Morning Alert - Tuesday, September 15, 2020
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Morning news

NHK gave top coverage to a report that newly elected LDP President Suga has decided on his new party leadership lineup, including retaining Secretary General Nikai. The network said the new cabinet will be formed tomorrow, adding that there is a growing view that Deputy Prime Minister Aso will be appointed to an important post. All commercial networks and national dailies also led with the LDP leadership election.


Suga elected LDP leader

All national dailies reported extensively on the election of Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga as the new president of the ruling LDP on Monday. Suga is now set to be elected as prime minister of Japan at an extraordinary Diet session on Wednesday. Suga won 377 of the 534 votes from LDP lawmakers and delegates of local chapters. LDP Policy Research Council Chairman Kishida won 89 votes and former LDP Secretary General Ishiba won 68. Suga’s term as LDP president is limited to the remainder of Prime Minister Abe’s current three-year term through September 2021. The papers speculated that Suga will keep LDP Secretary General Nikai and Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Aso in their current posts.

At a news conference held after the leadership election, Suga vowed to focus on dealing with the coronavirus outbreak and promoting government reforms and deregulation rather than calling a snap general election, stressing that he will create a cabinet that works for the people. Suga said he believes that what the people expect of him is to bring the coronavirus under control and get the Japanese economy back on track. He also reportedly said he will choose ministers for his cabinet who share his policy goals, are eager to implement reform, and can get things done.

Asahi and Yomiuri wrote that although Suga expressed a negative view about dissolving the Lower House for a snap general election at an early date, there is strong hope among LDP lawmakers that an election will be held immediately after the launch of the new cabinet to ask the people to pass judgment on it. According to Sankei, Aso said on Monday during a speech in Niigata that it is possible that a general election will be held soon under the new prime minister.

Suga vows to promote deregulation

All national dailies reported extensively on Yoshihide Suga’s remarks after being elected LDP president on Monday. At a news conference, he said he will move forward with deregulation and put an end to sectionalism in government agencies, vested interests, and the practice of blindly following past precedents.

Among his reform plans, Suga stressed the need for government digitization by saying his goal is to allow people to receive government services 24 hours a day and 7 days a week as long as they have My Number cards. He also expressed eagerness to reorganize the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, reduce mobile phone charges, and consolidate regional banks. “Many of the policies that have failed to advance smoothly involve multiple government offices,” said Suga. The papers said this remark seemed to indicate a reorganization of the Health Ministry, which has been criticized for delays in dealing with the coronavirus outbreak.

Regarding the lineup of the new cabinet, Yomiuri speculated that Foreign Minister Motegi and Olympics Minister Hashimoto will remain in their current posts. Speculating that Suga’s ability to maintain Prime Minister Abe’s performance in handling foreign affairs and security issues will be tested, Asahi pointed out that although the Japanese prime minister usually visits the United States to attend the UN General Assembly and meet with foreign leaders in late September, it will be difficult for Suga to develop relations with foreign leaders because opportunities to meet them in person will be limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Business leaders comment on Suga’s election as LDP president

Yomiuri wrote that Keidanren Chairman Nakanishi released a comment on the election of Suga as the new LDP leader on Monday, saying that the business lobby hopes Suga will work to prevent the new coronavirus from spreading further and restore Japan’s economy as soon as possible and implement growth strategies, including digitization. Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman Mimura stated that he hopes Suga will exercise leadership in coping with such issues as structural reform, revitalization of local economies, and fiscal reconstruction.

China comments on Suga’s election as LDP leader

Nikkei and Yomiuri wrote that during a regular press briefing on Monday, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson congratulated Suga for his election as LDP president. The spokesperson reportedly added that China is hoping to work with Suga to deepen cooperation between Japan and China in combating the coronavirus and developing the economy, and continue to improve bilateral relations.


U.S. ambassador to China to leave post

Yomiuri and Asahi wrote that the U.S. Embassy in Beijing announced on Monday that Ambassador Terry Branstad will step down in early October. The embassy has disclosed no reason for his resignation. Nikkei ran a similar report, adding that no information is available about Ambassador Branstad’s successor.


Trial of former Nissan executive Kelly to begin today

NHK reported this morning that the trial of former Nissan executive Greg Kelly will start at 10:30 a.m. today at the Tokyo District Court over alleged violations of Japan's financial instruments and exchange law in conspiracy with former Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn by underreporting Ghosn’s remuneration. The network said the trial, in which Nissan is also a defendant, will begin without Ghosn in attendance since he fled to Lebanon. The network said Kelly is expected to plead innocent, while Nissan is expected to plead guilty.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team