Morning Alert   -   Thursday, May 16, 2019
The following information reflects the reporting of the cited news media and does not reflect the opinions of the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. Japan Media Highlights is intended for USG use only and should not be forwarded. Visit the website here. For more information, contact TokyoMATT@state.gov.


Morning news

NHK led with a report saying it has learned that today the LDP's Headquarters for the Promotion of Fiscal Reconstruction will propose to the government that the consumption tax be increased to 10% in October as planned. TBS reported that Lower House member Hodaka Maruyama is refusing to resign from the Diet over his remark that Japan may have to go to war with Russia over the Northern Territories. TV Asahi and NTV aired reports on a car that crashed in a park yesterday where preschoolers were playing in Ichihara, Chiba Prefecture, seriously injuring one of their teachers. Fuji TV gave top coverage to an online report by the weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun on a hit-and-run incident involving TV personality Junji Takada last month.

Top stories in national dailies included a GOJ plan to urge firms to allow employees to continue working until age 70 (Mainichi, Nikkei, Sankei), a GOJ plan to allow foreigners with four years of nursing care experience in Japan to switch to new working visas without taking a test (Yomiuri), and an announcement by Suruga Bank that its illicit loans total 1 trillion yen ($9 billion) (Asahi).


President Trump to pay call on Emperor, play golf, watch sumo during Tokyo visit

Yomiuri front-paged a report claiming that it obtained information from a GOJ source on Wednesday about the itinerary of President Trump's planned trip to Japan on May 25-28 as a state guest. President Trump will reportedly arrive in Japan on the evening of May 25, play golf with Prime Minister Abe in Chiba Prefecture, watch sumo and present a trophy to the winner of the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament at the Ryogoku Kokugikan Sumo Hall in Tokyo on May 26, and pay a call on the Emperor and Empress and hold bilateral talks with Prime Minister Abe on May 27.

The paper speculated that the President will discuss the DPRK, China, and U.S.-Japan trade negotiations at his talks with the prime minister and meet with family members of the Japanese abductees to convey to them the United States' readiness to cooperate with Japan in resolving the abduction issue.

TV Tokyo reported yesterday that it has learned that during his visit to Japan next week, President Trump will play golf with Prime Minister Abe at the Mobara Country Club in Mobara, Chiba Prefecture, on May 26. The network noted that professional golfer Isao Aoki, who will play golf with the two leaders, serves as a maintenance adviser to the golf course.

Japanese lawmaker briefed by USG officials on President Trump's reference to abductions

Asahi wrote that LDP lawmaker Keiji Furuya, who chairs a bipartisan parliamentary group on the abductions, told the group on Wednesday that he was told by USG officials earlier this month that President Trump brought up the abduction issue a total of three times during his two summits with DPRK leader Kim Jong Un. The paper noted that Furuya held talks with National Security Council Senior Director for Asian Affairs Pottinger and other USG officials in early May. The paper quoted Furuya as reportedly telling the group: "Senior Director Pottinger told me that Kim tried to change the subject [when the President referred to the issue the first time], but it was difficult for him to do so the second and third time." The paper wrote that according to a GOJ source, President Trump brought up the abduction issue during his first summit with Chairman Kim in June 2018 and referred to it twice at their second summit held in February this year.

Iranian foreign minister to visit Japan

Nikkei wrote that MOFA announced on Wednesday that Iran's Foreign Minister Zarif will visit Japan on May 16-17 for talks with Prime Minister Abe and Foreign Minister Kono. The paper wrote that Zarif is planning to discuss the future of the Iran nuclear deal and other issues, speculating that the prime minister will reiterate Japan's position of supporting the deal and urging Tehran to comply with it. The paper conjectured that Abe will urge Zarif to exercise self-restraint by stressing that it is necessary for Iran to play a constructive role in the stabilization of the Middle East. Asahi and Sankei ran similar reports.


Acting Defense Secretary Shanahan to visit Japan in early June

Nikkei wrote that the U.S. and Japanese governments are making arrangements for Acting Defense Secretary Shanahan to make his first trip to Japan since taking up his post in January. The paper conjectured that the acting secretary will confirm strengthened cooperation with Japan in new security dimensions such as outer space and cyberspace and in response to the DPRK. The paper speculated that the Pentagon official will probably visit South Korea and Japan after attending an Asian security dialogue to be held in Singapore from May 31 through June 2, adding that he will visit Tokyo around June 3 or 4 for talks with Defense Minister Iwaya and possibly with Prime Minister Abe. Yomiuri ran a similar report.

U.S. military allows Japanese guards at Sasebo Naval base to carry loaded handguns off base

Tokyo Shimbun led with a report saying that it has learned that Japanese security guards at the U.S. Naval base at Sasebo walked on a public road outside the base while carrying loaded handguns during the period from May 2 through 10. The paper wrote that although Japanese base employees are allowed to carry firearms on U.S. bases under the SOFA, they may have violated Japan's Swords and Firearms Control Law by carrying them off base.


U.S. media reports President Trump may delay decision on auto tariffs

Yomiuri wrote that CNBC reported on Wednesday that President Trump is expected to delay a decision on tariffs on imported cars and parts by up to 180 days. The paper wrote that a formal announcement on whether the U.S. will impose import duties on autos and auto parts due to national security concerns is expected on May 18.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team