Morning Alert - Wednesday, September 9, 2020
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Morning news

NHK gave top play to the forecast for torrential rain and strong wind in many parts of Japan today. All commercial networks led with reports that popular actor Yusuke Iseya was arrested yesterday for allegedly possessing marijuana at his home in Tokyo.

All national dailies gave top coverage to the official kickoff of the ruling LDP’s presidential election campaign.


LDP kicks off leadership election campaign

All national papers reported extensively on the official start on Tuesday of the ruling LDP’s presidential election campaign, noting that Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga appears to be enjoying a comfortable lead over former Secretary General Ishiba and former Foreign Minister Kishida. As many as 80% of the 394 LDP parliamentarians are likely to vote for the government spokesman in the election next Monday. Suga reportedly advocates continuing Prime Minister Abe’s policies, while Ishiba is calling for a “great reset” and Kishida reportedly underscores that he will strive to modify the policies.

Yomiuri wrote that during a policy debate between the three candidates yesterday, CCS Suga played it safe in explaining his policy goals on the diplomatic and security fronts. He reportedly emphasized that he will maintain Abe’s approach of treating the U.S.-Japan security alliance as the cornerstone of his administration’s foreign policy and promoting the free and open Indo-Pacific initiative. With regard to growing calls for the SDF to acquire capabilities to strike enemy bases, Suga simply stated that he will carefully monitor the ruling party’s discussions. As Ishiba and Kishida are well known for their expertise on international and security affairs, the government spokesman was apparently careful to avoid taking risks when commenting on these subjects.

Nikai becomes longest-serving LDP secretary general

Yomiuri wrote that LDP Secretary General Nikai’s tenure reached 1,498 days yesterday, making him the longest-serving secretary general of the ruling party. The veteran politician was reportedly the first LDP heavyweight to openly voice support for Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga’s candidacy in the party leadership race, influencing other senior party members to follow suit and making the government spokesman a “shoo-in” as Prime Minister Abe’s successor. Nikai’s political maneuvering is reportedly regarded as an attempt to ensure that Suga will retain him as the party’s second top official if he wins the election.

Edano likely to prevail in opposition leadership race

Mainichi front-paged the ongoing leadership election campaign for the new opposition party to be launched through the merger between the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ) and the Democratic Party for the People (DPFP). The paper conjectured that CDPJ President Edano is apparently leading DPFP Policy Research Council Chairman Izumi by a wide margin. Nearly 100 of the 149 new party’s Diet members are likely to vote for Edano. As Izumi is apparently waging an uphill battle, his associates are campaigning hard by arguing that the more support Izumi gains, the more receptive Edano will be to DPFP lawmakers’ calls for making the new party more policy-oriented.


GOJ to ease restrictions on event capacity

All national papers wrote that the GOJ is mulling relaxing the present COVID-19-related limitation on the number of people who can attend social events, such as music concerts and professional baseball games. As many as 10,000 to 20,000 people would be allowed to participate instead of the present 5,000, probably beginning on Sept. 19 when a four-day weekend starts. The GOJ may also consider easing the restriction for indoor events. However, since the ongoing coronavirus outbreak has not yet been brought completely under control, the GOJ reportedly plans to keep in place a separate 50% cap on seating capacity for outdoor events.

Japan resumes issuing visas for long-term residents from Southeast Asia

Sankei and Mainichi reported that on Tuesday the GOJ restarted issuing entry visas for long-term residents of Japan from Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Taiwan, explaining that these citizens will be permitted to enter Japan on the condition that they self-quarantine for two weeks upon arrival. “Residence Track” visas have already been issued to certain citizens from Vietnam and Thailand beginning on July 29. Over 400 businesspeople from the two Southeast Asian nations entered Japan on this visa program during the four-week period ending on Aug. 30.


Germany cautious about developing new patrol plane jointly with Japan

Jiji reported from Berlin that the German government has become increasingly hesitant about moving forward with the proposed joint development of a patrol plane with France and Japan out of concern that it may take more than five years for Japan’s P-1, which has been regarded as a prototype for the new model, to obtain a “type certificate.” According to the article, the German government decided to stop using the present Lockheed Martin P-3C in 2025 for cost reasons and is concerned that the Japanese aircraft will not have its type certificate in time for the P-3C retirement. The news agency speculated that Germany may choose the Boeing P-8 or another patrol plane instead, adding that Japan has already failed to market the P-1 to the UK and New Zealand, which decided to procure the P-8.


Abe bids farewell to Australian leader

Nikkei reported that Prime Minister Abe spoke by phone with his Australian counterpart Morrison on Tuesday to explain the reason for his impending resignation. The Australian leader was quoted as saying: “Prime Minister Abe is a model for global leaders.” They reportedly affirmed the importance for the two countries taking the lead in creating a free and open Indo Pacific.


Prospects for linear collider project grow dim

Mainichi reported that a Japanese advocate of an international program to build a major particle accelerator in a mountainous region of Iwate Prefecture has decided not to seek the GOJ’s endorsement on account of the difficulty in enlisting international support, speculating that the prospects for the multibillion-dollar scientific project are growing increasingly dim. The High Energy Accelerator Research Organization based in Ibaraki reportedly retracted its earlier request for the Education Ministry to put the International Liner Collider (ILC) program on the GOJ’s “roadmap” for large-scale scientific research projects that the central government will promote proactively on the grounds that the International Committee for Future Accelerators (ICFA), which promotes the ILC project, has concluded that a review of the project is necessary. The daily said that as Germany, France, and the UK are hesitant to back the ILC scheme financially, the GOJ is also becoming cautious about hosting it.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team