Morning Alert - Wednesday, August 26, 2020
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Morning news

NHK gave top play to a report on the ongoing heatwave in Japan, calling for caution against heatstroke. NTV, TBS, and TV Asahi led with reports that TV personality Moe Yamaguchi tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday, and her husband, comedian Yuji Tanaka, will be tested soon. Fuji TV gave top play to a report on a traffic accident in Kobe on Aug. 23.

Top stories in national dailies included the first court hearing for former Justice Minister Katsuyuki Kawai and his wife Anri, during which they pleaded not guilty to charges of vote buying (Asahi, Mainichi); the changing military balance in East Asia (Nikkei); a new GOJ strategy to increase the number of Japanese heading UN specialized agencies (Yomiuri); and a GOJ plan to reconsider whether COVID-19 should be classified as a Category II infectious disease (Sankei).


Komeito chief calls on GOJ to consider including Tokyo in “Go To Travel” campaign

All national dailies wrote that Komeito Chief Representative Yamaguchi expressed the view during a press briefing on Tuesday that the GOJ should consider adding travel to and from Tokyo to its “Go To Travel” campaign aimed at promoting tourism because the spread of the new coronavirus has apparently reached its peak. Yamaguchi reportedly said that he hopes the GOJ will carefully consider the possibility of adding Tokyo while closely monitoring the infection situation. He reportedly added that experts share the view that the number of cases in Tokyo has passed its peak and that Tokyo could help support the tourism industry if it is included in the campaign on account of its large population.

In a related development, the papers wrote that the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism announced on Tuesday that about 4.2 million people have used the travel subsidy campaign since its launch on July 22. Yomiuri wrote that the effectiveness of the campaign has been limited because many people have been traveling to neighboring areas by car rather than train probably out of concern over the coronavirus.


Chargé Young meets with Yokota family

All national dailies other than Asahi wrote that Chargé d'Affaires Young met with Sakie Yokota, the mother of abductee Megumi Yokota, and her family at the Ambassador’s Residence in Tokyo on Tuesday. The papers wrote that Sakie and Megumi’s twin brothers Takuya and Tetsuya expressed appreciation for the letters of condolence they received from President Trump and Chargé Young over the death of Megumi’s father Shigeru in June. Sakie reportedly told the press afterward that the Chargé listened to them very carefully and that she will continue stressing the importance of the abduction and other human rights issues in cooperation with foreign nations. Yomiuri quoted Takuya as telling reporters:” “We were encouraged by Chargé Young’s statement that the United States will continue to stand with us.” Mainichi wrote that according to the Yokota family, Chargé Young told them that the United States will continue to support efforts to resolve the abduction issue as soon as possible.

NHK also reported on the meeting between Charge d'Affaires Young and the Yokota family, saying that the meeting gave her hope and that she will call for bringing the abductees home in cooperation with people from various countries.

Defense Minister Kono reportedly mulled inspecting Senkakus from the air

Sankei claimed that it learned from multiple sources connected to the Ministry of Defense on Tuesday that Defense Minister Kono examined the idea of inspecting the Senkaku Islands from the air when he visited Miyako and Yonaguni Islands in Okinawa on Aug. 8 and 9. The paper wrote that although Kono was enthusiastic about the idea, he eventually decided to forgo the inspection out of consideration for Japan’s diplomatic relations with China. The paper wrote that although the idea was discussed behind the scenes, some Defense Ministry officials thought that such a move by a top ministry or SDF official might provoke Beijing.


Japan invites foreign firms to participate in development of next-generation fighter jet

Nikkei wrote that the Ministry of Defense announced on Tuesday that it had begun inviting foreign companies to participate in the development of Japan’s next-generation fighter jet to be deployed in 2035 with the expectation that foreign firms offering stealth capabilities and other state-of-the-art technologies will take part in the project to be led by a Japanese company. The paper wrote that the application period runs through the end of August and that the ministry will choose partners in early September, expecting that American and British companies will participate. The paper speculated that since the development of a fighter jet entails various technical challenges, including simulating control systems and airframe designs as well as testing stealth capabilities, the ministry is hoping that the experience gained by foreign contractors in past projects will help Japan develop the fighter jet more efficiently.

Defense Minister Kono stresses importance of U.S.-Japan-ROK cooperation

Mainichi wrote that Defense Minister Kono told reporters on Tuesday that trilateral cooperation between the United States, Japan, and South Korea is and will remain important in view of the DPRK’s missile programs. The paper said Kono made the comment in response to the likelihood that the Japan-ROK General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) will remain in effect for the time being since Seoul did not notify Japan that it intends to terminate the pact by the deadline of 12:00 a.m. on Aug. 25.


Abe plans to hold news conference on Friday

Nikkei and Yomiuri wrote that Prime Minister Abe is making arrangements to hold a news conference on Friday. The papers speculated that the premier is planning to provide an explanation about the GOJ’s response to the coronavirus outbreak and his health during the planned news conference, noting that it will be Abe’s first news conference at the Kantei since June 18.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team