Morning Alert   -   Thursday, August 22, 2019
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Morning news

NHK led with a report saying Foreign Minister Kono and his South Korean counterpart Kang failed to find any middle ground on the requisitioned workers issue at their meeting in Beijing yesterday. NTV and Fuji TV reported that a door on a Tohoku Shinkansen traveling at top speed suddenly opened yesterday. TV Asahi and TBS also featured reporting on unstable weather yesterday, noting that thunderstorms occurred in many places.

Yomiuri, Mainichi, and Sankei gave top play to the Japan-ROK foreign ministerial. Nikkei led with a GOJ plan to draw up rules on the commercial use of drones, while Asahi gave top coverage to its finding that a large number of government workers at 46 municipalities in western Japan that were affected by flooding and mudslides last year worked excessive overtime.


Japan, ROK remain apart over requisitioned workers and export controls

All national dailies featured front-page reports on a meeting held between Foreign Minister Kono and his South Korean counterpart Kang on Wednesday in Beijing, saying that the two officials apparently failed to narrow differences over the issues of former Korean requisitioned workers and Japan's tightened controls on exports to South Korea. The papers wrote that at their 40-minute meeting, Kono renewed Japan's request for South Korea to rectify its violation of international law in dealing with the requisitioned worker issue, while Kang called on Tokyo to withdraw its tighter export controls. Yomiuri wrote that although attention was focused on whether South Korea would shift its stance on the requisitioned worker issue at the foreign ministerial because ROK President Moon had refrained from harshly criticizing Japan in his remarks on Aug. 15, Kang presented no specific steps toward resolving the dispute. However, the papers pointed out that the two officials agreed that Japanese and South Korean diplomats will continue communicating with each other to resolve the issue.

Concerning South Korea's earlier suggestion that it might withdraw from the GSOMIA with Japan, Kono told reporters after the meeting that he discussed the issue with Kang but declined to provide further details. Kang reportedly told Kono that a decision on whether to extend the intelligence-sharing pact with Japan is "under review."

Kono also expressed Japan's concern over anti-Japanese moves in South Korea, including boycotting Japanese products and cancelling people-to-people exchanges, and asked Kang to ensure the safety of Japanese nationals in the country.

In related stories, all national dailies wrote that the Japan Tourism Agency said on Wednesday that the number of South Korean visitors to Japan dropped to its lowest level in almost a year in July. While the estimated total number of foreign visitors in July rose by 5.6% from a year earlier to 2,991,200, an all-time high for any month, the number of South Korean tourists fell by 7.6% to 561,700, ranking second after China at 1,050,500, up 19.5%.

The papers also wrote that during a trilateral meeting held between the Japanese, Chinese, and South Korean foreign ministers ahead of the Japan-ROK foreign ministerial talks, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang reportedly urged his Japanese and ROK counterparts to seek to resolve their differences in a constructive manner. According to the papers, the ROK minister stated at the trilateral meeting that the "arbitrary" export controls should be terminated, but Kono responded by saying the bilateral dispute should not be discussed in a trilateral session with China.

Secretary Pompeo calls for participation in coalition of the willing in remarks at UN

Yomiuri wrote that Secretary of State Pompeo, in remarks he gave at the UN Security Council on Tuesday, stressed the threat posed by Iran and called for participation in the U.S.-led maritime security initiative to ensure safe passage through the Strait of Hormuz. The paper wrote that Chinese and Russian criticism of the U.S. initiative brought into sharp relief the differences between Washington, Beijing, and Moscow over the issue of Iran. Mainichi also reported on the Secretary's remarks by saying he welcomed the fact that the UK and Bahrain said they would join the coalition.


Top Marine comments on trilateral cooperation, Izumo-class "aircraft carriers"

NHK reported yesterday on Wednesday's press conference held by Marine Commandant Berger. He reportedly stressed "the importance of deepening trilateral cooperation among the U.S., Japan, and the ROK to deal with the long-term threat posed by China and the short-term threat posed by North Korea" even amid frigid relations between Japan and South Korea. "Since the three countries share the same perception of these threats," he added, "they need to maintain the highest level of training to be able to respond to them." With regard to the Japan-ROK GSOMIA, he reportedly said it is important that the two countries share military intelligence. Commenting on China's activities in the South China Sea and elsewhere, Berger pointed out that two-thirds of the Marines are stationed in the Indo-Pacific and that troops are generally deployed in critical locations, indicating that the U.S. intends to increase its involvement in the region to contend with China.

This morning's Asahi also reported on the press conference. The paper wrote that concerning the Izumo-class destroyers that will be converted to aircraft carriers, General Berger reportedly said that operations can be more flexible if there are ships that both U.S. and Japanese F-35s can land on and that the ships will be useful not only for landing and taking off, but also for refueling and preparing weapons.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team