Morning Alert   -   Wednesday, January 15, 2020
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Morning news

All networks gave top coverage to reports that a man has barricaded himself inside a shipping company building in Izumo, Shimane Prefecture, with a female employee as a hostage since Tuesday afternoon.

Top stories in national dailies included the U.S. Treasury Department's removal of China from its designation as a currency manipulator (Sankei), a 13% decline in exports from China to the U.S. in 2019 (Nikkei), a fresh arrest warrant issued to Lower House member Akimoto for allegedly receiving more money from a Chinese gambling operator (Asahi, Mainichi), and a GOJ plan to enact a new law to penalize the smuggling of wagyu cattle sperm and embryos (Yomiuri).


Foreign Minister Motegi discusses U.S.-Japan alliance with former Secretary of State Shultz

Yomiuri reported on Foreign Minister Motegi's meeting with George Shultz, the secretary of state under President Ronald Reagan, on Monday in San Francisco. Motegi thanked Shultz for playing a distinguished role in strengthening the U.S.-Japan alliance. Ahead of the 60th anniversary of the signing of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty on Jan. 19, Motegi said the efforts and dedication of people in both countries have contributed to today's robust alliance.

Prime Minister Abe visits Oman

All national dailies reported on Prime Minister Abe's visit to Oman on Tuesday on the last leg of his three-nation tour of the Middle East. The papers wrote that during his meeting with Sultan Haitham bin Tariq al-Said, Abe offered his condolences on the death of Sultan Qaboos bin Said last Friday. According to the papers, Abe and the new Sultan agreed that the two nations will strengthen their bilateral relations and promote their cooperation toward stabilizing the Middle East. According to a Japanese briefing, the Sultan welcomed Japan's dispatch of MSDF assets to the region. The papers also said Abe discussed the regional situation with Assaad bin Tariq al Said, the special representative for Oman's Sultan.

Yomiuri, Mainichi, and Sankei wrote that the GOJ is considering using ports in the UAE and Oman as bases for supplying the SDF units dispatched to the region.

Nikkei speculated that Abe's tour of the region was aimed at confirming Japan's cooperation with Sandi Arabia, the UAE, and Oman amid the tensions between the United States and Iran and gaining their understanding for Japan's sending MSDF assets to the region.

ROK president urges Japan to present proposal to resolve requisitioned workers issue

All national dailies reported on a New Year's news conference held by South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday during which he commented on Japan-ROK relations by saying that Japan should present its own proposal for resolving the requisitioned workers issue. The papers wrote that referring to the possibility of the liquidation of Japanese companies' seized assets, Moon reportedly said it is necessary for Tokyo and Seoul to discuss the issue early because time is running out. The ROK leader also said the two nations will be able to resolve the issue if they work together. Moon added that it will not be difficult to resolve the issue if Japan makes proposals that are acceptable to the victims. Moon stressed that he has a strong will to improve bilateral ties in a forward-looking manner, saying that the confidence between the two nations will be restored if they solve such issues as Japan's tightened export controls. He added that South Korea will send a senior government official to the opening ceremonies of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer, expressing hope that the event will be an opportunity for the two nations to fundamentally improve their ties.

Yomiuri commented that the gap between Tokyo and Seoul over the issue of former requisitioned workers remains deep because Japan has been insisting that the dispute was settled under the bilateral agreement concerning the settlement of property claims and economic cooperation. Yomiuri, Mainichi, and Sankei quoted Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga as saying at a news conference on Tuesday that there has been no change in Japan's position of calling on the ROK to rectify its violation of international law.

Yomiuri, Mainichi, and Nikkei added that President Moon expressed his willingness to expand cooperation between North and South Korea.

Japan, China hold strategic dialogue

Yomiuri and Nikkei wrote that Japan and China held a strategic dialogue in Xian, China, on Tuesday. The papers wrote that Vice Foreign Minister Akiba and his Chinese counterpart agreed that the two nations will move forward with preparations for President Xi's planned state visit to Japan in April. The two diplomats also discussed the situation in North Korea and agreed to work together to achieve its denuclearization. This was the first strategic dialogue held between the two nations since August 2019.


U.S., Japanese defense chiefs confirm close cooperation

NHK reported this morning on a meeting between Secretary of Defense Esper and Defense Minister Kono at the Pentagon on Tuesday, quoting Kono as telling reporters during a joint press conference: "First we discussed the situation in the Middle East, including the recent developments in Iran. I also explained the cabinet decision made in December last year to send the Self-Defense Forces to the Middle East." The network quoted Secretary Esper as saying: "I would like to thank the minister for Japan's decision to deploy its Self- Defense Force assets to the Gulf of Aden, the Gulf of Oman, and the Arabian Sea." During the meeting, Kono reportedly explained to his U.S. counterpart that he will continue to tenaciously make diplomatic efforts to ease tensions and bring stability to the region and ordered the deployment of SDF units. In response, Secretary Esper reportedly expressed his appreciation. The network said the two defense chiefs confirmed close cooperation and the sharing of information. In addition, the network said they agreed that North Korea's ballistic missile launches pose a "grave threat to regional security" and the UNSC resolutions must be fully implemented to completely and irreversibly abolish its ballistic missiles of all ranges.

Defense Minister Kono holds talks with Indo-Pacific commander

Nikkei wrote that Defense Minister Kono held talks with Admiral Phillip Davidson, head of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, on Oahu Island, Hawaii, on Monday. The paper wrote that the two agreed on U.S.-Japan cooperation against the DPRK's nuclear and missile programs and the importance of promoting the vision of a "free and open Indo-Pacific" in view of China's maritime advancement.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team