Morning Alert   -   Tuesday, December 14, 2021
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Broadcasters led with reports on Prime Minister Kishida’s remark at the Diet yesterday that the GOJ will allow local municipalities to distribute the 100,000-yen COVID-19 relief payments to families with children in cash (NHK), the murder of a female high school student from Kyoto by a couple (NTV), the first Omicron-related death confirmed in the UK (TBS), the disruption of service on the Tokyu Toyoko line yesterday after a collapsed railroad track was discovered, affecting 63,700 commuters (Fuji TV), and the arrest of a man for vandalizing a store in Nagoya (TV Asahi).

Top stories in national dailies included Prime Minister Kishida’s remarks on the relief payments to families with children (Asahi, Mainichi, Yomiuri), an increase in the use of carbon credits (Nikkei), and the approval by a committee of Tokyo's Musashino city assembly of a draft ordinance aimed at allowing foreign residents to vote in local referendums (Sankei).


G7, ASEAN share concern over China

All national dailies reported on the expanded G7 foreign ministerial meeting on Sunday in Liverpool, the UK, which foreign ministers from ASEAN nations were invited to attend. The participants confirmed that a free and open Indo-Pacific benefits them and shared concerns about China’s maritime advancement. According to the papers, Foreign Minister Hayashi expressed his readiness to act as a bridge between the G7 and ASEAN, telling reporters on Sunday that ASEAN’s participation in the meeting was significant and that ASEAN holds the key to achieving a free and open Indo-Pacific. However, Mainichi wrote that the ASEAN nations’ responses to China vary depending on their historical and economic relations with Beijing.

Foreign Minister Hayashi speaks briefly with South Korean counterpart

All national dailies wrote that Foreign Minister Hayashi held a brief conversation with his South Korean counterpart Chung Eui-yong on the sidelines of the G7 foreign ministerial meeting in Liverpool on Saturday. This was the first time for the two foreign ministers to hold talks. According to Japan's Foreign Ministry, the two ministers briefly chatted at an informal dinner party for the G7 foreign ministers, and Hayashi asked Chung to have South Korea take "appropriate steps" to resolve the bilateral disputes involving the issues of comfort women and requisitioned workers. Hayashi and Chung also confirmed the importance of bilateral and trilateral cooperation with United States in dealing with North Korea and agreed on the need to accelerate diplomatic dialogue between Tokyo and Seoul to restore healthy bilateral ties

Japanese, Australian foreign ministers agree to step up security cooperation

Asahi and Nikkei wrote that Foreign Minister Hayashi and his Australian counterpart Payne agreed at their meeting on Saturday in Liverpool that their nations will step up security cooperation to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific and confirmed the importance of the Quad framework.

Ruling, opposition lawmakers call for diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics

Asahi wrote that in response to the Biden administration’s decision not to send government officials to the Beijing Winter Olympics in February, ruling and opposition lawmakers called on the government on Monday to follow the U.S.’s lead. LDP Foreign Affairs Division chief Sato Masahisa said Japan should swiftly express its position on the matter and implement a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Games. Japanese Communist Party Chairman Shii Kazuo issued a statement on Monday saying the GOJ should call on the Chinese government to stop violating human rights and abide by the Olympic Charter.

Kishida to seek improvement of Japan’s overseas rescue operations

Nikkei and Asahi wrote that Prime Minister Kishida said at a Lower House Budget Committee session on Monday that he will consider revising the SDF law to improve Japan’s rescue operations overseas following the SDF operation in Afghanistan in August that was aimed at evacuating around 500 people wishing to leave Afghanistan, including local citizens who worked for the Japanese Embassy and other Japanese agencies. The GOJ was criticized for failing to achieve the goal due to legal restrictions on SDF operations that caused a delay in dispatching SDF personnel and aircraft to Afghanistan.

FM Hayashi plays “Imagine” on piano at Beatles museum in Liverpool

Mainichi wrote that Foreign Minister Hayashi gave an impromptu piano rendition of John Lennon's "Imagine" at the "The Beatles Story" museum in Liverpool when the G7 foreign ministers toured the museum before having dinner on Saturday. A press pool photo showed the foreign ministers smiling and clapping while Hayashi sat at a replica of Lennon’s white piano.


30% of land reclamation work at Henoko completed

Yomiuri wrote that today marks three years since the Ministry of Defense started pouring earth at the land reclamation site for the construction of the Futenma Replacement Facility at Henoko. The paper wrote that the reclamation work has been gradually proceeding and nearly 30% of it has now been completed. However, due to strong opposition from the Okinawa Prefectural Government, there has been little progress in most of the area where additional work to reinforce the soft seabed is necessary.


U.S., Japan, Australia to build 5G networks in South Pacific

Mainichi wrote that the United States, Japan, and Australia have decided to jointly fund the development of advanced 5G telecommunications networks in the South Pacific to hedge against the possibility of China seizing control of critical infrastructure in the region. The trilateral cooperation in 5G network development will be achieved through the Pacific operations of Digicel Group, an international mobile phone network and home entertainment provider headquartered in Jamaica. NEC and other Japanese companies will provide advanced equipment for 5G that offers the advantage of "Open RAN," industry-wide standards that enable interoperability between different vendors for cellular wireless networks.

Separately, the three nations announced on Sunday that they will help with construction of a new undersea cable to improve Internet connectivity to the Pacific island nations of Micronesia, Nauru, and Kiribati. Nikkei wrote that last year’s bids for the project were invalidated because the United States, Japan, and Australia raised security concerns over the bidding in which a Chinese company had tendered the lowest bid. The United States, Japan, and Australia will provide funds to a consortium of carriers from the three Pacific island nations.

South Korea to apply for TPP membership

All national dailies wrote that South Korea’s Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said at a meeting of Cabinet ministers on external economic affairs on Monday that the country’s government will begin the process of joining the TPP free trade deal. Hong reportedly said that given the changing economic order in the Asia-Pacific where China and Taiwan have applied for TPP membership, it has become difficult to keep the discussions on the matter within the government.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team