Morning Alert   -   Friday, September 24, 2021
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.


Broadcasters led with reports on Prime Minister Suga’s arrival in the U.S. to attend the Quad Leaders’ Summit (NHK), the finding that tests of eased restrictions on people’s activities will be conducted in Hokkaido, Saitama, and Osaka next month (NTV), the recent increase in the number of people visiting clinics for treatment for fever despite the decline in COVID-19 cases (TBS), Princess Mako’s attendance at an imperial ceremony yesterday (Fuji TV), and the unusually hot weather in Japan yesterday (TV Asahi).

Top stories in national dailies included the Quad leaders’ expected agreement on cooperation in outer space and cybersecurity (Yomiuri), the applications for TPP membership submitted by China and Taiwan (Asahi), a survey showing Kono is leading in support among LDP lawmakers for the LDP leadership race (Mainichi), Fed Chair Powell’s announcement of a plan to reduce monthly bond purchases as early as November (Nikkei), and an analysis of the Xi Jinping leadership (Sankei).


Quad leaders to agree on cooperation in space, cyberspace

Yomiuri led with a report from Washington claiming it has obtained drafts of the joint statement and related documents to be issued by the leaders of the United States, Japan, Australia, and India at their first in-person Quad summit in Washington on Friday. The paper wrote that the four nations will agree to cooperate in space and cyberspace by sharing satellite data to assess the risks of climate change. They are also planning to establish a new quad discussion forum for officials in charge of cybersecurity.

Foreign ministers of U.S., Japan, South Korea affirm cooperation on North Korea

All national dailies wrote that Secretary of State Blinken, Foreign Minister Motegi, and South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong held a trilateral meeting in New York on Wednesday. The papers wrote that the three officials agreed that their nations will step up cooperation to enhance deterrence against North Korea’s missile launches. The papers also wrote that Motegi reportedly told his U.S. and ROK counterparts that North Korea’s nuclear and missile activities, including the recent ballistic missile launches, pose a threat to Japan, the region, and the international community. According to Yomiuri and Sankei, Motegi requested the cooperation of the United States and South Korea in Japan’s efforts to resolve the issue of North Korea’s abduction of Japanese nationals.

Japan, South Korea at odds over wartime issues but vow to improve ties

Kyodo News reported that Foreign Minister Motegi and his South Korean counterpart Chung Eui-yong met in New York on Thursday but failed to narrow gaps over a host of bilateral issues including wartime compensation. Nevertheless, Motegi and Chung agreed to step up communications including through diplomatic channels so that Japan and South Korea can improve their ties and cooperate in broad areas, MOFA said. The two ministers shared the view that it is necessary "to get Japan-South Korea relations to a normal condition" to move forward on broad cooperation, Motegi told reporters after the meeting. "We had a candid and thorough discussion," he added, noting that the bilateral talks lasted 50 minutes, extending beyond the initially scheduled 30 minutes. NHK also reported this morning on the ministerial meeting, adding that they also exchanged views on North Korea and agreed to continue to work closely toward North Korea’s complete denuclearization.

Japan opposes Russia’s plan to establish tariff-free zone on disputed isles

Kyodo News reported that Foreign Minister Motegi said on Thursday that he told his Russian counterpart Lavrov during their talks in New York that Tokyo cannot accept Moscow's proposal to launch a tariff-free special economic zone in the disputed islands. During their meeting, held on the fringes of the UN General Assembly sessions, Lavrov took up the issue and Motegi repeated Tokyo's position that Japan does not support the scheme as it would involve applying Russian laws to the islands. Motegi told Lavrov that Japan wants to develop its relationship with Russia broadly and mutually, including through efforts to conclude a peace treaty. "We agreed to continue talks by using various opportunities toward broad development of Japan-Russia relations," Motegi told reporters after the meeting. The bilateral meeting was the first in-person session between Motegi and Lavrov in about 19 months.


