Morning Alert   -   Tuesday, October 29, 2019
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Morning news

NHK led with a report on the damage inflicted by torrential rains in Chiba and Fukushima Prefectures last week. All commercial networks gave top coverage to the death of actress Kaoru Yachigusa at the age of 88.

Major front-page stories in national dailies included a GOJ policy of encouraging male civil servants to take at least a month of childcare leave, tax authorities' conclusion that former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn spent some $1.3 million of Nissan's money for his personal use during a three-year period ending in March 2014, and the devastation caused by recent typhoons and record rainfall in Chiba, Nagano, and other prefectures.


Suga comments on death of ISIS leader

Yomiuri and Sankei reported on press remarks made yesterday by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga regarding the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi during a U.S. military raid. The government spokesman was quoted as saying: "It is a major step toward peace and stability in the Middle East." However, he also voiced concern about the possible resurgence of terrorist attacks by ISIS operatives, underscoring that the war against extremism has not yet ended. Asked about President Trump's plan to bring U.S. troops home from Syria, Suga said the GOJ is closely watching developments.

Schism emerges between U.S. and Japan over China

Sankei's Washington-based columnist Komori took up a speech on China delivered by Vice President Pence last week, noting that the address showed once again that the Trump administration is determined to maintain a hard line toward Beijing. The reporter claimed that Washington's hawkish approach marks a sharp contrast to the Abe administration's policy of promoting dialogue with the communist regime. Komori referred to a recent policy paper published by the Brookings Institution warning that a rift between Tokyo and Washington over China policy could eventually undermine the overall bilateral security alliance. The columnist urged the Abe administration to readjust its China policy quickly in order to take a concerted approach with the Trump administration.

Top LDP leader cancels trip to China

All national dailies except Mainichi wrote that LDP Secretary General Nikai has cancelled his visit to China planned for early November owing to a "scheduling conflict" on the Chinese side, saying that he and his Komeito counterpart Saito were expected to pay a courtesy call on President Xi in Shanghai. The visit will reportedly be rescheduled.


Japanese, Omani defense chiefs hold teleconference

Yomiuri and Nikkei wrote that Defense Minister Kono spoke by phone with his Omani counterpart yesterday and told him about Japan's plan to deploy military assets to the region. As Japan is likely to operate MSDF ships or aircraft in the Gulf of Oman, the cabinet minister reportedly told the press afterward that Tokyo may ask the Middle East nation for assistance in carrying out the mission.

Kantei to take initiative in ensuring economic security

Nikkei published a prominent inside-page story on the Abe administration's plan to establish within the National Security Secretariat a new unit tasked with handling economic and trade issues, saying that the initiative is intended to tighten relevant regulations to enhance economic security. The taskforce will be comprised of some ten government officials specializing in energy and cybersecurity and is set to review existing rules, regulations, and standards in such areas as investment, telecommunications, and cyberspace with the goal of preventing the outflow of intellectual property. The Kantei is reportedly hoping that the unit will help enhance coordination with the United States. The NSC in countering China's aggressive pursuit of technological hegemony. The daily added that the GOJ will need to address the concerns held by local businesses that tougher regulations could hinder their operations.


South Korea accepts ruling in WTO suit over tariff on Japanese valves

Yomiuri reported from London that the WTO announced on Monday that the South Korean government is set to accept a ruling made last month by its conflict resolution panel in favor of Japan regarding Seoul's imposition of an anti-dumping tariff on Japanese pneumatic valves. However, the Moon administration has reportedly explained to the international trade body that it may take some time to remove the tariff. According to the article, the GOJ released a statement voicing regret at South Korea's intention not to comply with the WTO ruling immediately.

India holds key to completion of RCEP talks

Asahi reported on an RCEP trade ministerial conference and a summit meeting in Bangkok scheduled for Nov. 1 and Nov. 4, respectively, noting that Trade Minister Kajiyama and Prime Minister Abe are likely to attend the sessions in order to wrap up the multinational free trade negotiations. The daily said India holds the key to forging a rough consensus during the upcoming meetings, noting that New Delhi is likely to ease its hard line against lowering duties on imports, especially those from China. According to the article, a rift between India and China has been viewed as the major stumbling block to the successful conclusion of the 16-party trade liberalization talks. The paper added that Japan also needs to address issues of its own, such as what to do about tariffs on imports from South Korea. Trade Minister Kajiyama was quoted as saying: "The negotiations are in their final stage. I would like to engage in active discussions with member states to address outstanding issues so that I can exercise leadership in reaching a basic consensus by the end of this year."

Global watchdog begins review of Japanese practices to combat money laundering

Nikkei reported that the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) launched an investigation yesterday to check whether proper steps are in place in Japan to prevent money laundering. FATF inspectors are reportedly expected to interview officials from the Japanese government and several financial institutions in the next three weeks. The taskforce officials will scrutinize Japan's regulations on cryptocurrency since criminals often use virtual currencies to launder their illicit earnings.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team