Morning Alert   -   Wednesday, May 29, 2019
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Morning news

All TV networks led with follow-up reports on the mass stabbing incident in Kawasaki yesterday in which a girl and a Foreign Ministry official were killed and 17 others were injured.

Top stories in national dailies included the stabbing incident in Kawasaki (Asahi, Yomiuri, Sankei), a growing sense of uncertainty among Japanese manufacturers over the future of the Japanese economy (Nikkei), and a court ruling saying that the Eugenic Protection Law authorizing the sterilization of people with intellectual disabilities was unconstitutional (Mainichi).


President Trump, PM Abe stress strong U.S.-Japan alliance

All national dailies ran wrap-ups of President Trump's four-day visit to Japan.

The papers highlighted the visit on Tuesday by President Trump and Prime Minister Abe to the MSDF destroyer Kaga in Yokosuka, saying that the two leaders stressed in their remarks to 500 U.S. and Japanese sailors the strong alliance between the United States and Japan. The papers noted that this was the first time for a U.S. president to visit an MSDF ship.

Nikkei wrote that the President welcomed Japan's plans to procure F-35Bs and upgrade Izumo-class destroyers to de facto aircraft carriers. Yomiuri expressed the view that the U.S.-Japan alliance will be further strengthened because Izumo-class destroyers will carry state-of-the-art F-35s in the future. The paper wrote that through the President's four-day visit to Japan, the two leaders showed the world that they intend to further deepen the U.S.-Japan alliance, speculating that they had China's expanding military and economic influence in the Indo-Pacific in mind. The paper also wrote that the President and the prime minister confirmed their nations' cooperation in dealing with North Korea and Iran and deepened the friendship between their countries. Mainichi wrote that the visit to the Kaga was intended to demonstrate the strong bilateral security coordination from aboard a ship that symbolizes the strong U.S.-Japan alliance. The paper also wrote that the President stressed the importance of the 7th Fleet, which covers an area from the Western Pacific to the Indian Ocean, in the remarks he delivered on the USS Wasp. The paper speculated the United States and Japan had China in mind in demonstrating their strong alliance.

Asahi also reported on the President's visit to the two ships in Yokosuka, saying that in his remarks to their crews the President stressed the strong U.S.-Japan alliance. Sankei wrote that Abe invited the President to visit the MSDF ship to demonstrate the ironclad U.S.-Japan alliance to China, which poses a threat to the rules-based international order. The paper wrote that although such foreign leaders as British Prime Minister May and Philippine President Duterte have visited Izumo-class destroyers in the past, this was the first time for Prime Minister Abe to accompany a foreign leader on a visit to a vessel of this class.

On the economic front, Nikkei wrote that "sparks flew" over trade in the U.S.-Japan bilateral talks held on Monday at the Akasaka Palace because agriculture is a key issue for both President Trump, who is running for reelection in November 2020, and Prime Minister Abe, who will face an Upper House election this summer. The paper speculated that the President expressed frustration over trade talks with China during the talks, which ran past the scheduled one hour. The paper also wrote that although Japan had worried that President Trump would make requests regarding auto trade, he instead called for lower tariffs on beef and other agricultural products in the working lunch.

Asahi wrote that concerning President Trump's reference to a "trade agreement in August," Economic Revitalization Minister Motegi said at a press briefing on Tuesday that the President was probably expressing his hope to move the bilateral talks forward as quickly as possible and that August is not a deadline. The paper, quoting Foreign Minister Kono as saying yesterday that the trade talks will take place within the framework of the U.S. -Japan joint statement, wrote that the GOJ is busy "providing clarification' of the President's remark. Mainichi wrote that Motegi reiterated the position that Japan won't reduce tariffs on farm products below TPP levels.

Close ties with President Trump give PM Abe greater weight in diplomacy

Nikkei wrote that in the wake of President Trump's visit to Japan as a state guest, Prime Minister Abe will continue to be busy with diplomatic activities as he is meeting with five visiting foreign leaders, including Philippine President Duterte and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir, this week and is making arrangements to visit Iran in June. The paper wrote that there is the view in Japan that Abe's close bonds with President Trump boost his weight in diplomacy, quoting a MOFA source as saying that the prime minister's close ties with President Trump are a diplomatic asset for Japan.

Iran welcomes Abe's plan to visit Tehran

Asahi, Yomiuri, and Sankei wrote that Iran's foreign ministry spokesperson Mousavi told reporters on Tuesday that Iran is making final arrangements with the Japanese government for Prime Minister Abe to travel to Iran in June and that the visit will mark an important historical turning point in relations between Japan and Iran. The papers wrote that Tehran officially expressed its intention to welcome the Japanese leader. However, the spokesperson added that Iran has no intention at this point to hold talks with the United States.

Japanese, Russian foreign ministers to hold talks this week

Asahi wrote that Foreign Minister Kono told a regular press briefing on Tuesday that he will hold talks with his Russian counterpart Lavrov in Tokyo on Friday to discuss a peace treaty between their nations to lay the groundwork for the planned summit between Prime Minister Abe and President Putin in June. The paper wrote that Japan and Russia will also hold a 2+2 meeting of foreign and defense ministers on Thursday with the participation of Defense Minister Iwaya and his Russian counterpart Shoigu. Mainichi ran a similar

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team