Morning Alert   -   Thursday, August 15, 2019
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Morning news

All TV networks except NTV aired reports on the areas affected by powerful Typhoon Krosa, which has brought strong winds, torrential rains, and high waves, and caused major disruptions to public transportation. NTV aired a video provided by a viewer showing a JR train driver dozing off while operating a train in Chiba last month.

Major front-page stories in national dailies included a proposed merger between the nation's two major drugstore operators, the Education Ministry's plan to install by FY2022 ultra-high-speed internet networks in all elementary, middle, and high schools across the country, and a GOJ policy of helping citizens in their mid-30s and 40s secure stable employment as many of them had difficulty finding jobs after the burst of economic bubble in the early 2000s.


Japanese, ROK vice foreign ministers may meet tomorrow

Asahi claimed that arrangements are being made for the vice foreign ministers of Japan and South Korea to meet informally in Manila tomorrow, projecting that the two diplomats may discuss the ongoing trade and history disputes and explore the possibility of convening a session between Foreign Minister Kono and his ROK counterpart Kang in Beijing in late August.

The daily added, however, that whether the vice-ministerial talks take place will depend on the content of a speech that South Korean President Moon is expected to deliver today to commemorate the 74th anniversary of the liberation of the Korean Peninsula from Japan's colonial rule.

On a related note, all national papers reported that the ROK leader apparently chose not to criticize Japan in a Facebook message he posted yesterday for a ceremony to commemorate the government-designated "Comfort Women Day." "We will share with and distribute to the international community a message on peace and women's human rights," wrote Moon, who chose not to attend the event this year. "We will do our best to restore the dignity and honor of the victims." Asahi speculated that he avoided using tough rhetoric against Japan in a bid to pursue a "diplomatic solution" to the bilateral friction.

Japan to appoint new envoy for South Korea

Sankei said the GOJ has decided to replace Ambassador to South Korea Nagamine with Japan's G20 sherpa, Ambassador Tomoita, noting that Nagamine is expected to step down shortly after almost a three-year stint in Seoul. Tomita was reportedly based in the ROK capital as a minister counselor almost 15 years ago before assuming such portfolios as the director general of the North American Affairs Bureau and Ambassador to Israel. Mainichi ran a similar story, adding that the GOJ has already requested the ROK grant its agrément to Tomoita's appointment.

Government to permit DPRK officials to visit Japan for Olympics coordination

Sankei reported that the Abe administration has decided to allow three senior North Korean officials to travel to Tokyo later this month despite the ongoing ban on visits by DPRK representatives because they plan to attend meetings related to the Tokyo Olympics. The GOJ has reportedly decided to exempt the three sports officials from the ban given that the Olympic Charter prohibits discrimination on the basis of nationality. In addition to participating in various Olympics-related meetings, the three visitors are also expected to hold talks with senior officials of the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon).

G7 to voice support for Japanese initiative on African development

Yomiuri wrote that at their annual summit in France in late August the G7 leaders will likely issue a communique expressing support for the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), a decades-long Japanese initiative to assist economic development on the continent. The G7 partners reportedly hope to push back against China's "Belt and Road" program by underscoring their commitment to supporting African development in a "transparent" manner.

Meanwhile, Sankei wrote that in the upcoming TICAD confab to be held in Yokohama in late August, Prime Minister Abe is set to underscore Japan's efforts to support human resources development and promote private investment so that African countries can eventually become economically self-sustainable. Instead of focusing on government-led official development aid (ODA) and other economic support programs, the GOJ is reportedly set to place priority on human resources development to counter China's "debt-trap" economic assistance initiatives in Africa and elsewhere.

Russia to conduct underwater survey near Etrorofu

According to Yomiuri and Sankei, the Russian government has informed the GOJ of a plan to carry out an underwater survey using "deep-sea equipment" in the vicinity of Etrorofu Island this week. While the nature of the planned survey is unknown, the GOJ reportedly lodged a protest by saying that it runs counter to Japan's position on the Northern Territories.


More companies setting up shop in Texas

Nikkei published a prominent article on a number of U.S. and Japanese companies relocating their offices and factories from California to Texas, highlighting Toyota's decision to set up its North American headquarters in a Dallas suburb. Toyota's move created almost 6,000 jobs there. The daily said the Japanese auto giant found Texas to be an ideal location not just because of the incentives offered by the state but also because of its central location, affordable housing, and extensive highway network. The article explained that doing business in the Lone Star State is more lucrative than in California, where housing rents have skyrocketed and traffic is severe. As a number of American high-tech giants and emerging IT firms are now based in Austin, Dallas, and Houston, the daily projected that more Japanese enterprises will find Texas preferable to Silicon Valley and California, which it claimed is no longer a place where the middle class can achieve the "American Dream."

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team