Morning Alert   -   Wednesday, November 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 a GOJ decision to release petroleum from its national strategic reserve in coordination with the United States and other countries (NHK and TBS), the arrest of a 37-year-old woman on Tuesday on charges of drowning her three-year-old son in Kyoto four years ago (NTV), footage showing a quarrel over a barbecue in a residential district of Osaka last month (TV Asahi), and a small fire at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka yesterday (Fuji TV).

All national dailies except Mainichi led with reports on the United States’ announcement on Tuesday of its plan to release 50 million barrels of oil from its strategic reserve in coordination with Japan, China, India, South Korea, and the UK. Mainichi gave top play to a report on Japan’s planned increase in its spending for hosting U.S. troops next year.


Kishida holds teleconferences with Thai, Singaporean counterparts

Tuesday’s Nikkei wrote that Prime Minister Kishida held separate teleconferences with Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Monday. The paper wrote that Kishida expressed Japan’s strong opposition to unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the South and East China Seas and agreed to work together with his Thai and Singaporean counterparts to achieve a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Japan, South Korean remain apart over bilateral disputes

The Tuesday editions of all national dailies wrote that MOFA Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau Director General Funakoshi Takehiro and his South Korean counterpart Lee Sang-ryol held talks in Seoul on Monday. The papers wrote that during the two-hour talks, the two nations remained apart over such issues as the comfort women and compensation for requisitioned Korean workers. According to the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Funakoshi urged South Korea to come up with a solution that would be acceptable for Japan on the requisitioned worker issue, but Lee offered no ideas.

Funakoshi reiterated Japan’s protest over the South Korean national police chief’s landing on the Takeshima Islands on Nov. 16 by saying the visit was totally unacceptable. However, according to the South Korean Foreign Ministry, Lee rejected Japan’s protest by saying Seoul can by no means accept any Japanese claims on the matter.

Funakoshi also met with Noh Kyu-duk, South Korea's Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs, and discussed issues related to North Korea, including South Korea’s idea of declaring an end to the Korean War.

FM Hayashi holds teleconference with Indian counterpart

Tuesday’s Yomiuri, Mainichi, and Sankei wrote that Foreign Minister Hayashi spoke by phone with his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar for about 20 minutes on Monday. The papers wrote that the two officials agreed that their nations will work together bilaterally and under the Quad framework to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific and oppose any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force in the South and East China Seas and economic coercion. The foreign ministers also agreed to arrange a visit to India by Prime Minister Kishida and a 2+2 meeting of their foreign and defense ministers.

FM Hayashi holds talks with visiting Paraguay counterpart

Tuesday’s Yomiuri wrote that Foreign Minister Hayashi held in-person talks with his Paraguay counterpart Euclides Acevedo in Tokyo on Monday. The paper wrote that the two officials agreed to accelerate negotiations on an investment accord between their nations and that Hayashi pledged Japan’s support for infrastructure development in Paraguay. The foreign ministers also agreed that their nations will work together to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific.

FM Hayashi’s diplomatic activities get underway

Wednesday’s Sankei wrote that Foreign Minister Hayashi has kicked off his diplomatic activities by holding teleconferences with Secretary of State Blinken and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang and making arrangements to attend the upcoming WTO and G7 ministerial meetings. The paper wrote that although Hayashi is regarded as pro-China, he also has developed close ties with the United States through graduate study at Harvard and other opportunities. The paper wrote that Hayashi contributed to the establishment of a training program that was later developed into the Mansfield Fellowship Program during his internship at the office of a U.S. senator.

U.S. concerned about China’s use of friendship groups with Japan for political ends

Tuesday’s Sankei ran a column by Washington correspondent Komori Yoshihisa in which he claimed that concern in the United States that the Chinese Communist Party would use the Japan-China Friendship Parliamentarians' Union as a venue for political maneuvering toward Japan was behind Foreign Minister Hayashi’s resignation as the head of the parliamentary group. Komori said the Jamestown Foundation released a report titled “A Preliminary Survey of CCP Influence Operations in Japan” in June 2019, expressing concern that the CCP engages in influence operations through seven friendship groups with Japan. The journalist also said the Defense Intelligence Agency released a research report in January 2019 titled “China Military Power,” which also expressed concern that the PLA may use the friendship groups for its political warfare against Japan.

Australia to ease restrictions on entry of Japanese travelers

Tuesday’s Yomiuri wrote that the Australian government announced on Monday that it will ease its existing entry restrictions on Japanese travelers who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Starting on Dec. 1, travelers from Japan will be allowed to enter New South Wales, Victoria, and the Australian Capital Territory without self-quarantining if they provide proof of vaccination and negative PCR test results. The same entry rules will apply to travelers from South Korea.


