance in demanding concessions from the U.S., the U.S. government's economic sanctions should not be relaxed until North Korea takes dramatic measures toward denuclearization. Noting that the U.S. and Japan are on the same page with regard to maintaining the sanctions while the ROK advocates easing certain sanctions to persuade the DPRK to denuclearize, Coons was quoted as saying: "Personally, my opinion is closer to Japan's position." He reportedly expressed hope for even closer coordination between the U.S., Japan, and South Korea so that there will be no "surprises" in the talks, stressing the importance of the three countries communicating closely and coordinating their responses.

U.S. to end waivers for Iranian oil imports

All national dailies reported on a White House announcement on Monday that the United States will end its sanctions waivers for nations importing Iranian oil. Last November the United States granted 180-day sanctions waivers to several countries including Japan but it now says that these nations will no longer be exempted from the sanctions after May 2. The papers quoted Secretary of State Pompeo as telling reporters that the decision is intended to bring Iran's oil exports to zero and urge Iran to act like a normal country. Asahi speculated that the move could trigger an increase in crude oil prices in the international market. Sankei wrote that the prices of gasoline and other oil products may rise in Japan in response to the U.S. decision. However, Mainichi wrote that Japan, where Iranian oil accounts for about 5% of imported crude, is unlikely to see a disruption in oil supply.

Japan, Russia discuss joint economic activities in Northern Territories

Nikkei, Mainichi, and Sankei wrote that Japan and Russia held a meeting of senior diplomats in Tokyo on Monday to discuss joint economic activities in the Northern Territories. Senior Deputy Foreign Minister Mori and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Morgulov participated in the meeting. The papers wrote that the two nations agreed to launch new working-level talks to discuss the details of joint economic activities on the four islands. Nikkei wrote that although the Russian side proposed visa-free travel between Hokkaido and Sakhalin, it would be difficult for Japan to accept the idea out of concern that the arrangement could lead to Japanese recognition of Russia's claim over the four islands.


USFJ official expresses support for possible commercial use of Yokota AB during Olympics

Asahi and Nikkei wrote that when asked about the possibility of allowing commercial aircraft to use the Yokota AB during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Brig. Gen. Mahoney, deputy commander of the U.S. Forces Japan, told media outlets on Monday that the USFJ is ready to support the idea "one hundred percent if there is a request." However, Sankei quoted Brig. Gen. Mahoney as saying that the USFJ is ready to support the idea fully if the U.S. side approves the details. The papers also quoted the deputy commander as telling journalists that nothing has been decided yet on how to deal with commercial aircraft at the Yokota base or other U.S. military facilities, adding, however, that the requirements for the plan and U.S. cooperation with Japan in hosting the Olympics are under discussion by the two nations' working-level officials.

Jiji and Kyodo ran similar stories, with Jiji saying that the deputy commander welcomed U.S.-Japan cooperation in cybersecurity by reportedly telling the journalists that cybersecurity is an area where the United States and Japan can find good opportunities to enhance their information sharing and interoperability and that the two nations will be able to swiftly integrate and work closer in this domain. The wire service interpreted this remark as the deputy commander stressing the importance of U.S.-Japan cooperation in new domains such as space, cyberspace, and electromagnetic waves.

Okinawa files complaint over suspension of prefecture's retraction of landfill permit

Asahi, Nikkei, and Sankei wrote that the Okinawa prefectural government filed on Monday a fresh complaint with the Central and Local Government Dispute Management Council, a third-party body attached to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, against the land minister's suspension of the prefecture's retraction of its landfill permit for the FRF construction at Henoko, claiming that the action by the land minister was illegal. The panel is set to make a decision on the case within 90 days.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team