Morning Alert   -   Thursday, June 6, 2019
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Morning news

NHK led with a report saying that today ruling and opposition parties will submit a resolution to the Diet urging Lower House member Hodaka Maruyama to resign over his remarks on going to war with Russia to take back the Northern Territories. TV Asahi, NTV, and TBS filed follow-up reports on Tuesday's fatal traffic accident in Fukuoka City. Fuji TV reported on comedian Ryota Yamazato and actress Yu Aoi's announcement of their marriage at a news conference yesterday.

Top stories in national dailies included a draft statement put together by antitrust watchdogs of the G7 nations calling for a crackdown on technology giants' oligopoly (Yomiuri), errors in the Defense Ministry's survey of candidate sites for the deployment of the Aegis Ashore defense system (Mainichi), a GOJ plan to support regional banks' realignment over the next ten years (Nikkei), and a plan by the Japan Fair Trade Commission to investigate convenience store operators' franchise contracts (Asahi).


DPRK criticizes U.S. for "turning away from implementing joint statement"

Wednesday evening's Nikkei wrote that ahead of the first anniversary of the first U.S.-DPRK summit in Singapore on June 12, 2018, a spokesperson for North Korea's foreign ministry issued a statement on Tuesday. The paper wrote that while the statement said Pyongyang is willing to abide by the U.S.-DPRK Joint Statement, it criticized the United States for "deliberately turning away from the implementation of the joint statement."

DPRK decides not to send officials to international conference in Mongolia

Asahi and Yomiuri wrote that the Mongolian foreign ministry told the press on Wednesday that it was informed by the DPRK on Tuesday that the nation would not send its officials to this year's annual international security dialogue on June 5-6 in Ulaanbaatar. The papers wrote that Japan has sent senior diplomats to the conference to seek meetings with DPRK officials to convey Prime Minister Abe's willingness to hold a summit meeting with DPRK leader Kim Jong Un without preconditions.

Japan, ROK remain apart over requisitioned workers, seafood import ban

Asahi, Yomiuri, and Sankei wrote that MOFA Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau Director General Kanasugi held talks with his South Korean counterpart in Tokyo on Wednesday, but the two officials remained apart over the issue of Korean requisitioned workers because the ROK diplomat did not accept Japan's request for the launch of an arbitration panel on the issue. According to the papers, Kanasugi renewed Japan's call on South Korea to lift its ban on Japanese seafood imports, while his ROK counterpart insisted that Japan should not single out South Korean seafood for more stringent inspection.

Senior Iranian diplomat comments on Abe's planned visit to Tehran

Yomiuri wrote that Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Araghchi told media outlets in Tehran on Monday that Iran looks forward to Prime Minister Abe's visit slated for later this month and hopes that it will help reduce Middle East tensions. However, concerning the need for dialogue with the United States, the Iranian diplomat stated that Washington must first change its policy toward Tehran and that Iran will consider the possibility of communication with the United States if it lifts its sanctions on Iran.


U.S., Japanese finance ministers to discuss trade issues, including currency clause

Wednesday evening's Nikkei wrote that the Department of the Treasury disclosed on Tuesday that Secretary Mnuchin will hold talks with Finance Minister Aso on the sidelines of the G20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors to be held in Fukuoka on June 8-9. According to the paper, a senior treasury official reportedly said that the talks will cover many subjects, including trade, and that the United States is eager to hold negotiations with Japan on such issues as a currency clause. Noting that Secretary Mnuchin is also scheduled to meet with People's Bank of China Governor Yi Gang, the paper speculated that trade will be a core subject of the United States' talks with Japan and China. The daily wrote that this will be the first time for the Secretary to hold talks with Aso since late April. The paper also wrote that although the United States and Japan are discussing a trade agreement on goods by focusing on autos and agricultural products, Japan is strongly opposed to the idea of introducing a currency clause out of concern that it would reduce the nation's discretion in currency policy. The paper conjectured that Washington is concerned that imports of Japanese vehicles could increase if the yen depreciates and that Secretary Mnuchin is seeking to introduce a currency clause that will limit currency devaluation. Thursday morning's Asahi ran a similar report.


Rubber sheet that dropped on Okinawa school came from U.S. military helicopter

Nikkei wrote briefly that Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga told reporters on Wednesday that the GOJ has been informed by the U.S. that the object that fell onto the premises of a middle school in Urasoe, Okinawa, was a piece of rubber tape that had been attached to a wing blade of a U.S. military helicopter. Suga added that the incident was very regrettable and the GOJ will call on the U.S. to thoroughly implement safety measures and prevent similar incidents from happening in the future. NHK, Fuji-TV, and TBS aired similar reports on Wednesday evening, saying the part was confirmed to be from a U.S. Marine helicopter based at MCAS Futenma.

USFJ orders military branches to comply with rules on Japanese guards carrying guns

Asahi wrote that in response to an incident in May in which Japanese security guards at the U.S. Naval Base in Sasebo walked along a public road outside the base while carrying loaded handguns, the USFJ informed the GOJ in mid-May that it has instructed the headquarters of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines in Japan to reconfirm the rules on carrying guns in order to strictly comply with U.S. military regulations and Japanese laws. The paper wrote that according to MOFA, the USFJ said Japanese guards are prohibited from carrying guns outside U.S. military facilities and that it has instructed the Sasebo base to rectify its procedures.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team