Morning Alert - Friday, October 23, 2020
The following information reflects the reporting of the cited news media and does not reflect the opinions of the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. Japan Media Highlights is intended for USG use only and should not be forwarded. Visit the website here. For more information, contact TokyoMATT@state.gov.


Morning news

Broadcasters led with reports on the final U.S. presidential debate scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Japan time (NHK), a car ramming into a convenience store in Tokyo yesterday (NTV), the launch of the “Motto (More) Tokyo” campaign for Tokyo residents today (TBS), an announcement by comedian Takashi Okamura that he got married (Fuji TV), and the arrest of a man in connection with the abandonment of a body found in his apartment (TV Asahi).

Top stories in national dailies included a plan by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to freeze its small passenger jet development (Nikkei), public funds’ ownership of 80% of firms listed on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange (Asahi), a Health Ministry plan to ease restrictions on visits to elderly care facilities (Yomiuri), and a record high of 610,000 school bullying cases in fiscal 2019 in Japan (Mainichi, Sankei).


Suga, INDOPACOM commander share “serious concern” over China’s maritime activities

Nikkei and Asahi wrote that Prime Minister Suga held talks with Admiral Philip Davidson, the commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, on Thursday at the Kantei. The papers wrote that with China’s activities in the South and East China Seas in mind, the two officials expressed “serious concern and strong objections.” Asahi wrote that the prime minister and the admiral also discussed the situation in the DPRK. The paper also wrote that at the outset of the meeting, Suga reportedly commented on the vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific by saying he hopes the United States and Japan will continue to cooperate in achieving the vision. The paper quoted Adm. Davidson as reportedly saying in response that the Indo-Pacific Command will work to pursue the vision together with Japan.

Kyodo News also reported on the meeting between the prime minister and the admiral, saying that they discussed ways to ease the burden on Okinawa of hosting U.S. military bases, with Suga stressing the importance of gaining the understanding of local residents.


Defense Minister Kishi, Okinawa Governor Tamaki discuss Futenma relocation

Yomiuri, Asahi, Mainichi, and Sankei wrote that Defense Minister Kishi held talks with Okinawa Governor Tamaki at the governor’s office on Thursday and called for his understanding of the GOJ project to relocate the functions of MCAS Futenma to Henoko, Nago. The papers wrote that the two officials remained at odds over the issue because Tamaki insisted that the relocation plan should be suspended, while Kishi reiterated the GOJ’s position that Henoko is the only solution. Kishi reportedly expressed a negative view about Tamaki’s request to include Okinawa in the GOJ’s discussions with the United States on the matter.

In a related story, Sankei wrote that Kishi faces several difficult issues including Futenma relocation, the selection of an alternative for the canceled Aegis Ashore deployment, and host nation support negotiations with the United States.


Japan to ease entry restrictions for business travelers staying 72 hours or less

Nikkei wrote that the GOJ is making arrangements to allow business travelers who plan to stay in Japan no more than 72 hours to enter the country without quarantining beginning as early as next month on the condition that they present negative COVID-19 test certificates and plans for their activities while in Japan to the immigration authorities. They will not be allowed to use public transportation and required to restrict their activities to limited areas, such as workplaces and hotels. The paper wrote that Japan is aiming to revive the economy by easing entry restrictions. The paper also wrote that the GOJ is considering applying the new rules to Thailand, Taiwan, Australia, and New Zealand, and will study the possibility of expanding them to the United States, European nations, and India while carefully monitoring the infection situations in these countries. Asahi, Mainichi, and Sankei ran similar reports.

New COVID-19 cases edging up in Japan

Nikkei, Asahi, and Mainichi wrote that an expert panel advising the Health Ministry released its analysis on Thursday that the number of new COVID-19 cases, which had been at around the same level until recently, is now on a slight upward trend. Nikkei wrote that moves to prepare hospitals to accept patients who are in serious condition or at high risk, such as elderly people, are spreading nationwide ahead of the winter, when the virus is expected to become more active.


MHI to freeze development of regional jet

Nikkei led with a report saying that Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) is making final arrangements to freeze its program to develop the first domestically manufactured small passenger jet, known as SpaceJet. The paper wrote that although MHI had planned to deliver the first SpaceJet as early as fiscal 2021 and All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines, and other carriers have ordered about 300 of the 90-seat-class jets, the company made the decision to halt the development based on the view that it will be difficult to generate profits from the jet business due to a global slump in air travel owing to the coronavirus pandemic. All other national dailies ran similar reports.

Local assembly approves request to restart Onagawa nuclear reactor

All national dailies wrote that the Miyagi prefectural assembly approved on Thursday a request to restart the No. 2 reactor at the Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant in the prefecture that was submitted by the Onagawa Chamber of Commerce. The prefectural assembly gave the green light following the approval of the municipal assembly of Ishinomaki, which co-hosts the nuclear power plant with Onagawa. The papers wrote that Miyagi Governor Murai will likely express as early as next month his consent for restarting the reactor, quoting him as telling reporters on Thursday that he will take the prefectural assembly’s decision to heart.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team