Morning Alert   -   Friday, September 20, 2019
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Morning news

All national dailies other than Nikkei gave top play to reports on a ruling by the Tokyo District Court on Thursday that three former executives of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings are not guilty of professional negligence resulting in death by failing to prevent the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in 2011. Nikkei led with a report on the Federal Reserve's decision to cut interest rates. All broadcasters led with reports on the arrest yesterday of a man on suspicion of murdering his nine-year-old stepson.


Japan to set low-tariff quota for U.S. beef imports

Nikkei wrote that the GOJ is planning to establish a low-import tariff quota for American beef of about 240,000 tons, which is 90% of the amount U.S. beef Japan currently imports, as part of its trade negotiations with the United States. The paper speculated that Japan will also set a safeguard to prevent a surge in imports to mitigate the impact on domestic producers. The paper wrote that since Japan has already set a low-tariff quota of 600,000 tons for beef imports from the TPP nations, the quota to be granted to the United States will bring the total amount of beef that can enter Japan at low tariffs to 840,000 tons. The paper wrote that Japan is hoping to renegotiate with the TPP member states to reduce its low-tariff quota for their beef products.

Asahi ran a similar story, adding that although the GOJ is planning to renegotiate with the TPP member states to reduce their agreed-upon quota of 600,000 tons for beef to be exported to Japan at a low-tariff rate, the arrangement with the United States could deal a heavy blow to Japanese cattle farmers.


Japan, ROK unlikely to hold summit in New York

Yomiuri wrote that the GOJ has decided to forgo arranging a summit meeting between Prime Minister Abe and ROK President Moon on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. The paper speculated that Tokyo made the decision based on the judgment that it would not be appropriate to hold a summit meeting with South Korea when the ROK government is taking a hardline stance on the issue of compensation for former Korean requisitioned workers. However, the GOJ plans to continue communicating with the ROK government through opportunities such as a meeting between Foreign Minister Motegi and his ROK counterpart Kang in New York.

Japanese, New Zealand leaders discuss TPP, Indo-Pacific

Sankei wrote that Prime Minister Abe held talks with visiting New Zealand Prime Minister Ardern at the Kantei on Thursday. The paper wrote that the two leaders agreed to take the initiative in promoting the steady implementation of the TPP agreement. According to the paper, the two leaders issued a joint statement expressing concern over the current situation in the South China Sea. Yomiuri also reported on the meeting between Abe and Ardern, saying that the two leaders agreed to step up their cooperation in achieving a "free and open Indo-Pacific."

DPRK official comments on Abe's readiness to meet with Kim Jong Un "unconditionally"

Sankei wrote that Shingo Kanemaru, a son of the late LDP heavyweight Shin Kanemaru who worked to improve ties between Tokyo and Pyongyang in the 1990s, spoke to reporters at Beijing Airport on his way home from Pyongyang on Thursday. Kanemaru said that North Korean Ambassador for normalizing ties with Japan Song Il Ho told him in Pyongyang on Wednesday that he doubted the sincerity of Prime Minister Abe's statement that he is ready to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un without preconditions. Song reportedly said that Abe is contradicting himself because he has also been expressing his intention to discuss abductions, nuclear, and missile issues.

NHK reported yesterday evening that Kanemaru also told reporters in Beijing yesterday that Song said that Japan needs to settle historical issues by offering an apology and compensation. Song reportedly also said that the DPRK government is not in contact with Japan on the abduction issue. NHK said this indicates North Korea still maintains that the issue has already been resolved. TV Asahi quoted Song as saying that North Korea is not at a stage where it can say whether it will agree to hold a Japan-DPRK summit.

Kyodo News also reported that according to the Kanemaru-led Japanese delegation, there has been no communication between the two governments since May when Abe began calling for a summit. Kyodo also wrote that Kanemaru told reporters Song indicated that a summit between Abe and Kim is unlikely to take place soon. Song was quoted as saying that unless the decision to exclude kindergartens run by pro-Pyongyang Korean schools from Japan's free education system is withdrawn, it will be difficult for Japan and North Korea to improve their bilateral relations. In a separate report yesterday, NTV quoted Song as criticizing Japan's exclusion of high schools for North Korean students, as well as child care facilities and kindergartens, from its free education system. TBS broadcast a similar report in which Song was quoted as saying that unless the issue of exclusion is addressed, bilateral relations will not move forward "even one millimeter."

Abe to stress cooperation with EU during trip to Europe

Asahi wrote that Prime Minister Abe is planning to stress the importance of cooperation with the EU during his planned trip to Europe later this month. The paper wrote that Abe will deliver a speech in Brussels on Sept. 27 on cooperation between Asia and Europe and outline plans to strengthen cooperation with European nations, with whom Japan shares such basic values as democracy, the rule of law, and human rights, through the strategic partnership agreement forged by the two parties last year.

FM Motegi confirms cooperation with ASEAN

Yomiuri wrote that Foreign Minister Motegi held talks with ASEAN Secretary General Lim Jock Hoy in Tokyo on Thursday. The paper wrote that the two officials agreed that Japan and ASEAN will strengthen their cooperation in achieving a "free and open Indo-Pacific."

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team