Taiwan officially announces bid for TPP membership, China voices strong opposition

All national dailies reported extensively on Taiwan’s official announcement on Thursday that it submitted its application to join the TPP on Wednesday. Taipei submitted its application less than a week after China announced its own bid for TPP membership.

Taiwan’s top trade negotiator John Deng said at a news conference on Thursday morning: "China has been obstructing Taiwan's international presence. If China is admitted into the TPP ahead of us, it will definitely pose a risk to Taiwan's entry into the trade bloc.”

Meanwhile, Zhao Lijian, spokesperson for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told reporters on Thursday that China strongly opposes Taiwan's accession to any official agreement or organization. He added that the “One China” principle is a universally recognized norm governing international relations and the consensus of the international community, adding that China firmly opposes all official interactions with Taiwan.

Nikkei wrote that many of the current TPP members have not yet reacted to Taiwan’s bid. However, Foreign Minister Motegi said at an online news conference in the U.S. on Wednesday that Japan welcomes Taiwan's application, adding: "Taiwan shares the fundamental values of freedom, democracy, basic human rights, and the rule of law with us and is an extremely important partner in view of our close economic relationship.” The paper wrote that this remark marked a sharp contrast with Motegi's earlier comment on China's application in which he did not use the word "welcome" and said it is necessary to ascertain whether China is ready to meet the high level of trade liberalization required under the TPP. The paper asserted that the TPP, which was originally established to deter China’s unilateral trade activities, is becoming a stage for competition between liberal countries and authoritarian nations following the bids by China and Taiwan and that Japan bears a heavy responsibility to maintain the group’s free trade spirit in the absence of the United States. The paper wrote that according to a briefing by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Motegi urged the United States to rejoin the TPP at a meeting with Secretary of State Blinken in New York.

Yomiuri and Asahi ran similar reports. Asahi quoted Taiwanese trade negotiator Deng as saying that Taipei took the fact that Japan is chairing the TPP this year into consideration in submitting its application at this juncture since Japan has friendly ties with Taiwan. The paper asserted that Japan holds the key to the discussions on Taiwan’s possible membership. The daily also quoted an unnamed ruling party official as saying Japan is hoping that discussions on the membership of the UK and Taiwan will prompt Washington to consider returning to the TPP.

Nikkei commentator Akita wrote that the function of the TPP in leading the establishment of fair and transparent trade rules could be undermined if the political conflict between China and Taiwan is brought into the regional trade partnership. He also wrote that the unity of the TPP must not be destroyed due to a split between its 11 members over the participation of China and Taiwan. Akita added that it is necessary for the TPP members to thoroughly discuss the issue and that Japan should urge the Biden administration and the U.S. Congress to consider rejoining the trade pact.


U.S. Osprey makes emergency landing at Sendai Airport

Yomiuri and Mainichi wrote that a U.S. military Osprey belonging to Yokota AB in Tokyo made an emergency landing at Sendai Airport at about 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday. According to the Defense Ministry’s Tohoku defense bureau, no injuries have been reported and the aircraft has been moved to a GSDF training site adjacent to the airport. The landing caused a delay in a commercial plane’s landing at the airport. Mainichi wrote that according to the defense bureau, the CV-22 Osprey apparently made a “precautionary” landing due to a possible problem.


Kono, Kishida, Takaichi express positive views on law allowing COVID-19 lockdowns

Nikkei, Yomiuri, Asahi, and Sankei wrote that among the four candidates in the LDP presidential election, Regulatory Reform Minister Kono, former LDP Policy Research Council Chairman Kishida, and former Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Takaichi expressed at an online discussion on Thursday positive views about the idea of enacting a law to allow implementation of emergency lockdowns to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. LDP Executive Acting Secretary-General Noda, the fourth candidate, did not express an opinion on the idea. The papers noted that Prime Minister Suga has expressed a cautious view about the effectiveness of such a measure.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team