JAPAN MEDIA HIGHLIGHTS
Morning Alert   -   Thursday, October 21, 2021
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HEADLINES

Broadcasters led with reports on the crude oil futures price in New York hitting its highest level in about seven years (NHK), the eruption of Mt. Aso yesterday (NTV, TBS, Fuji TV), and the cold weather in Tokyo (TV Asahi).

All national dailies except Asahi gave top play to their projections for the Oct. 31 general election. Asahi led with the results of its joint survey with the University of Tokyo showing that 77% of the general election candidates support fiscal spending as an economic stimulus measure.

INTERNATIONAL

Ambassador-nominee Emanuel stresses strengthened alliance with Japan

Yomiuri and Asahi wrote that former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who has been nominated by President Biden as the next U.S. Ambassador to Japan, said in a written statement submitted to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee ahead of his hearing on Wednesday that the U.S.-Japan partnership is the cornerstone of peace and prosperity in a free and open Indo-Pacific and that if confirmed, his top priority would be to deepen the ties between the United States and Japan while the two nations confront their common challenges.

Kyodo News reported that Ambassador-nominee Emanuel vowed on Wednesday to work to enhance ties between the United States and Japan as China seeks to "conquer through division," while signaling expectations for a possible drastic increase in Japan's defense spending. Kyodo quoted him as saying: "China aims to conquer through division. America's strategy is security through unity. That regional unity is built on the shoulders of the U.S.-Japan alliance.”

Kyodo also said Emanuel welcomed Prime Minister Kishida's support for boosting Japan's defense budget, which the country has kept at around 1% of its GDP. "Willing to go from 1% to 2% is a sea change in thinking," Emanuel told senators, adding it would be a "reflection that they know they have a greater role to play and they have greater threats." He also said U.S.-Japan cooperation not only in the military realm but also in areas such as climate change, infrastructure investment, and intellectual property protection would send a signal to China that America is "strong because of our allies and our unity." China's strategy in its dealings around the world is to ensure a "one-way road to Beijing's benefit," Emanuel said. He added that anything challenging a safe, open and values-based international system "must be met with the united force of all our allies and friends in the region."

Poll shows Chinese people’s impression of Japan worsens

Nikkei, Asahi, Mainichi, and Sankei reported on the results of an annual survey conducted in Japan and China from August to September by the Japan-based Genron NPO and the China International Publishing Group. Of the Chinese respondents, 66.1%, up 13.2 points from last year, said they have an unfavorable or relatively unfavorable impression of Japan, while only 32%, down 13.2 points, said they have favorable feelings toward Japan. Asked why they have a negative impression of Japan, 77.5% said Japan fails to reflect on and apologize for its history of wartime aggression, while 58.7% cited Japan’s nationalization of the Senkaku Islands. Some 23% said Japan is trying to encircle China with the cooperation of the United States.

Of the Japanese respondents, 90.9%, up 1.2 points from a year ago, said they have an unfavorable or relatively unfavorable impression of China, while 9%, down 1 point, said they have favorable feelings toward China. Some 58.7% cited China’s intrusions into Japanese waters and airspace near the Senkaku Islands as the reason for their unfavorable impression of the nation and 49.2% said they feel uneasy about China’s aggressive behavior.

Genron speculated that the Chinese people's sentiment toward Japan might have worsened because the number of Chinese visitors to Japan dropped sharply because of the coronavirus pandemic.

POLITICS

Ruling coalition likely to secure majority of Lower House seats

Nikkei, Yomiuri, Mainichi, and Sankei led with their projections for the general election scheduled for Oct. 31. Nikkei wrote that the ruling LDP and its junior partner Komeito will likely secure more than 233 of the 465 seats in the Lower House. However, the ruling coalition and the opposition bloc are fighting neck-and-neck in the 289 single-seat constituencies. The paper wrote that the results of the election are still difficult to predict because about 20% of voters remain undecided.

Yomiuri wrote that the LDP is fighting an uphill battle against the opposition bloc and that it is still uncertain whether the party will be able to win a simple majority of 233 seats because it may lose some 40 of the 276 seats it held ahead of the dissolution of the Lower House. Mainichi wrote that the LDP is unlikely to retain all 276 seats but will probably be able to secure 233 seats together with Komeito. However, Sankei projected that the LDP may win a simple majority of 233 seats.

Parties fail to present feasible plans for carbon neutrality

Nikkei wrote that although all the political parties fielding candidates in the Oct. 31 general election have pledged to increase Japan's use of renewable energy, they have failed to present feasible plans for achieving its carbon neutrality goals. The paper wrote that Japan has failed to hold in-depth discussions following the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011 on the extent to which the nation will use nuclear power as an energy source and that its renewable energy ratio is less than half those of the UK and Germany.

COVID-19

Tokyo, neighboring prefectures to stop asking bars and restaurants to close early

All national dailies wrote that Saitama, Chiba, and Kanagawa prefectures decided on Wednesday not to extend beyond Oct. 24 their requests for bars and restaurants to stop serving alcohol after 8 p.m. and close at 9 p.m. and allow them to operate according to their regular business hours starting on Oct. 25. Tokyo will likely decide on Thursday to end its operational restrictions on drinking establishments whose COVID-19 prevention and mitigation protocols have been certified but will maintain its requests for non-certified ones. According to the papers, 85% of the bars, restaurants, and other drinking establishments in Tokyo, 73% in Saitama, 80% in Chiba, and 68% in Kanagawa have been certified.

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