Morning Alert   -   Friday, January 24, 2020
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Morning news

NHK gave top coverage to a report of the WHO chief's announcement on Thursday that the Wuhan coronavirus cannot be declared a public health emergency because the human-to-human transmissions seen in China have mainly been limited to family members or medical service providers. Fuji TV led with a report on the announcement by Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare that a second case of the new coronavirus has been confirmed in Japan. The patient is reportedly a tourist from Wuhan. NTV and TV Asahi led with reports on the closure of public transportation in Wuhan on Thursday. TBS focused on the imminent influx of Chinese tourists to Japan during the Chinese New Year holiday season that begins today.

All national dailies gave top play to reports on the Wuhan coronavirus.


Japan not exempted from new U.S. regulations on foreign investment

Nikkei wrote that the Treasury Department has released a list of countries to be exempted from new regulations set by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which examines the national security risks posed by foreign capital investment. The new regulations will reportedly be applied when the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA) comes into force on Feb. 13. Although Japan enacted a law to amend its Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Control Law in November 2019 to act in accordance with the United States in the hope that this would enable it to be exempted from the new rules, it was not included in the list of exempted states.

Crude oil imports from U.S. increased in 2019

Nikkei reported Japanese oil companies' imports of crude oil from the United States in 2019 increased by about 30% from 2018 to a record high. The paper wrote that since Japan depends on the Middle East for 90% of its oil imports, JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy and other companies are diversifying their sources of crude oil to ensure a stable supply. However, Japan is reportedly facing challenges in reducing its dependence on the Middle East.

Abe says GOJ plans to restrict senior officials' contact with casino operators

All national dailies wrote that Prime Minister Abe mentioned yesterday in his remarks to a Lower House plenary session the GOJ is planning to include rules in its basic policy on integrated resorts featuring casinos to restrict senior officials' contact with casino operators. The papers speculated the GOJ is mulling the idea in response to the arrest of LDP Lower House member Akimoto on suspicion of receiving bribes from a Chinese gambling operator. Nikkei conjectured that the GOJ is considering imposing new rules on cabinet ministers, vice ministers, parliamentary secretaries, and other senior officials in the central government and local governments and that the new restrictions will also apply to their contacts with foreign operators.


Tokyo high court orders state to pay damages for aircraft noise at Yokota AB

All national dailies other than Sankei wrote that Tokyo High Court on Thursday upheld a lower court ruling ordering the GOJ to pay a total of 112 million yen ($1 million) in damages caused by aircraft noise pollution to residents near the U.S. military's Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo. However, the court rejected a petition for the suspension of late-night and early-morning flights at the base and compensation claims for future noise damage.

Forty nations agree to restrict exports of military-use software to prevent cyberattacks

According to Nikkei, around 40 nations, including the United States and Japan, agreed late last year to include exports of military-use software that could be used for cyberattacks in the framework of an "international export control regime." The paper noted that although the existing regulations target equipment to be used for weapons, the nations decided to include software based on the judgment that major cyberattacks on military and communications infrastructure could cause serious damage. The paper reported each nation in the group will take domestic measures in 2020 or later based on the agreement, noting that while such nations as the UK, Russia, and India are members; China, North Korea, and Iran are not.


Beijing, Tokyo arranging Xi's visit to Japan around early April

NHK reported online the governments of Japan and China are coordinating Chinese leader Xi's visit to Japan around early April out of consideration for Diet deliberations and enthronement-related ceremonies scheduled for the middle of April. The network said foreign policy officials of the two nations will hold detailed discussions on the schedule and a new political document, which the two governments are planning to release during Xi's visit.

U.S. to target "birth tourism" with new visa restrictions for pregnant women

Thursday evening's Asahi wrote the Associated Press reported on Wednesday that the Trump administration is planning to tighten rules for pregnant women from foreign countries to obtain tourist visas in order to restrict "birth tourism," a practice in which women travel to the United States to give birth so their children can obtain U.S. citizenship. Asahi speculated the Trump administration is concerned that the United States' "birthright citizenship" policy, under which anyone born in the United States is considered a U.S. citizen under the Constitution, is leading to a rise in immigrants.


Abe says he will think about dissolving Lower House "when the time comes"

Yomiuri wrote that when asked in the Diet interpellations on Thursday whether he would consider dissolving the Lower House if deliberations on constitutional revision come to a standstill, Prime Minister Abe said: "I have no such plan at this juncture, but I'll decide to dissolve the Lower House for a snap election without hesitation if I come to believe the time has come to seek a public mandate."

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team