Morning Alert   -   Friday, June 7, 2019
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Morning news

TBS led with a report on a censure resolution passed unanimously at the Diet yesterday against Lower House member Maruyama over his remark on going to war against Russia to take back the Northern Territories. NHK reported that residents in parts of Hiroshima City have been told to evacuate due to torrential rains. TV Asahi's top story was about a traffic accident involving an 87-year-old driver in Nagoya yesterday. NTV reported that a number of elementary school students in Tokyo fell ill after eating their school lunch yesterday, possibly due to loquat allergy. Fuji TV reported that a popular comedian has been fired by his agency for performing at parties of people involved in telephone fraud.

Top stories in national dailies included Fiat Chrysler's withdrawal of its merger offer to Renault (Asahi); a GOJ plan to propose to the G20 meeting of energy and environment ministers to be held in Karuizawa on June 15-16 a framework for gathering data on plastic waste (Mainichi); Toyota's plan to partner with China's CATL, the world's largest automotive battery maker (Nikkei); a Japan Fair Trade Commission survey of about 30,000 manufacturers that found 730 incidents in which major firms made improper requests to subcontractors over intellectual property (Yomiuri); and accounts by several informed sources that the U.S. military has detained in northern Iraq a Bangladesh-born former associate professor at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto who is believed to have gone to the Middle East to join the Islamic State and is reportedly suspected of involvement in the 2016 terror attack in Dhaka (Sankei).


Abe to visit Iran from June 12

All national dailies wrote that Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Nishimura officially notified the Diet on Thursday that Prime Minister Abe will visit Iran on June 12-14 by announcing the plan at an executive meeting of the Lower House Steering Committee. Yomiuri quoted Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga as telling the press on Thursday that it is critically important to urge the Iranian leadership to ease the tensions, abide by the nuclear deal, and play a constructive role in ensuring regional stability.

Asahi speculated that Abe will hold talks with President Rouhani and Supreme Leader Khamenei during his trip to Tehran to urge the Iranian leaders to make efforts to ease tensions in the region and hold dialogue with the United States. The paper wrote that although Iranian officials are pinning hopes on Japan's role as mediator because Abe's close ties with President Trump have been reported extensively by the media in Iran, attention will be focused on whether the premier will be able to help resolve the differences between Washington and Tehran over the nuclear deal and sanctions. Yomiuri projected that Abe will urge the Iranian leaders to hold direct talks with the United States.

Iranian envoy to Japan comments on Abe's planned trip to Tehran

Mainichi ran a one-on-one interview with Iranian Ambassador to Japan Rahmani on Thursday. While saying that Iran welcomes Japan's efforts to ease Middle East tensions as a neutral and fair mediator, Rahmani reportedly criticized the United States' sanctions on Iran as "economic terrorism" that targets the lives and health of the Iranian people.

Putin comments on peace treaty talks with Japan

Asahi, Sankei, and Nikkei wrote that Russian President Putin commented on Russia's peace treaty talks with Japan during an interview with a group of Russian and other wire services on Thursday. Asahi wrote that the Russian leader cited the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty as one of the factors making it difficult for Russia to conclude a peace treaty with Japan. According to the paper, Putin said from the standpoint of national security the construction of a base in an area of concern to Russia would be cause for worry. Sankei quoted Putin as saying that although Russia is hoping to conclude a peace treaty with Japan, military cooperation between the United States and Japan is making it difficult. The paper wrote that according to reports by Interfax and other outlets, Putin cited Japan's plan to deploy the Aegis Ashore system as an issue of concern. The paper added that the GOJ is reacting calmly to Putin's remarks.

In a related development, NTV reported that Dmitry Birichevsky, minister counselor of the Russian Embassy in Tokyo, stated during a NTV program last night that before the two countries can delineate their national boundaries, Japan needs to recognize the results of World War II and Russia needs a guarantee that the U.S.-Japan alliance will "never" pose a threat to Russia. Birichevsky further asserted that although Prime Minister Abe has stated that he and Putin agreed that they are determined to put an end to the territorial issue with their own hands, he has "never heard" of such an agreement.


Iwaya apologizes for Aegis Ashore survey errors, but says deployment plan unchanged

Yomiuri and Nikkei wrote that Defense Minister Iwaya acknowledged at a Lower House National Security Committee session on Thursday that there were errors in the survey documents on the planned deployment of the Aegis Ashore system in Akita and apologized for the errors. However, the minister also said that the GOJ has not changed its plan to deploy the system in Akita.

In a related development, NHK reported that Akita Mayor Hozumi told the city assembly yesterday that the city is asking the government to reexamine the data and further explain how the deployment site in the city was chosen since the decision was based on faulty topographical data.


Motegi to visit U.S. to hold talks with USTR Lighthizer

Nikkei wrote that Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Nishimura told executive members of the Lower House Steering Committee on Thursday that Economic Revitalization Minister Motegi will visit the United States on June 13-15 for trade talks with USTR Lighthizer.

Japan to explain at G20 summit plan to raise consumption tax

Asahi wrote that concerning the Abe administration's plan to raise the consumption tax rate to 10% in October, Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga told the press on Thursday that the government will take sufficient measures to prevent the tax hike from having an impact on the economy and explain this policy at the G20 summit and other international venues. The paper argued that the GOJ will make a de facto international commitment to the tax hike by explaining it at the G20 summit.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team