Morning Alert   -   Friday, October 18, 2019
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Morning news

All TV networks other than TV Asahi and most national papers gave top coverage to the damage caused by Typhoon Hagibis. TV Asahi led with a report on International Olympic Committee President Bach's announcement that the organizing committee and local organizers have decided to hold the marathon and race walking events for the 2020 Olympics in Sapporo in order to avoid Tokyo's extreme heat.

Other front-page items in the papers included the Brexit agreement reached between the UK government and the EU, a GOJ plan to reschedule the imperial enthronement parade from Oct. 22 to Nov. 10, and the Education Ministry's release of data on bullying at school.


ROK officials positive on resolving disputes with Japan

Asahi front-paged an interview with South Korean Premier Lee, who plans to visit Tokyo next week to attend the imperial enthronement ceremony and is likely to hold talks with Prime Minister Abe on Thursday. Lee reportedly said he might deliver a letter from President Moon to PM Abe. According to Lee, President Moon is keenly interested in achieving a breakthrough in the stalled bilateral relations. "President Moon wishes to resolve the outstanding issues during his term of office even if finding a solution to them at this juncture may be difficult," said Lee. "He is deeply worried about the status of bilateral ties"." The daily speculated that Lee probably made these remarks in coordination with the Blue House, adding that his message should be taken as coming from the Moon administration.

According to Yomiuri, PM Abe commented at the Diet yesterday on Premier Lee's planned visit to Japan by saying: "We are aiming to seize an opportunity to put the bilateral relations back on track." However, an unnamed senior MOFA official cited by the paper said the meeting between the two prime ministers will probably "not be substantive" given that it will be brief.

Nikkei published an interview with ROK Ambassador to Japan Nam Gwan-pyo, who reportedly said Seoul is willing to hold dialogue with Japan "without restrictions" to resolve the dispute over requisitioned workers. While saying, "We will put all the options on the table and study their possibilities," the envoy suggested that the ROK government may play a part in offering compensation to the victims in partnership with local and Japanese firms involved. As for the GSOMIA, the ambassador reportedly noted that both sides recognize its importance. However, he underscored that Seoul has no choice but to discontinue the accord unless Tokyo stops imposing tougher restrictions on Korea-bound exports of strategic materials.

Court deliberations on comfort women suit to start next month in Seoul

Asahi wrote briefly that a Seoul district court will begin deliberations on Nov. 13 on litigation filed by former comfort women seeking compensation from the Japanese government. The GOJ reportedly has no plans to attend the court sessions.

China, ROK lodge protests over cabinet minister's Yasukuni visit

Yomiuri and Nikkei reported that the Chinese and the ROK governments both filed protests with the GOJ over Minister for Okinawa Affairs Eto's visit to Yasukuni Shrine yesterday, saying that his homage to the Shinto memorial reflects the "wrong attitude" toward wartime history. They said Japanese political leaders should be "humble" when dealing with history issues.

G20 parliamentary leaders' summit to be held in Tokyo next month

Mainichi wrote that a G20 Parliamentary Speakers' Summit will be held in Tokyo on Nov. 4, adding that ROK National Assembly Speaker Moon, whose demand that Emperor Akihito apologize over the comfort women issue provoked a backlash in Japan, will attend the event.


Debate underway at parliament over U.S.-Japan trade deal

Yomiuri wrote that the opposition bloc is stepping up its criticism of GOJ-sponsored legislation to approve the new U.S-Japan trade agreements on the grounds that the elimination of U.S. import duties on Japanese autos and auto parts was not specified in the agreement. The opposition camp is reportedly displeased that the ruling coalition has not designated the bill as "important and comprehensive legislation," which would require the prime minister to participate in the relevant Diet committee deliberations. The opposition parties are determined to block the administration's plan to obtain parliamentary approval during the current Diet session.


Okinawa leader meets with U.S. politicians

Sankei wrote very briefly from Washington that Okinawa Governor Tamaki held talks with three members of Congress on Wednesday and called for a review of the ongoing FRF construction off Camp Schwab by raising such issues as the soft seabed in the vicinity. He told the press afterward that the sessions were "meaningful," and said that the three U.S. lawmakers now have a deeper understanding on the subject.


Japan to take part in U.S. lunar exploration project

All national dailies except Asahi reported that a GOJ blue-ribbon commission on Thursday approved a basic space policy specifying Japan's commitment to cooperating with NASA's Artemis moon landing program. The recommendation will formally be accepted today by the GOJ's Space Development Strategy Headquarters headed by Prime Minister Abe. According to the articles, Japan will initially make technical and other contributions to the Lunar Gateway initiative, with the ultimate aim of sending Japanese astronauts to the Moon along with those from the United States and other countries.


Enthronement parade to be held on Nov. 10

All national dailies front-paged a GOJ plan to reschedule the imperial enthronement parade from Oct. 22 to Nov. 10 out of consideration for the victims of Typhoon Hagibis. According to Yomiuri, the postponement is "in line" with the wishes of Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako, who were reportedly deeply saddened by the large number of victims and the scope of damage. The dailies added the enthronement ceremony and banquet will take place on Oct. 22 as planned since a last-minute cancellation would cause great inconvenience to the foreign dignitaries scheduled to attend.

Olympic marathon to be moved to Sapporo

All national dailies reported that the Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee (TOOC) will apparently endorse the International Olympic Committee's plan to move the marathon and race walking events from Tokyo to Sapporo. TOOC Chairman Mori was quoted as telling the press yesterday: "It's unavoidable as a measure to avoid the heat. The IOC and the International Association of Athletics Federations are in favor of it. We have no choice but to accept it." According to the papers, IOC President Thomas Bach decided to move the events following the recent IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha where many athletes dropped out of the marathon because of the scorching heat.

Tokyo Governor Koike was reportedly unhappy about the unexpected announcement on the relocation and quipped to the press: "Why not organize the events in the Northern Territories if they need to be held somewhere cool?"

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team