Morning Alert - Friday, September 11, 2020
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Morning news

NHK gave top coverage to a report that Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga is on track to win the LDP presidential election as he has secured more than 70% of the LDP Diet members’ votes and is gaining an increasing number of local votes. NTV and TBS led with reports that the GOJ will make a final decision today on whether to include travel to and from Tokyo in the “Go To Travel” campaign from October. TV Asahi led with a report that 276 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Tokyo yesterday, including a cluster at a sumo stable. Fuji TV gave top play to a report that NTT Docomo held a press conference yesterday to apologize for the unauthorized withdrawal of about 18 million yen ($170,000) from bank accounts linked to its e-money services.

Top stories in national dailies included the launch of a new opposition party (Asahi, Mainichi), a GOJ plan to establish virus testing centers in nightlife districts (Yomiuri), the GOJ plan to include travel to and from Tokyo in the “Go To Travel” campaign (Sankei), and moves by Japanese firms to focus on digital education for employees (Nikkei).


Three LDP presidential candidates differ on fiscal policy

Nikkei reviewed the positions expressed by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga, LDP Policy Research Council Chairman Kishida, and former LDP Secretary General Ishiba on Japan’s monetary easing policy and fiscal rehabilitation. The paper wrote that although all of them believe the BOJ’s monetary easing measures should be maintained for the time being, they have different views about long-term strategies. Suga has suggested the need for additional action while Kishida and Ishiba are cautious about the “side effects” of the current easing steps. Concerning fiscal rehabilitation, Suga gives priority to economic growth over fiscal reconstruction, while Kishida and Ishiba stress the need to restore the nation’s fiscal health.

In related stories, all national dailies wrote that Suga said in an appearance on TV Tokyo on Thursday that Japan’s consumption tax may need to be raised beyond the current 10% in the future. He reportedly said: “If we think about the future, we’ll have no choice but to raise the rate again after carrying out thorough administrative reforms. No matter how hard we try, it will be impossible to prevent Japan’s population from shrinking.”

New opposition party led by Edano launched yesterday

All national dailies wrote that a new opposition party consisting of 149 lawmakers mainly from the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and the Democratic Party for the People was launched on Thursday. The new party elected Yukio Edano, the head of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, as its leader and decided to use the name of his party for the new one. Nikkei wrote that this is the first time in eight years for an opposition party with more than 100 members to be launched in Japan.

Yomiuri and Mainichi expressed pessimistic views about the future of the new party, pointing out that there are major differences among its members over such policy issues as the consumption tax and nuclear power generation. Yomiuri wrote that it remains to be seen whether public support for the opposition camp will grow as a result of the launch.


Tokyo lifts request for drinking and karaoke establishments to close by 10 p.m.

All national dailies wrote that the Tokyo Metropolitan Government decided on Thursday to lift on Sept. 15 its request for karaoke parlors and establishments serving alcohol in the capital’s central 23 wards to close by 10:00 p.m. based on the view that the number of new COVID-19 cases has been trending downward recently. The Tokyo government also decided to lower its virus alert by one notch from level four, the highest level, to level three.

GOJ to include Tokyo in “Go To Travel” campaign on Oct. 1

All national dailies wrote that the GOJ is planning to include travel to and from Tokyo in its “Go To Travel” subsidy campaign starting on Oct. 1 on account of the recent downward trend in the number of new COVID-19 cases in Tokyo. The papers wrote that the GOJ will make a decision on the matter at a meeting of its experts’ subcommittee to be held today.


GOJ likely to issue prime minister’s statement on missile defense today

Yomiuri wrote that the GOJ will release a prime minister’s statement on Japan’s security policy on missile defense as early as today. The paper speculated that the GOJ will announce that it plans to reach a conclusion by the end of this year on whether Japan should acquire capabilities to block ballistic missiles while they are flying over enemy territory after discussing the issue with the ruling coalition. The paper also speculated that the statement will stress Japan’s policy of discussing the issue based on the Constitution, international law, and its exclusively defense-oriented policy and avoid using the term “capabilities to attack enemy bases.” Mainichi and Sankei ran similar reports.

Japan, India sign ACSA

Nikkei, Asahi, and Sankei wrote that the GOJ announced on Thursday that Japan has concluded an acquisition and cross-servicing agreement (ACSA) with India. Nikkei speculated that the move is intended to deepen Japan’s security cooperation with India and promote the vision of a “free and open Indo-Pacific” that is led by Japan and the United States.

LDP lawmakers compile recommendations on use of Chinese apps

Yomiuri wrote that a group of LDP lawmakers led by Akira Amari, the head of the LDP Research Commission on the Tax System, put together on Thursday a set of recommendations on the use of Chinese apps. The paper wrote that the group had the Chinese app TikTok in mind in compiling the recommendations and will submit them to the GOJ in the near future. The paper also wrote that the recommendations do not include restrictions on the use of Chinese apps. Sankei and Asahi ran similar reports.


Former Nissan executive Greg Kelly denies violating any regulations in Japan

NHK reported this morning on its one-on-one interview with former Nissan executive Greg Kelly conducted in Tokyo ahead of his first trial at Tokyo District Court that will begin on Sept. 15. Kelly, who was indicted on charges of allegedly violating financial laws by underreporting former Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn’s income, claimed his innocence by saying: “I did not violate any of the disclosure regulations in Japan.” Noting that Ghosn will not be present at the trial as he fled to Lebanon, the network quoted Kelly as saying: “I wish he was going to be here to testify. He made a decision that it was best for him and his family, and he’s got to live with that decision.” The network added that Kelly, who is currently on bail, has been unable to leave Japan for nearly two years.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team