Morning Alert   -   Wednesday, December 4, 2019
The following information reflects the reporting of the cited news media and does not reflect the opinions of the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. Japan Media Highlights is intended for USG use only and should not be forwarded. Visit the website here. For more information, contact TokyoMATT@state.gov.


Morning news

NHK's top item was a report on a snowstorm in Hokkaido. Most commercial networks led with reports on a man arrested for the murder of the three-year-old son of a woman he lived with in Tokyo. TBS led with the repercussions of Finance Minister Aso's cruise on an MSDF submarine on a Saturday even though it was a holiday for the vessel's crew.

All national dailies other than Nikkei led with reports on the results of an international assessment test for 15-year-old students conducted in 79 countries and regions in 2018 by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Japan ranked 15th in reading proficiency, down from eighth place in the 2015 test. Nikkei gave top play to China's plan to raise its 2025 target for domestic sales of "new energy vehicles" to 25% from 20%.


Iranian president plans visit to Japan

Asahi front-paged a report saying it learned from Japanese and Iranian government officials on Tuesday that Tokyo and Tehran are making arrangements for President Rouhani to visit Japan by the end of this month or later. The paper noted Rouhani would be the first Iranian president to visit Japan since President Khatami in 2000.

Asahi wrote that according to a MOFA briefing, Prime Minister Abe explained to Araghchi during their 40-minute meeting at the Kantei on Tuesday Japan's plan to send SDF assets to the Middle East. The Iranian official reportedly expressed hope for the Japanese government to make efforts to reduce tensions in the region. The paper speculated the possibility of Rouhani's visit to Japan was discussed during the meeting. Yomiuri, Mainichi, and Sankei ran similar reports. Nikkei wrote Abe expressed concern to Araghchi over Iran's moves to depart from the Iran nuclear deal and urged the nation not to undermine the accord.

NHK filed a similar story, quoting Araghchi as saying in an interview with the broadcaster last night: "Prime Minister Abe has visited Iran, so President Rouhani will eventually visit Tokyo. However, there are many other things we should discuss right now." While noting the Iranian leader plans to attend an international conference in Malaysia from Dec. 18-20, the network quoted an unnamed Iranian government official as saying: "President Rouhani wishes to visit Japan before or after his trip to Malaysia. He is very eager to travel to Japan."

Abe to hold talks with Moon in China

All national dailies other than Asahi wrote that Prime Minister Abe told senior government and ruling coalition officials on Tuesday he will visit India on Dec. 15-17 and China on Dec. 23-25. He reportedly added he plans to hold bilateral talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on the sidelines of the trilateral summit with China slated for Chengdu, China, on Dec. 23-25. Yomiuri speculated the issue of compensation for former Korean requisitioned workers will be discussed at the envisaged Japan-ROK summit.

President Trump comments on DPRK

Yomiuri wrote that President Trump told reporters at the outset of his meeting with NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg in London on Tuesday that if necessary, the United States might use its military power against North Korea in response to its repeated provocations. The paper speculated the remark was intended to move forward the nuclear talks with the DPRK by putting pressure on Pyongyang.


President Trump says he asked Abe to pay more for hosting U.S. troops

Asahi, Yomiuri, and Nikkei reported on remarks made to the press by President Trump during his meeting with NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg in London on Tuesday. The President reportedly said he asked Prime Minister Abe to pay more of the cost of stationing U.S. forces in Japan. The papers wrote the President reportedly said Japan is a wealthy nation and it needs to help the United States.

U.S. pressure, landowner's financial problems behind agreement on Mage Island purchase

Asahi ran an extensive behind-the-scenes story on the recent agreement between the GOJ and the owner of Mage Island in Kagoshima Prefecture on the purchase of the island as a candidate site for the transfer of the U.S. military's field carrier landing practice (FCLP) from Iwo Island. The paper claimed pressure from the United States and the landowner's financial problems lie behind the rapid progress in the eight-year-long negotiations between the two parties. The paper speculated the U.S. military regards FCLP as indispensable for operations of the Yokosuka-based aircraft carrier, which plays a key role in the United States' forward deployment in the Indo-Pacific region. The paper alleged that Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga and other key members of the Abe administration had been frequently urged by senior U.S. government officials to move forward with the purchase of the island. The paper also alleged that the U.S. military conduced FCLP at Atsugi in the fall of 2017 for the first time in five years, citing foul weather as the reason, and the GOJ interpreted the exercise as "tacit pressure."


Diet set to approve bill on U.S.-Japan trade agreements

All national dailies wrote that the Upper House Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee passed a bill on Tuesday to approve the U.S.-Japan trade agreements by a majority vote with support from the ruling LDP and its coalition partner the Komeito Party and the Japan Innovation Party. The papers wrote the bill is expected to be approved at an Upper House plenary session on Wednesday to pave the way for effectuating the bilateral accords on January 1.

Asahi claimed Diet deliberation on the agreements was rushed out of consideration for the Trump administration's hope to produce swift results ahead of the presidential election in November 2020. The paper also asserted that although the Abe administration insists that the agreements are a "win-win deal," apprehension remains that the accords could be disadvantageous to Japan.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team