Morning Alert   -   Tuesday, September 10, 2019
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Morning news

NHK broadcast a news flash saying that South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff announced that the DPRK fired two unidentified projectiles on an eastward trajectory from South Pyongan Province this morning. The network quoted a GOJ source as saying that the government has confirmed that the launches posed no direct threat to Japan's security because the projectiles did not land in Japan's territory or exclusive economic zone. All commercial networks reported on the damage caused by Typhoon Faxai.

All national papers except Sankei led with Nissan CEO Saikawa's decision to resign next week to take responsibility for receiving more equity-linked remuneration than he was entitled to.


DPRK ready to hold nuclear talks with U.S.

All national dailies except Sankei took up a statement released yesterday by the North Korean vice foreign minister, who reportedly said the Kim regime is prepared to engage in "comprehensive discussions" with the U.S. in late September. The dailies interpreted the official's remark to mean that Pyongyang may finally agree to resume negotiations on denuclearization. The DPRK diplomat reportedly indicated that the DPRK may choose to end denuclearization talks with Washington unless it presents a "counterproposal that accommodates North Korea," an apparent euphemism for immediate sanctions relief.

In a related development, Sankei focused on remarks made to ABC News on Sunday by Secretary of State Pompeo. He reportedly noted that the U.S. is hoping to resume denuclearization talks with the North "in the coming days or perhaps weeks." The top U.S. diplomat reportedly added that President Trump would be "very disappointed" if Chairman Kim didn't return to the negotiating table or conducted missile tests, which he said are "inconsistent with the agreements" forged by the two leaders previously.

Moon's anti-Japan policy to continue following appointment of new justice minister

All national papers reported on South Korean President Moon's appointment yesterday of Cho Kuk, a close aide of his, as justice minister. The papers wrote that since Cho is known to be critical of Japan, Seoul's hard line toward Tokyo is likely to continue. Yomiuri speculated that since the Moon administration's base takes a critical view of Japan, the South Korean leader probably will not ease his tough position against the Abe administration before the general election next year. The daily added that the ROK government is inclined to use the anticipated expiration of the bilateral GSOMIA defense intelligence-sharing pact in late November as a diplomatic card to press Japan to retract its decision to tighten controls on Korea-bound sensitive trade materials by capitalizing on the U.S.'s desire to maintain defense coordination between its two Asian allies.

Asked about the new ROK justice minister in a daily press conference yesterday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga reportedly said he would not comment on the internal affairs of a foreign country. According to Mainichi, Suga separately told TV-Asahi last night that South Korea is "wholly responsible" for the deterioration of bilateral relations.

High-ranking Japanese, Russian diplomats hold talks

All national dailies wrote that Deputy Foreign Minister Mori and his Russian counterpart Morgulov met in Tokyo on Monday and exchanged views on security issues of mutual interest, such as Japan's plan to deploy Aegis Ashore batteries, the possibility of the U.S. deploying intermediate-range ballistic missiles in Asia, and the Russian military's operations in the vicinity of the Northern Territories. The two officials also reportedly discussed other pending issues, such as "joint economic activities" on the contested islands in preparation for a bilateral summit between Prime Minister Abe and President Putin on the margins of the annual APEC leaders' meeting in Chile in November.

Japan, France to hold first dialogue on maritime affairs

Nikkei wrote that Japan and France plan to convene their first-ever "comprehensive marine dialogue" on Sept. 20, projecting that the participants are expected to discuss freedom of navigation, sustainable development of marine resources, and reducing plastic waste in the ocean. The two countries are reportedly set to enhance defense cooperation at sea to deter China's maritime advancement in the Pacific Ocean.


Abe likely to give cabinet posts to his confidants

All national papers published speculative pieces on Prime Minister Abe's plan to reshuffle his cabinet tomorrow, projecting that LDP Executive Acting Secretary General Hagiuda and Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Nishimura, both of whom are very close to the premier, will probably be given cabinet portfolios for the first time. Nishimura is likely to be tapped as minister in charge of economic revitalization. Taku Eto, who currently serves as special assistant to the prime minister, may be appointed agriculture minister. According to the papers and NHK, Abe also reportedly plans to replace Defense Minister Iwaya with Foreign Minister Kono, whose portfolio will probably be taken over by Economic Fiscal Policy Minister Motegi. Asahi explained that the prime minister has decided to retain Kono as a cabinet member to play up his administration's commitment to the "continuity" of diplomatic and security policies.

Opposition bloc buoyed by comfortable reelection of Iwate governor

Asahi, Sankei, and Yomiuri wrote that the opposition camp was emboldened by the commanding victory of Iwate Governor Tasso in Sunday's gubernatorial election. The Democratic Party of Japan, the Japanese Communist Party, the Social Democratic Party, and the Democratic Party for the People are growing increasingly confident of the prospects for their election cooperation since a candidate backed by them also won the Saitama gubernatorial race in August. Governor Tasso was easily reelected to a fourth term, defeating a candidate fielded by the ruling coalition by a wide margin. The articles added that the ruling and opposition blocs are expected to clash head on in the by-election for the vacant Upper House seat in Saitama in late October.


U.S., Japan exchange notes on funding for Marine relocation to Guam

Sankei and Mainichi wrote that Foreign Minister Kono and U.S. Embassy Chargé d'Affaires Young exchanged diplomatic notes yesterday concerning Japan's payment of some $193 million for financing military construction projects in Guam, including housing facilities for noncommissioned officers and a vehicle maintenance facility, as part of the planned transfer of Marines from Okinawa.


U.S, Japan to cooperate on "traffic control" in space

Nikkei front-paged an article saying that the U.S. and Japan are set to coordinate to launch a "space traffic management" (STM) system designed to head off accidents and incidents involving satellites. The Commerce Department will reportedly build an information network to pinpoint the location of commercial satellites in outer space and the Japanese side will develop technology for removing space debris. The two nations also plan to join hands with the UK, France, and other European partners to establish an effective STM mechanism.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team