Morning Alert   -   Wednesday, May 22, 2019
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Morning news

NHK led with a report saying British Prime Minister May will propose holding a second referendum on Brexit. TBS reported that former LDP Secretary General Ishiba said on a TV program yesterday that the likelihood of simultaneous Lower and Upper House elections being held this summer is 40%. NTV and TV Asahi gave top coverage to the heaviest rainfall so far this year in the Kanto and Tokai regions yesterday. Fuji TV reported on the arrest of a man in Aichi Prefecture for threatening his neighbors repeatedly even after being released from prison for the same offense.

Major front-page items in national papers included the GOJ's decision regarding a parade in central Tokyo on Oct. 22 to celebrate the Emperor's accession, data suggesting a narrowing disparity between the number of male and female applicants admitted to medical school this spring, decisions by a number of U.S. companies to stop doing business with Huawei following the Trump administration's imposition of sanctions on the Chinese tech giant, and a report on the alleged difficulties that Japanese enterprises are experiencing in responding to the punitive tariffs that the U.S. plans to impose on Chinese imports.


President Trump to watch sumo from ringside box seat

Asahi reported on the disclosure by several GOJ sources that President Trump will sit in a chair in a box seat when he watches sumo bouts at Ryogoku Kokugikan on Sunday. Spectators normally sit on the floor in box seats, but chairs will reportedly be set up for this occasion. According to the paper, Secret Service agents will be positioned around the President to protect him from floor cushions possibly being thrown by spectators, as they sometimes do when a grand champion loses in an upset.

Japan urges South Korea to reject comfort women lawsuit against GOJ

All papers wrote that the GOJ conveyed to the South Korean government yesterday a message on a suit filed with a Seoul district court in 2016 by former comfort women seeking the Japanese government to pay compensation. The GOJ reportedly said the lawsuit must be dismissed on the ground of state immunity, a key component of international law that gives sovereign states immunity from the jurisdiction of foreign courts.

In a related development, Prime Minister Abe reportedly held talks with South Korean Ambassador to Japan Nam at the Kantei on Tuesday and urged the Moon administration to take proper measures to resolve the requisitioned workers dispute. Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga separately met with the ROK envoy and asked that Seoul heed Japan's request for the launch of a three-member arbitration panel to iron out bilateral differences regarding the matter.

Mainichi wrote that Foreign Minister Kono will hold a meeting with his ROK counterpart Kang on the sidelines of an OECD ministerial conference in Paris tomorrow to discuss the history dispute.

Japan, Russia hold talks on Northern Territories

According to Asahi, Japanese diplomats met with their Russian counterparts in Moscow on Monday and Tuesday to discuss proposed economic activities in the Northern Territories, saying that despite the Abe administration's strong hope for achieving a quick agreement on this front, no concrete progress was made in the two-day meeting. With a bilateral summit between Prime Minister Abe and President Putin on the margins of the G20 confab in Osaka in mind, the Japanese side is hoping to build mutual confidence through economic activities on the disputed islands with the goal of concluding a peace treaty. Mainichi ran a similar story.

MOFA wants foreign press to say "Abe Shinzo" instead of "Shinzo Abe"

Nikkei and Asahi took up press remarks made on Tuesday by Foreign Minister Kono. He reportedly say the ministry plans to ask the foreign media to use Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's surname first when citing his name. Explaining that when reporting on South Korean President Moon and Chinese President Xi, the foreign press customarily uses the last name ahead of the first name, Kono stressed that the Japanese premier should be referred to as Abe Shinzo, not Shinzo Abe. The foreign minister reportedly voiced hope that foreign media outlets will start referring to the prime minister as Abe Shinzo this year or next year to coincide with the G20 summit and the Tokyo Olympics.


Japanese auto lobby rebuts U.S declaration that foreign vehicles pose security threat

Yomiuri, Sankei, and Nikkei reported that yesterday the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association issued a statement protesting President Trump's recent declaration that imported cars pose a national security threat. "We are dismayed to hear a message suggesting that our long-time contributions of investment and employment in the United States are not welcomed," said the lobbying group's chairman Toyoda. "Our business operations do not constitute a threat to national security." The statement reportedly underscored that Japanese automakers have cumulatively invested about $51 billion in manufacturing in the U.S. over the last several decades and that they have created over 93,000 manufacturing jobs at their plants and more than 1.6 million indirect jobs, such as at dealerships and suppliers.

Sankei also highlighted press remarks made by Trade Minister Seko on Tuesday. He reportedly stressed that Japanese auto imports do not pose a threat to the United States. "Japanese auto manufacturers play a key role in reinforcing the U.S. industrial base," the cabinet minister said. "They do not have an impact on U.S. defense capabilities."


Okinawa leader calls for trilateral dialogue with GOJ, USG

Tokyo Shimbun gave top play to an exclusive interview with Okinawa Governor Tamaki on Tuesday. He reportedly reiterated strong opposition to the FRF initiative off Camp Schwab. He was quoted as saying: "The central government is moving ahead with the construction operation without specifying the timeframe, construction method, or budget. It is inconceivable for a public works project to be carried out without informing the relevant local government." Tamaki called for the GOJ and the USG to set up a three-way consultation venue on Futenma relocation by saying: "Trilateral dialogue between Tokyo, Washington, and Okinawa would be the most realistic and speediest way to resolve problems related to MCAS Futenma."


Japanese man arrested for illuminating U.S. military plane with laser

Asahi wrote that the Tokyo police arrested a Japanese man in his sixties on Monday on the charge of forcible obstruction of business, explaining that the suspect allegedly illuminated with a green laser a U.S. military cargo aircraft that was conducting a training flight near Yokota AB in February. The drill was reportedly aborted following the incident. The police are reportedly looking into his possible involvement in three similar incidents that occurred in the vicinity of the installation earlier this year.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team