Morning Alert   -   Friday, October 11, 2019
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Morning news

All TV networks and Sankei led with reports on Typhoon Hagibis, which is expected to hit the Kanto region over the weekend. JR East and private railway companies in the Tokyo metropolitan area have announced that they might suspend some train services on Saturday and Sunday due to the powerful typhoon. All Nippon Airways has canceled all of its domestic flights to and from Haneda Airport and Narita Airport on Saturday, and Japan Airlines has cancelled almost all of its domestic flights to and from these airports on Saturday.

Other top stories in national dailies included the Turkish military's launch of ground operations in northern Syria (Mainichi); a plan by Seven & i Holdings, the operator of the Seven-Eleven convenience store chain, to close money-losing outlets (Asahi, Yomiuri); and major utilities' difficulties in utilizing renewable energy due to their insufficient power grid capacity (Nikkei).


Opposition lawmaker criticizes new U.S.-Japan trade pacts for "violating WTO rules"

Asahi wrote that at a Lower House Budget Committee session on Thursday, Democratic Party for the People President Tamaki criticized Japan's new trade agreements with the United States for "violating WTO rules." Tamaki insisted that the GOJ's explanation that the level of U.S. tariff reduction under the deal is 92%, which satisfies the WTO benchmark of 90%, is deceptive because tariff cuts for autos and auto parts are included in the calculation of the liberalization rate despite the fact that the United States has not yet made a firm commitment to eliminate its tariffs on Japanese autos. Foreign Minister Motegi dismissed the criticism by saying that the GOJ's explanation is correct because the deal is based on the assumption that the tariff cuts will be implemented.

LDP postpones approval of bill to revise foreign exchange law

Nikkei wrote that at a policy meeting on Thursday the ruling LDP postponed the approval of a GOJ-draft bill to revise the Foreign Exchange Law. The revision is aimed at tightening restrictions on foreign investment in Japanese firms that are involved in nuclear power generation or national security. Some of the participants insisted that it is difficult to determine whether the revision is appropriate and called for the Ministry of Finance to provide further explanation. The GOJ is seeking to enact the bill during the current Diet session.


ROK prime minister to attend enthronement ceremony

Asahi wrote that the Abe administration has disclosed that South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon will likely attend the imperial enthronement ceremony to be held on Oct. 22 and President Moon has decided not to visit Japan for the event. The paper wrote that the governments of Japan and South Korea are making arrangements for Lee to hold bilateral talks with Abe during his stay in Tokyo. The daily noted that attention had been focused on who will represent South Korea at the enthronement ceremony amid the deterioration in relations between Tokyo and Seoul over such issues as compensation for former Korean requisitioned workers, Japan's tightened export controls on South Korea-bound semiconductor-related materials, and the ROK's decision to terminate its GSOMIA defense intelligence sharing pact with Japan. Yomiuri ran a similar report.

DPRK displeased with European statement condemning SLBM launch

Yomiuri wrote from Seoul that North Korea's state-run Korean Central News Agency carried a statement by a Foreign Ministry spokesperson saying that there is a limit to North Korea's patience and self-restraint. The statement was issued in response to a statement released by six European nations condemning Pyongyang's recent launch of an SLBM following a closed-door session of the UN Security Council on Tuesday. The paper speculated that the North Korean statement was intended to win concessions from the United States in their denuclearization talks by hinting at the possibility of resuming nuclear and ICBM testing.


Japan to use digital chart to ascertain foreign vessels' positions in EEZ

Yomiuri front-paged a report saying the GOJ has decided to develop a new system including a digital chart to quickly determine the positions and activities of foreign vessels in and near Japan's exclusive economic zone. According to the paper, the new system is aimed at improving Japan's ability to respond swiftly to illegal fishing in its EEZ.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team