Morning Alert   -   Thursday, January 16, 2020
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Morning news

NHK gave top coverage to a report that the U.S and China signed the "phase one" trade deal on Wednesday. NTV led with a follow-up report on the man who was arrested after barricading himself inside a shipping company in Shimane. Other broadcasters led with reports on LDP lawmaker Anri Kawai's press conference on Wednesday after her office was raided by the Hiroshima prosecutors on suspicion of violating the Public Offices Election Act during the Upper House election last year.

Top stories in national dailies included the election law violation scandal involving Upper House member Anri Kawai and her husband, a plan by Google to phase out its provision of users' cookie data to third-party companies by 2022 (Nikkei), an Environment Ministry survey finding that polychlorinated biphenyl was detected in 46% of large outdoor facilities nationwide (Yomiuri), a Justice Ministry plan to tighten monitoring of persons freed on bail (Sankei), and the result of a university survey showing that 80% of junior high and high school girls are at risk of becoming amenorrheic (Mainichi).


U.S., Japan reaffirm strong alliance through ministerial meetings

All national dailies ran extensive reports on a meeting between Secretary of State Pompeo and Foreign Minister Motegi in East Palo Alto, near San Francisco, on Tuesday and another meeting between Secretary of Defense Esper and Defense Minister Kono at the Pentagon on the same day. The papers wrote that Secretary Pompeo welcomed Japan's efforts to ease the tensions in the Middle East and that Secretary Esper welcomed Japan's dispatch of MSDF assets to the Middle East.

Yomiuri speculated that the simultaneous visits to the United States by Motegi and Kono were aimed at demonstrating to the international community the strong U.S.-Japan alliance in conjunction with the 60th anniversary of the signing of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty on Jan. 19. The paper also speculated that Motegi will seek to meet with Secretary Pompeo again at an international conference to be held in Germany in February. The paper also conjectured that Tokyo is planning to explain to Washington at their coming Special Measures Agreement talks that Japan is bearing a fair share of the cost of hosting U.S. troops in response to a call within the U.S. government for Japan to boost its financial support. The paper wrote that Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga told reporters in Tokyo on Wednesday that close and in-depth consultations between their cabinet ministers were critically important for the United States and Japan in order to further strengthen their alliance.

Nikkei wrote that the United States and Japan reaffirmed their strong alliance through the meetings between their foreign policy and defense chiefs. The paper asserted that the bilateral alliance has become stronger partly on account of the friction between Washington and Beijing. The paper wrote that although the issue of Japan's sharing the cost of hosting U.S. forces did not come up at the foreign and defense ministerial meetings on Tuesday, it could reemerge ahead of the U.S. presidential election in November.

U.S. official comments on U.S. assistance strategy in Indo-Pacific

Nikkei ran a recent interview with Adam Boehler, the CEO of the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC). The paper wrote that the DFC chief expressed U.S. plans to concentrate its support to emerging nations' infrastructure development in the high-tech sector, such as 5G and fiber networks, in line with the vision of a "free and open Indo-Pacific." The paper wrote that Boehler reportedly said that it is important to provide emerging economies with options other than China. He also reportedly told the paper that he chose Tokyo as the destination of his first overseas trip as the DFC chief because coordination with Japan is critically important for the United States' Indo-Pacific strategy.

U.S., Japan, EU agree on tougher rules against trade-distorting subsidies

Asahi wrote that trade ministers from the United States, Japan, and the EU agreed on Tuesday to tighten the existing WTO rules against trade-distorting subsidies. The paper speculated that this is one of their moves to enhance their cooperation against China's industrial subsidy policy. The paper wrote that USTR Lighthizer, Economy, Trade, and Industry Minister Kajiyama, and European Commissioner for Trade Hogan agreed on four new types of subsidies that should be unconditionally banned, such as those with unlimited guarantees and those granted to an insolvent or ailing enterprise in the absence of a credible restructuring plan. Mainichi ran a similar report.

Japan sends SDF planes, 70 personnel to help fight Australia fires

Sankei and Nikkei wrote that the Ministry of Defense announced on Wednesday that it has sent two ASDF C-130 transport planes and 70 personnel to Australia to assist in efforts to fight devastating bushfires. The aircraft and the personnel left Komaki Air Base in Aichi Prefecture on Wednesday to join eight SDF members already in Australia. The planes will mainly be used to transport personnel and supplies.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team