Morning Alert   -   Tuesday, December 3, 2019
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Morning news

NHK led with a warning for severe snowstorms in northern Japan. Commercial broadcasters' top stories included the death of an elementary school child in Shimane Prefecture apparently due to neglect, the arrest of a murder suspect in Tokyo, Prime Minister Abe's remarks at the Diet yesterday on the controversy over the publicly financed cherry blossom viewing event, and video footage of a traffic accident in Osaka.

Top stories in national dailies included China's large stockpile of grain imports (Asahi), Chinese retaliation for the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act (Sankei), the expanding use of artificial intelligence at workplaces and residences (Nikkei), the Cabinet Office's announcement that it updated its document data preservation system in January (Mainichi), and survey results showing that 580 breast and ovary removal surgeries had been performed to reduce cancer risk at 57 hospitals as of the end of fiscal 2018 (Yomiuri).


GOJ seeks approval for SDF dispatch to Middle East by year-end

Asahi wrote that the GOJ has informed several key members of the ruling coalition of its plan to approve at a cabinet meeting by the end of the year the dispatch of SDF assets to the Middle East. The paper speculated that the GOJ is hoping to send an MSDF warship and a P-3C patrol plane in January or later. The paper conjectured that the GOJ's efforts to approve the SDF dispatch by year's end are intended to demonstrate to the United States Japan's cooperative stance on maritime security efforts in the region.

Japan pledges support for ASEAN

Yomiuri, Mainichi, and Nikkei wrote that Foreign Minister Motegi said on Monday Japan will contribute $3 billion in investment and loans to infrastructure development in ASEAN nations from 2020 to 2022. He made the announcement at a symposium organized by the Japan Institute of International Affairs in Tokyo on Monday. Motegi was quoted as saying the investment plan demonstrates Japan's policy of promoting free and fair economic development by offering new economic options to every nation in the region. Mainichi speculated the investment plan is intended to strengthen Japan's cooperation with ASEAN under the U.S.- advocated vision of a "free and open Indo-Pacific" in view of China's "One Belt, One Road" initiative.

Yomiuri wrote Prime Minister Abe also made remarks at the event, saying Japan will exercise leadership in achieving a "free and open Indo-Pacific" by working with all nations sharing the concept.

Sankei also reported on Motegi's remarks, adding that following a three-day visit to India over the weekend, the foreign minister will ramp up his diplomatic activities by visiting Sri Lanka, Spain, and Russia this month and ASEAN nations next month. The paper said although Motegi has not traveled abroad other than to India during the Diet session in order to concentrate on deliberations on the U.S.-Japan trade agreements, he plans to actively engage in diplomatic activities after the session ends this week. Motegi is also planning to visit the United States for talks with Secretary of State Pompeo to reaffirm the importance of the U.S.-Japan alliance ahead of the 60th anniversary of the security treaty next year.


GOJ acknowledges purchase of Mage Island

Asahi wrote that Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga acknowledged at a news conference on Monday that the Ministry of Defense reached a basic agreement with the owner of Mageshima for the purchase of the island in Kagoshima Prefecture. The island has been selected as a candidate site for the transfer of the U.S. military's field carrier landing practice (FCLP) from Iwo Island. Suga was quoted as saying the two parties reached a basic agreement on Nov. 29 on the government's purchase of the outcrop for 16 billion yen ($146 million). Asahi wrote that Suga expressed the GOJ's position that the purchase price is reasonable and cited the possibility of the island being used as an SDF operational base in the event of large-scale disasters. In response to the concern expressed by the municipal government of Nishinoomote, which owns 1% of the island, about hosting U.S. military drills there, Suga said it is important to obtain the understanding and support of the local community and the GOJ will provide an explanation of the proposed training once the purchase has been formally agreed upon. Sankei, Mainichi, and Nikkei ran similar reports, quoting Suga as also saying it is important to acquire a site for a permanent FCLP facility at an early date.

Japan joins NATO cybersecurity drills

Nikkei wrote that on Monday the Ministry of Defense and the SDF officially joined NATO's Cyber Coalition 2019 cybersecurity exercise. The large-scale drills began on Monday and will last until Friday, with more than 30 NATO members taking part. The paper speculated Japan's participation is aimed at expanding its defense cooperation with the United States and Europe in view of the growing cyber threat posed by China.


GOJ, LDP to arrange joint funeral for former Prime Minister Nakasone

Nikkei wrote that LDP Secretary General Nikai told reporters on Monday that his party is considering holding a funeral for former Prime Minister Nakasone together with the GOJ. Nikkei, Sankei, and Mainichi wrote Prime Minister Abe participated in a wake for Nakasone held in Tokyo on Monday with about 300 people in attendance.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team