Morning Alert   -   Thursday, October 7, 2021
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Broadcasters led with reports on the finding that PM Kishida is planning to stress in his first policy speech to be delivered on Friday the need for all Cabinet members Cabinet to listen to the voices of the people (NHK), complaints on social media about being “forced” to return to the office after the lifting of the state of emergency (NTV), a how-to guide for attending large-scale events after the lifting of the state of emergency (TBS), and a press conference held by the Japan Pension Service over an incident in which it sent erroneous notices of pension payments to about 970,000 people in Aichi, Mie, and Fukuoka (Fuji TV, TV Asahi).

Top stories in national dailies included a behind-the-scenes story about Kishida’s victory in the LDP presidential election (Asahi), the GOJ’s feasibility test for easing the COVID restrictions on major sports and other events (Mainichi), excess COVID-19 vaccine doses held by advanced nations that are at risk of expiring (Nikkei), a surge in gasoline prices (Yomiuri), and Tokyo prosecutors’ plan to probe a possible breach of trust case involving a member of Nihon University's executive board (Sankei).


Abductees’ families concerned about Kishida Cabinet’s commitment to abductions

Sankei wrote that although Prime Minister Kishida expressed his determination to resolve the issue of North Korea’s abductions of Japanese nationals by saying that it is his top foreign policy priority at his inaugural news conference on Monday as well as during his telephone conversation with the families of the abductees on Tuesday, there are concerns among the family members that the Kishida Cabinet lacks people like former Prime Ministers Abe and Suga who are well versed in the long-standing issue. Although Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno is in charge of the abduction issue, the families said that they have had no opportunity to meet with him in person.

Public support for LDP rebounds to over 50%

Nikkei wrote that 51% of respondents supported the LDP in its latest public opinion survey conducted following the launch of the Kishida cabinet on Monday. This is the first time in a year that support for the LDP exceeded 50%. According to the paper, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan was supported by only 8% of pollees, and the gap in support between the LDP and largest opposition party, 43 points, was the largest since 2002. The paper wrote that despite the increase in support for the party, LDP lawmakers are not optimistic about their prospects in the general election slated for later this month because public support for the Kishida cabinet, at 59%, was not as high as they had expected, and cabinet support indicates nonaffiliated voters’ support for LDP policies.


Cabinet spokesman mum on details of DPRK ship detected in Japan’s EEZ

Nikkei and Yomiuri wrote that Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno told reporters on Wednesday that the Japan Coast Guard spotted what appeared to be an armed North Korean ship in the Yamatotai fishing grounds located within Japan's EEZ in late June. In response to an earlier press report that the ship was a North Korean government vessel armed with a mobile anti-aircraft missile, Matsuno said that the GOJ did not describe the vessel in detail in order not to reveal Japan’s ability to collect and analyze sensitive information.

Russia conducts missile interception drills in Sea of Japan

Yomiuri wrote that the Russian Pacific Fleet announced on Tuesday that it conducted missile interception drills in the Sea of Japan but did not disclose the specific location of the exercises. The Russian fleet said that an air-defense missile fired by a corvette successfully destroyed a missile launched by a hypothetical enemy. According to the Japan Coast Guard, Russia told Japan that it had canceled its live fire exercise planned for the east side of the Yamatotai fishing grounds located within Japan's EEZ starting on Oct. 4, but later said that it would go ahead with the drills in the same area. The paper speculated that Russia may carry out other drills near Japan’s EEZ in the future.


Rengo selects first female leader

All national dailies wrote that the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, also known as Rengo, selected Yoshino Tomoko as its new president on Wednesday. This is the first time for Japan's largest labor organization since its establishment in 1989 to select a woman president. Yoshino, who leads a labor union mainly representing small and medium-sized manufacturers, will serve a two-year term. The papers wrote that the union’s approach to the coming general election is an immediate challenge for Yoshino because although Rengo has decided to back both the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ) and the Democratic Party for the People in the coming election, some Rengo members strongly oppose the CDPJ’s cooperation with the Japanese Community Party.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team