Japan to increase host nation support for U.S. troops

Wednesday’s Mainichi led with a report saying it has learned from a GOJ source that the governments of the United States and Japan are making arrangements to increase Japan’s share of the cost of hosting U.S. troops in fiscal 2022 to more than 250 billion yen ($2.17 billion) from 201.7 billion yen ($1.75 billion) in fiscal 2021. The paper wrote that the additional amount of more than 50 billion yen ($434 million) would represent the largest annual increase following the 30.4 billion yen ($246 million) marked in fiscal 1993. The paper speculated that the GOJ is planning to increase its host nation support for American troops based on the judgment that strengthened cooperation with the U.S. forces in Japan is indispensable in light of China’s military buildup. The paper conjectured that although the GOJ has taken a cautious stance on substantially increasing its contribution to the cost of hosting U.S. troops due to its tight budget up until now, it will agree to shoulder a larger share in view of the changing security environment surrounding Japan. The paper noted that Japan’s largest contribution to date was 275.6 billion yen ($2.39 billion) in fiscal 1999 and speculated that the nation may pay more than that in fiscal 2022. Wednesday’s Asahi ran a similar report.

Defense chief voices strong concern about Sino-Russo flight operations near Japan

NHK reported online on remarks made to the press on Tuesday by Defense Minister Kishi, who expressed “grave concern” about the joint flights around the Japanese archipelago by a fleet of four Chinese and Russian bombers last week. “It clearly points to the increasingly severe security environment surrounding Japan,” the cabinet official was quoted as saying. “We are deeply concerned. The repeated joint training by the two militaries was probably intended to be a show of force against Japan. The possibility that they will continue to deepen their military coordination cannot be ruled out.”

Japanese, Vietnamese defense chiefs oppose China’s attempts to change status quo

The Wednesday editions of all national dailies wrote that Defense Minister Kishi and his Vietnamese counterpart Phan Van Giang met in Tokyo on Tuesday and shared the view that their nations strongly oppose unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force with China’s military activities in South China Sea in mind. The defense chiefs also agreed to accelerate talks on Japan’s exports of warships and other defense equipment to Vietnam based on a bilateral agreement they signed in September on the transfer of defense equipment and technology. The two also signed agreements on cybersecurity and military medicine. Kishi told reporters after the meeting that Japan and Vietnam agreed to more actively contribute to peace and stability in the region and the international community under a new level of defense cooperation. According to Yomiuri, Kishi criticized the recent joint flights by Chinese and Russian bombers over the East China Sea by saying Japan has serious concern about the flights from the viewpoint of national security.

Japan to conclude reciprocal access agreement with Australia

Wednesday’s Nikkei wrote that Japan is making arrangements to sign an agreement with Australia next year that would make it easier for each of the countries’ forces to enter the other for joint exercises. The paper wrote that the reciprocal access agreement would streamline both countries' complex entry procedures for foreign defense forces and equipment, which have become increasingly burdensome as the two engage in more joint exercises, and that the two nations are hoping that the new pact will help increase their joint exercises. Noting that the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement exempts American troops deployed in Japan from certain entry requirements, the paper wrote that the new agreement with Australia would be the first of its kind for Japan to sign with another country besides the United States and that Tokyo is hoping to use the new pact with Australia as a template for similar quasi-alliances with other nations beyond the United States.

Court approves power harassment appeal by Japanese employee at Atsugi AB

Tuesday’s Asahi wrote that the Tokyo District Court partially approved on Monday an appeal by a former Japanese employee at Naval Air Facility Atsugi in which she sought 38 million yen ($331,000) in damages from the Japanese government over power harassment by her American supervisor. The court ordered the GOJ to pay 550,000 yen ($4,792) to the plaintiff by judging that the supervisor infringed on the plaintiff’s personal rights by reprimanding her with insulting language. The court determined that the GOJ is liable for damages to Japanese nationals working at U.S. bases in Japan because it employs them. According to the plaintiff’s counsel, this was the first time for a Japanese court to acknowledge power harassment of a Japanese employee at a U.S. base. The plaintiff, a woman in her 60s who worked at a division that provides support services to U.S. servicemembers and their dependents, claimed that she had developed an adjustment disorder due to power harassment by her female supervisor in 2013 and quit in 2016 after being absent from work.


CDPJ leadership candidates call for suspension of Futenma relocation to Henoko

Wednesday’s Yomiuri reported on a debate held among the four candidates running in the leadership election of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan that was held on Tuesday in Fukuoka. The paper wrote that all four candidates acknowledged that the U.S.-Japan alliance is the foundation of Japan’s foreign affairs and security but called for the suspension of the Futenma base function’s relocation to Henoko. Three of them also said the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement needs to be reviewed.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team