JAPAN MEDIA HIGHLIGHTS
Morning Alert - Wednesday, September 2, 2020
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HEADLINES

Morning news

NHK, TBS, and TV Asahi led with reports saying that Typhoon Maysak is now moving toward Kyushu. NTV and Fuji TV reported that another typhoon developed last night and is expected to bring heavy rains and strong winds to western Japan.

All national dallies gave top play to reports on growing support within the LDP for Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga’s candidacy for party president.

POLITICS

Rank-and-file party members to be excluded from LDP presidential election

All national dailies led with reports on the decision made at an LDP General Council meeting on Tuesday to hold a leadership election without the participation of rank-and-file party members. The party normally elects its leader at a convention involving all party members, but the party’s rules state that its president can also be elected in a simplified format involving only the party’s lawmakers and three representatives of each of the 47 prefectural chapters in emergency situations. The party unanimously approved the simplified format after a two-hour discussion based on the view that the election needs to be held as soon as possible to cope with urgent issues related to the coronavirus pandemic. The election is expected to be scheduled for Sept. 14 with the official campaign period starting on Sept. 8.

The papers also wrote that as many as 145 young and mid-ranking lawmakers, including Environment Minister Koizumi, have submitted a petition saying the party should hold a full-scale election to reflect the views of rank-and file members. In response, the party decided to ask each prefectural chapter to hold preliminary votes to gauge the views of the rank-and-file members. Yomiuri wrote that the LDP has no clear rules on how the results of preliminary votes should be reflected in the party presidential election.

Ishiba, Kishida announce candidacy for LDP president

All national dailies wrote that former LDP Secretary General Ishiba and Policy Research Council Chairman Kishida expressed on Tuesday their intentions to run for LDP president. Defense Minister Kono has reportedly decided not to run in the party leadership election this time. The papers wrote that although Cabinet Secretary Suga has not yet announced his candidacy, he has already garnered support from five of the seven LDP factions and is in the lead. He is expected to announce his intention to run today.

Nikkei wrote that although Suga would likely continue the “Abenomics” economic stimulus policy if he were to win the election, Ishiba and Kishida are stressing that the policy should be amended. Ishiba said at a news conference on Tuesday that although Abenomics achieved a number of results, it did not raise individual incomes. Kishida told reporters on Tuesday that although Abenomics accomplished a great deal, the benefits of economic growth have not reached the middle class or small and medium-sized enterprises. The paper also wrote that while all three lawmakers support the current monetary easing policy, they have different views about fiscal discipline. Suga is interested in spending reform, while Ishiba has mentioned the possibility of reducing the consumption tax to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and Kishida has stressed the need for fiscal reconstruction and expressed caution toward the idea of cutting the consumption tax.

Abe expresses gratitude for messages from President Trump and other world leaders

Yomiuri wrote that Prime Minister Abe expressed on Twitter his gratitude for the warm messages he received from President Trump and the leaders of other nations on his resignation. To President Trump, Abe wrote: “Our partnership has made the Japan-U.S. relations more robust than ever before. My friendship and trust with you, Donald, means so much. I appreciate your friendship from the bottom of my heart.” Sankei ran a similar report.

INTERNATIONAL

Japan to reopen borders with Taiwan and four other nations for business travelers

All national dailies wrote that Foreign Minister Motegi told reporters on Tuesday that Japan has reached agreement with Taiwan, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar to mutually allow the entry of business travelers starting on Sept. 8. Motegi said that “Japan hopes to both prevent the spread of the coronavirus and revive the economy.”

Foreign ministers of Japan, Saudi Arabia discuss Middle East situation

Yomiuri wrote that Foreign Minister Motegi spoke by phone with his Saudi Arabian counterpart on Tuesday. The paper wrote that the two officials agreed to cooperate in holding a G20 summit in Riyadh in November and discussed the situation in the Middle East, including the recent diplomatic normalization between Israel and the UAE.

COVID-19

Japan to join international framework to procure coronavirus vaccines

All national dailies wrote that Health Minister Kato said at a news conference on Tuesday that Japan will join the COVAX Facility, an international framework that aims to guarantee equitable global access to potential vaccines for the novel coronavirus. The framework is planning to supply 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines worldwide by the end of 2021. Kato told reporters that this is one way to procure vaccines and will also allow Japan to contribute to efforts to distribute vaccines in a fair and globally accessible manner.

SECURITY

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to lead development of next-generation fighter jet

Nikkei and Sankei wrote that Defense Minister Kono said at a press conference on Tuesday that only Mitsubishi Heavy Industries responded to his ministry’s public invitation to participate as project leader in the development of Japan’s next-generation fighter jet. The papers wrote that the ministry will sign an official contract with Mitsubishi next month or later. The papers also wrote that the company will oversee the entire project by coordinating with foreign firms that will participate in the joint development of the next-generation fighter, which the ministry plans to deploy in 2035 to replace the aging F-2. Kono also announced that seven foreign firms had applied to participate in the project by the Aug. 31 deadline.

ECONOMY

Japan, Australia, India to jointly enhance supply chains

Yomiuri and Mainichi wrote that economic ministers of Japan, Australia, and India officially agreed during a videoconference on Tuesday to move forward with the idea of developing regional supply chains to strengthen their international competitiveness. The papers wrote that Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Kajiyama and his Australian and Indian counterparts stressed in a joint statement the need to enhance their supply chains in the view that the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted manufacturers’ supply routes. The three nations are considering inviting ASEAN nations to participate in the initiative.

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