Afternoon Alert   -   Friday, November 30, 2018
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.


Noon news

NHK led with a report that the finance ministers of the G20 wrapped up their discussions on global economic issues in Buenos Aires on Thursday, saying that they shared the view that the downside risks of the global economy are increasing due to trade friction and other factors. NTV and TBS gave top play to reports on the repercussions of press remarks by Prince Fumihito expressing doubt about whether the government should finance an event to mark the enthronement of the new Emperor because it is a Shinto rite. Fuji TV and TV Asahi led with reports that Hitomi Yoshizawa, a former member of the J-pop group Morning Musume, was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for five years, for injuring two people in a hit-and-run incident in September while driving under the influence of alcohol.


U.S. military conducts freedom of navigation operation in South China Sea

NHK reported this morning that the U.S. military disclosed that it conducted a freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea on Monday. The broadcaster said the operation was aimed at keeping China in check before the U.S.-China summit planned on the sidelines of the G20 Summit that will begin in Argentina on Friday. The network said the U.S. Pacific Fleet told NHK that the USS Chancellorsville conducted a freedom of navigation operation by sailing near the Paracel islands in the South China Sea on Monday. According to the network, the Pacific Fleet stressed that it is determined not to allow China to make unilateral claims of sovereignty over the islands and build military bases there by saying that the operation is aimed at "challenging excessive maritime claims and preserving access to the waterways as governed by international law." While noting that a Chinese destroyer came close to colliding with a U.S. destroyer during a freedom of navigation operation in September, the network said no such incident was observed this time. The network added that two U.S. Navy ships passed through the Taiwan Strait on Nov. 28.

U.S. requested change in DPRK negotiator before planned talks

Yomiuri reported from Seoul on the disclosure by a source involved in U.S.-Japan-ROK relations that just prior to the high-level talks between the U.S. and North Korea slated for New York on Nov. 8., Secretary of State Pompeo asked for the DPRK representative to be changed from Kim Yong Chol to Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho. The Secretary had reportedly come to doubt whether Kim would be suitable as his counterpart since the U.S. official noticed discrepancies between statements made to him by Chairman Kim and those by Kim Yong Chol. According to the source, the scheduled meeting was called off at the last minute because of North Korea's strong reaction to the Secretary's alleged request. While concluding that Kim Yong Chol, a former military general, was standing in the way of bilateral dialogue due to his hard line, the Secretary allegedly called for a switch to the DRPK minister based on the assessment that the professional diplomat would be a reasonable dialogue partner.

The daily speculated that high-level talks between the two conflicting parties are unlikely to be convened anytime soon because the Kim regime is displeased that the Trump administration appears to be taking a wait-and-see attitude while continuing to sanction it. As Pyongyang is allegedly conducting a review of its approach toward Washington, the article claimed it will probably be difficult to arrange a second summit between President Trump and Kim Jong Un early next year.

Breaking down the issue of wartime labor that has rocked Japan-South Korea ties (The Japan Times)

Cartoon: Battle of trade titans (Asahi)

Gov't considers seizing South Korean assets in Japan (Mainichi)

U.S. base presence may affect Japan-Russia island talks (Jiji Press)

The catalyst behind Japan-Russia peace talks (The Japan Times)

Editorial: Gov't must sincerely explain stance on Northern Territories talks with Russia (The Mainichi)


Gov't to provide 1 trillion yen in fiscal loans for improving expressways (Nikkei)

President Trump's hidden agenda behind "high tariffs" on Japanese autos (THEMIS)


Counter-cyberattack capabilities to be explicitly mentioned in National Defense Program Guidelines (Yomiuri)

Defense Minister Iwaya aims to "set direction" for development of next-generation fighter (Nikkei)

Editorial: Japan should draw the line at possessing an aircraft carrier (The Asahi Shimbun)

Gov't provides Henoko with unlimited funds to silence Okinawan people (Tokyo Shimbun)


Prime minister's schedule on Nov. 29, 2018 (Sankei)

Cartoon: Immigrant diner (Mainichi)

LDP mulling submission of constitutional revision proposals on Dec. 6 (Yomiuri)

Editorial: Hold substantive debate on bill to revise immigration control law (The Japan News)


Japan folk rituals approved as UNESCO intangible heritage (Kyodo News)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team