JAPAN MEDIA HIGHLIGHTS
Morning Alert   -   Wednesday, January 22, 2020
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HEADLINES

Morning news

NHK and TBS gave led with reports saying that more than 300 people have been infected with the Wuhan coronavirus. NHK added that the United States has also confirmed the first domestic case of the virus. TV Asahi gave top coverage to a report on the death of actor Jo Shishido at the age of 86 on Monday. NTV led with a report on security footage of two men stealing a motorbike in Osaka on Sunday, while Fuji TV reported on the arrest of a female high school student for stealing oil cans in Sendai on Sunday.

Top stories in national dailies included the confirmation that the Wuhan coronavirus can spread between humans (Sankei), an increase in the number of people overstaying their visas since Japan introduced waivers for short-term visits from Thailand and Indonesia (Yomiuri), multiple hackers' suspected involvement in a recent cyberattack against Mitsubishi Electric (Asahi), a planned tie-up between the Bank of Japan, the European Central Bank, and four other central banks to create a central bank digital currency (Nikkei), and Education Ministry recommendations that foreign children receive compulsory education in Japan (Mainichi).

SECURITY

Defense Minister Kono says talks on cost of stationing U.S. forces to begin in early autumn

Asahi wrote that Defense Minister Kono said at a news conference on Tuesday that U.S.-Japan negotiations on the five-year cost sharing agreement for the stationing of U.S. forces from fiscal 2021 will probably start in early autumn. Noting that the current agreement is set to expire in March 2021, the paper interpreted Kono's statement to mean that the two nations will start full-scale negotiations after the summer. The paper wrote that Kono also said Japan's current share of the cost is appropriate and he believes the United States holds the same view.

GOJ mulls restricting foreigners' land purchases

Nikkei wrote that Japan has begun mulling the restriction of land purchases by foreign nationals and entities. Under the idea, land purchases near national security-related facilities, including nuclear power plants and U.S. military and SDF bases, would undergo prior screening. The paper wrote that anyone can currently buy or sell land in Japan in principle, but there are concerns about foreign parties purchasing property near sensitive infrastructure. According to the paper, the Defense Ministry found in a 2013 survey that foreign nationals and businesses were involved in property transactions in areas near SDF facilities in Hokkaido and Nagasaki Prefecture. The GOJ reportedly plans to put together an outline of the restrictions for inclusion in its basic guidelines on economic policy and reforms to be finalized in June and prepare related legislation to be submitted to the ordinary Diet session in 2021.

INTERNATIONAL

Russia proposes inviting Abe to 75th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany

Asahi wrote that it has learned from a GOJ source that Russian President Putin sounded out National Security Secretariat Secretary General Kitamura at a meeting in Moscow on Jan. 16 on the possibility of Prime Minister Abe attending the 75th anniversary of Russia's victory over Nazi Germany that will be held in Moscow in May. According to the source, Putin expressed eagerness to hold talks with Abe to propose that he visit Russia around the anniversary. The paper wrote that according to a senior GOJ official, Moscow extended an unofficial invitation to Abe last year to attend the ceremony, but the premier has not yet decided whether to accept it.

Japan, Poland agree to deepen bilateral cooperation

Asahi wrote that Prime Minister Abe held bilateral talks with Polish Prime Minister Morawiecki at the Kantei on Tuesday. The two leaders reportedly agreed to deepen cooperation between their nations on the economic, security, and technology fronts. Abe stated at a post-meeting joint press conference: "Japan and Poland have stepped up their cooperation since they established a strategic partnership in 2015. I had productive discussions with Prime Minister Morawiecki on elevating this partnership to the next stage." Nikkei also reported on the meeting, saying the two leaders discussed improving the business environment in Poland in order to increase Japanese companies' investment there.

ECONOMY

CCS Suga says schedule for formulating basic policy on integrated resorts unchanged

Asahi wrote that Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga said at a regular press briefing on Tuesday that the GOJ has no plan at this juncture to change its schedule for formulating a basic policy on integrated resorts featuring casinos by the end of January. However, LDP Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Moriyama indicated the possibility of postponing formulation of the policy until March or April by saying: "We still have time to decide."

SCIENCE

Environment minister questions Japan's involvement in coal-fired plant project in Vietnam

Mainichi wrote that at a news conference on Tuesday Environment Minister Koizumi expressed opposition to the planned construction of a coal-fired power plant in Vietnam, which the government-linked Japan Bank for International Cooperation is considering financing. Koizumi reportedly said: "We won't be able to obtain the consent of the Japanese people or the international community for this project."

POLITICS

GOJ, LDP to hold joint funeral for Prime Minister Nakasone

Sankei wrote that the LDP announced on Tuesday that it will hold a funeral for the late Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone together with the GOJ at a Tokyo hotel on March 15. Prime Minister Abe will serve as the master of ceremonies. This will be the first time for the LDP and GOJ to hold a joint funeral since the one held for Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa in 2007.

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U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team