Morning Alert   -   Friday, January 3, 2020
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Morning news

NHK gave top coverage to a report that a French broadcaster showed a photo of former Nissan Motor Chairman Carlos Ghosn and his wife taken on Dec. 31 in Lebanon. NHK also reported that Ghosn has issued a new statement saying he arranged his departure from Japan on his own without any help from his family.

Top stories in national dailies included reports that the Chinese firm that allegedly paid three million yen to Lower House member Tsukasa Akimoto in connection with a casino resort project kept records saying it also paid one million yen each to five other Lower House members (Yomiuri), the Tokyo District Court allowed Carlos Ghosn to keep one of his passports (Asahi, Mainichi, and Sankei), and 30% of M&As in Japan in 2019 involved IT companies (Nikkei).


GOJ continues to exercise vigilance against North Korea

Friday's Yomiuri reported that the Japanese government is exercising vigilance against North Korea out of concern that it will resume active development of nuclear weapons and missiles following Kim Jong Un's remarks that the world will soon witness a "new strategic weapon." The paper said the GOJ will continue to support the U.S.-DPRK denuclearization talks and work closely with the U.S. and South Korea to monitor North Korea's moves. The paper wrote that a senior MOFA official analyzed Kim Jong Un's recent remarks by saying Kim wanted to emphasize that the U.S. is to blame for the slowing down of the U.S.-DPRK talks. As for the "new strategic weapon," the official expressed the need to collect more information and said it is unclear what Kim is referring to at this point. The daily added that Prime Minister Abe said on an Internet program on Jan. 1 that "Japan completely supports the U.S.-DPRK process. All nations must implement the UNSC resolutions." The premier also reiterated that he will seek to hold a summit with the North Korean leader without any preconditions.

China possibly ratcheting up pressure on Japan

Mainichi reported on Friday that several sources disclosed that China has deployed anti-ship missiles on its coast in coordination with its patrol ships' intrusions into Japanese territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands. The paper said that since the China Coast Guard became a military organization in July 2018, China's patrol ships have been operating in sync with its armed forces in order to keep Japan in check. The daily wrote that although China had previously limited the frequency of its patrol ships entering Japanese waters near the Senkakus to once or twice a month, the intrusions have increased to three times a month since the beginning of 2019. The paper said that although the operations of the coast guard and military were not coordinated in the past, China now deploys anti-ship missiles on its coast when the patrol ships enter the Japanese waters and flies bombers over the area. The paper pointed out that the Japanese government is increasing its vigilance since China could be ratcheting up pressure against Japan by demonstrating that its patrol boats are able to operate in sync with the army and air force.


Komeito's Yamaguchi hints at Lower House dissolution after Tokyo Olympics

Friday's Sankei reported that Komeito Party leader Yamaguchi referred to the possibility of a Lower House dissolution this year after the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. Yamaguchi reportedly said at a new year stump speech in Shinjuku, Tokyo, on Thursday: "The Paralympics will end in early September. By then the term of Lower House members will have reached one year. I cannot rule out the possibility of a new challenge during that time."


Interpol issues wanted notice for Carlos Ghosn

Nikkei carried a front-page article saying it learned on Thursday that Japanese investigators have asked the International Criminal Police Organization (ICPO) to issue a wanted notice for former Nissan Motor Chairman Ghosn following his escape to Lebanon from house arrest in Tokyo. The Lebanese judicial authorities confirmed on Thursday that the country had received the notice from Interpol. The paper said that although the notice requests the transfer of Ghosn's custody, Lebanese Justice Minister Serhan said the country does not intend to extradite Ghosn to Japan, according to the Associated Press. Serhan also reportedly suggested that Ghosn could face questioning by Lebanese prosecutors.

Meanwhile, Asahi and Sankei also reported in front-page articles that it has come to light that Ghosn was allowed to keep one of his French passports in a locked case while his lawyers retained his three other passports. Asahi said Ghosn may have used the passport to enter Lebanon. The paper also said the Tokyo prosecutors have raided Ghosn's residence in Tokyo to investigate whether he violated the Immigration Control Law. Sankei wrote that although the Tokyo District Court released Ghosn on bail last April on the condition that his lawyers were to retain all his passports, the court later changed the condition after it received a request from his lawyers who pointed out that it is "against the law" for a foreigner living in Japan not to possess a passport.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team