Morning Alert   -   Wednesday, September 11, 2019
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Morning news

All national dailies and most broadcasters led with stories on Prime Minister Abe's plan to reshuffle his cabinet today, claiming that he has already decided on the lineup. Outlets conjectured that since the premier is planning to give cabinet posts to many of his close aides, he also intends to tap Shinjiro Koizumi as environment minister to deflect potential criticism that the new cabinet is only composed of his allies.


U.S. suggests allies cover base funding diverted for border wall construction

Yomiuri reported on remarks made to the press on Monday by Department of Defense spokesperson Hoffman. He reportedly said that if U.S. allies want to avoid a decrease in funding for U.S. military facilities in their countries on account of the diversion of the defense budget to pay for the construction of a wall along the southern border, they might want to consider increasing spending on those facilities. The paper noted that the department has decided to reallocate about $1.8 billion from U.S. military bases outside the country and is planning to divert some $400 million from projects related to Yokota AB, Kadena AB, and other U.S. facilities in Japan. The paper wrote that the Pentagon spokesperson said Defense Secretary Esper conveyed the Trump administration's view that U.S. allies should contribute more during his visit to Europe early this month.

In a related development, Nikkei and Sankei quoted Defense Minister Iwaya as commenting on Tuesday on an earlier press report that the planned relocation of Okinawa Marines to Guam may be delayed due to the diversion of defense funding for the border wall construction. Iwaya reportedly said that Japan has been told by the U.S. side that the budget diversion will not affect the planned relocation of the Marines.

Okinawa governor to visit U.S. to seek relocation of Futenma base outside Japan

Asahi ran an exclusive interview with Okinawa Governor Tamaki in Osaka on Monday. Tamaki stated during the interview that he is planning to visit the United States in October or later to stress that the Futenma base's relocation to Henoko is unjust and urge the United States to move the base functions to Guam or another location outside Japan. Tamaki, who visited Guam last month, said that although the GOJ has been insisting that Henoko is the only option, the Guam governor welcomes the relocation of bases to the island in the hope they will bring jobs and boost the local economy.


U.S., Japanese officials discuss DPRK

Yomiuri, Mainichi, and Nikkei wrote that Special Representative for North Korea Biegun and MOFA Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau Director-General Takizaki spoke by phone on Tuesday. The papers speculated that the two officials discussed North Korea and confirmed continued bilateral coordination between the United States and Japan and trilateral cooperation with South Korea.


WTO rules against South Korea's antidumping duties on Japanese valves

All national dailies wrote that the WTO upheld on Tuesday its earlier ruling that South Korea's anti-dumping duties on Japanese-made industrial valves violate WTO rules and urged South Korea to take corrective action. According to the papers, South Korea imposed anti-dumping duties on Japanese-made industrial valves in 2015 and Japan launched a complaint with the WTO in 2016. The dispute settlement panel in 2018 broadly agreed with Japan's argument that there is no causal link between imports of Japanese products and harm to South Korea's industry, but differed on points, prompting Japan to file an appeal based on the view that the panel failed to address certain issues.

Nikkei wrote that Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry issued a statement saying that Japan calls on South Korea to promptly correct its action to avoid Japanese firms from continuing to suffer from unfair measures. The paper speculated that the latest WTO ruling could become a fresh source of conflict between Tokyo and Seoul.


Abe to reshuffle cabinet today

All national dailies led with the anticipated new lineup of Prime Minister Abe's new cabinet, which will be officially announced today. The papers wrote that Abe has decided to appoint Shinjiro Koizumi to a ministerial post for the first time. With most of the current cabinet members set to be replaced, the makeup of Abe's new cabinet will likely include Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasutoshi Nishimura as economic revitalization minister and Isshu Sugawara as trade minister. Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Katsuyuki Kawai, will probably become justice minister; Koichi Hagiuda, LDP Deputy Secretary General, is expected to serve as education minister; Katsunobu Kato, currently Chairman of the LDP General Council, is likely to be reinstalled as health minister; and Taku Eto will probably be tapped as farm minister.

Among other key ministerial posts, Foreign Minister Kono is expected to become defense minister, while Economic Revitalization Minister Motegi will likely to be appointed as foreign minister. Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga and Finance Minister Taro Aso, who doubles as deputy prime minister, are the only cabinet members set to retain their posts.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team