Morning Alert   -   Friday, May 31, 2019
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Morning news

NHK and TV Asahi led with follow-up reports on the mass stabbing incident in Kawasaki. NTV reported on the arrest in Tokyo yesterday of a man suspected of involvement in robbery at a pachinko parlor in Yokohama after a car chase with the police. TBS reported that Naomi Osaka has reached round three at the French Open. Fuji TV gave top coverage to a report that the South Korean team in an international U-18 soccer tournament in Chengdu, China, was stripped of its championship trophy yesterday because its players trampled on the trophy and committed other acts of disrespect.

Top stories in national dailies included remarks delivered by Prime Minister Abe at an international conference in Tokyo on Thursday in which he proposed establishing a framework of new rules for the free flow of data (Nikkei), the Health Ministry's plan to strengthen inspections of seafood imports from South Korea (Sankei), new measures to be taken by the GOJ to facilitate change of ownership of small businesses (Yomiuri), a GOJ plan to increase funding for domestic violence shelters (Mainichi), and the Osaka district court's ruling against the state over the allegation that the government temporarily withheld information about the land sale to Moritomo Gakuen (Asahi).


Japan, Russia at odds over Aegis Ashore, military buildup on Northern Territories

All national dailies reported on the Japan-Russia 2+2 meeting of foreign and defense ministers that was held in Tokyo on Thursday. The papers wrote that the differences between the two nations were not narrowed. Yomiuri wrote that the Russian side insisted that Japan's deployment of the U.S.-made missile defense system poses a threat to Russia's national security. However, the Japanese side argued that the deployment is only intended to increase Japan's defense capabilities and will not pose a threat to Russia. In response to Japan's concern over Russia's military buildup in the Northern Territories, Russia insisted that it is conducting military activities on islands that belong to Russia. Nikkei wrote that although Japan had hoped that its security cooperation with Russia would help build trust between the two nations in resolving the territorial dispute, Russia apparently tried to rattle the U.S.-Japan alliance.

The papers also wrote that Tokyo and Moscow agreed to closely work together for the denuclearization of the DPRK. However, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said at a post-meeting press conference that it is necessary to take a step-by-step approach to Pyongyang. Yomiuri speculated that Japan briefed Russia on Prime Minister Abe's plan to visit Iran in June.

Japan to strengthen inspections of South Korean seafood

All national dailies wrote that the Health Ministry announced on Thursday that it will strengthen inspections of flounder, three types of shellfish, and sea urchin imported from South Korea starting in June to prevent food poisoning. Sankei wrote that although Japan imports sea urchin from a total of ten countries, including the United States and China, the stepped-up measures essentially target South Korea because Japan imports most of its sea urchin from there. The papers speculated that the move is retaliation for South Korea's ban on fishery products from Fukushima and seven other prefectures introduced after the 2011 nuclear accident. Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga told a press briefing on Thursday that the step is being taken to protect the health of the Japanese people and is not a measure against South Korea.

Abe holds teleconference with Saudi Crown Prince

Sankei wrote that Prime Minister Abe spoke by phone with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman on Thursday. The paper speculated that the two agreed to work together closely to ensure peace and prosperity in the Middle East and discussed the situation in Iran.

Leaders of Japan, Turkey to meet after G20 summit

Yomiuri wrote that the governments of Japan and Turkey are making arrangements for Prime Minister Abe and President Erdogan to hold bilateral talks in Tokyo following the G20 summit in Osaka. The paper speculated that the two leaders will seek to conclude a basic agreement on a bilateral EPA at their summit following the working-level agreement they reached on the pact last year.


PM Abe says Japan will not make concessions on trade deal with U.S. beyond TPP terms

In a report on Thursday evening on a speech delivered by Prime Minister Abe at a Keidanren meeting earlier in the day, NHK pointed out that Abe said Japan will not provide better access to its agricultural market than it offers to the TPP members since the ongoing bilateral trade talks are based on the joint statement issued after the Japan-U.S. summit last September that set the TPP framework as the limit of Japan's concessions. He also reportedly assured the audience that as long as the trade talks are underway, the U.S. will not impose additional tariffs on Japanese auto exports. He also said that even though the negotiations will be tough, he is hopeful that a deal can be reached soon.

Abe discusses TPP with deputy prime minister of Singapore

Nikkei wrote that Prime Minister Abe held bilateral talks with Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat at the Kantei on Thursday, saying that the two sides agreed to work together to steadily implement and expand the TPP and discussed issues related to the DPRK.


Advisory panel to Okinawa governor on U.S. bases holds first meeting

Asahi and Sankei wrote that an advisory panel to Okinawa Governor Tamaki that will discuss issues related to U.S. base consolidation held its first meeting on Thursday. Asahi speculated that the establishment of the panel is intended to seek alternatives to the plan to relocate the Futenma functions to Henoko. Sankei noted that all five members of the panel, including George Washington University Associate Professor Mike Mochizuki, are skeptical of the Henoko project.


Japan to import Ebola virus to improve detection processes

All national dailies wrote that the Health Ministry has decided to import strains of Ebola and four other deadly viruses to improve Japan's detection processes for these viruses amid a rise in the number of foreign visitors ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The viruses to be imported are Ebola, Lassa, Crimean-Congo, Marburg, and South American hemorrhagic fever. The papers wrote that the pathogens will be kept at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, which is located in the city of Musashimurayama in western Tokyo, after gaining the basic agreement of local residents. According to the papers, the lab is currently the only facility in Japan with the maximum biosafety level of BSL-4.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team