Afternoon Alert   -   Tuesday, December 11, 2018
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Noon news

NHK and NTV led with reports on a speech given by Kyoto University Distinguished Professor Tasuku Honjo, 2018 Nobel Prize laureate for physiology or medicine, at the Nobel Prize banquet last night in Stockholm, where he called on more scientists to participate in cancer immunotherapy research so that "everyone on our planet can benefit" from this treatment. TV Asahi and Fuji TV gave top coverage to the cold weather nationwide today, with the Tokyo area recording the coldest morning of the season. TBS's lead story was a traffic accident in Nagoya yesterday in which a woman under the influence of alcohol was arrested for a hit-and-run accident that injured two grade school students


U.S. sanctions DPRK officials for human rights abuse

Nikkei and Yomiuri reported online on a Treasury Department announcement on Monday that three North Korean officials, including the Kim regime's No. 2 man Choe Ryong Hae, have been designated additional targets of its financial sanctions because of their involvement in what Secretary Mnuchin called "flagrant and egregious abuses" of human rights and fundamental freedom in the reclusive state. Speculating that the step was taken to demonstrate the Trump administration's determination to maintain the pressure on North Korea to achieve its denuclearization, the dailies said Pyongyang is bound to react sharply.

Nikkei took up a comment on the latest U.S. sanctions on the DPRK by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga, who said: "We welcome the U.S.'s posture of addressing issues of human rights and humanitarian issues in North Korea" We understand that it is meant to display strong U.S. concern about human rights violations."

Beijing court sentences Japanese man to 12 years in prison for spying

NHK reported this morning that on Dec. 10 a court in Beijing sentenced a 73-year-old man from Hokkaido to 12 years in prison plus the confiscation of his assets worth 200,000 yuan (approximately 3.27 million yen) for involvement in espionage in 2015 without specifying the offenses he was guilty of. He is the fourth Japanese national to be sentenced to imprisonment for spying in China since 2015.

Former FM: Stepping into Putin's ring is risky bet for Japan (Yomiuri)

As Japan, ROK turn their backs to each other, reconciliation recedes into the distance (Asahi)


Trump administration reportedly dubs trade talks with Japan "USJTA"

Asahi reported online on a hearing organized by the USTR in Washington on Monday concerning the upcoming trade talks with Japan, highlighting remarks made at the onset by Assistant USTR Beeman, who described the agreement that Washington aims to reach with Tokyo as a "U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement" (USJTA). The daily said this differs from "trade agreement on goods" (TAG), the term used by Japan. Participants from various industrial organizations reportedly urged the Trump administration to get Japan to open up its market to American imports. U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Senior Vice President Charles Freeman reportedly emphasized that the two governments should conclude a "comprehensive pact that is not limited to tariff reductions."

Editorial: Many challenges to increasing foreign workers under new law / Help needed for social adaptation (The Japan News)

FSA to request financial institutions to classify all customers based on risk of money laundering (Nikkei)


LDP plans to submit constitutional revision proposals to regular Diet session next year

NHK reported online on comments made by LDP Executive Acting Secretary General Hagiuda at a news conference this morning that the party's failure to submit its constitutional revision proposals on four issues, including provisions on the SDF, at the extraordinary Diet session that adjourned on Dec. 10 was "extremely regrettable." He stressed that the LDP will aim at submitting the proposals to the regular Diet session that will convene in January next year.

Prime minister's schedule on Dec. 9, 2018 (Sankei)

Prime minister's schedule on Dec. 10, 2018 (Sankei)

Gist of PM Abe's press conference, Dec. 10 (Yomiuri)

Editorial: Abe's cavalier attitude is killing Diet's watchdog role over power (The Asahi Shimbun)

Abe's handling of diplomacy, immigration and constitutional revision fueling anti-Abe sentiment within LDP and beyond (THEMIS)


Cabinet and political party support rates, NHK public opinion poll (NHK)

Cabinet support rate drops to 43%, Sankei-FNN poll (Sankei)


Gov't decides to revise road map under basic space plan to participate in U.S.-led lunar exploration

NHK reported online that the government's Strategic Headquarters for Space Policy met at the Kantei this morning and decided to revise the road map under the Basic Plan for Space Policy up to 2024. The revised road map will enable Japan to be involved in technical development and coordination with other countries for the U.S.'s plan for the construction of a space station orbiting the moon and for manned lunar exploration.


Waseda's newly elected president aims to make university a top-notch global draw for scholars (The Japan Times)


DM Iwaya plans to meet with Okinawa governor before earth pouring operations start at Henoko

NHK reported this afternoon that in light of Okinawa Governor Tamaki's plan to visit Tokyo to meet with relevant officials on Okinawa's opposition to the government's plan to start pouring earth into the Henoko landfill site on Dec. 14, Defense Minister Iwaya stated today that he is willing to meet with Tamaki at the Defense Ministry as soon as Thursday if his schedule allows to try to obtain his understanding for the steady implementation of the Henoko relocation plan, which is ultimately aimed at returning MCAS Futenma to eliminate the danger it poses. He reiterated that the government is making all necessary preparations to start earth-pouring operations on Dec. 14 as planned, weather conditions permitting.

SDF ends search for five missing crew members from U.S. military aircraft collision

NHK reported online this afternoon that the SDF has decided to end its search for the five missing crew members of the Iwakuni-based KC-130 air tanker that collided with an FA-18 fighter over waters off Kochi Prefecture on Dec. 6. Although the SDF has participated in the search for the five service members with U.S. Forces and the Japan Coast Guard, it ended the operation as of 6:00 a.m. today after coordinating with U.S. Forces Japan. NHK said the Defense Ministry has asked the USFJ for an explanation of the cause and circumstances of this accident.

Osaka drafts ordinance banning drones near G20 Summit venue next year

NHK reported online this afternoon that the Osaka prefectural government has drawn up an ordinance that will ban the flying of drones in the vicinity of the venue of the G20 Summit on June 28-29, 2019, at the INTEX OSAKA international convention center in Suminoe Ward, Osaka City, as well as the vicinity of Kansai International Airport. The ban will be in effect for one month until the end of the summit on June 29 and additional areas near the hotels and locations to be visited by the G20 leaders may also be added to the no-fly zones later.

Gov't, LDP downgrading "multi-purpose destroyer" Izumo's capabilities to win Komeito's support

NHK reported this morning that in light of Komeito's refusal on three occasions to approve of the refurbishing of the Izumo into a "multi-purpose destroyer" with aircraft carrier capabilities in the new National Defense Program Guidelines (NDPG), the government and the LDP are planning to propose to the ruling parties' NDPG working team shortly that the Izumo will not carry a permanent F-35B fighter contingent and that logistical support and maintenance for the fighters will not be on par with an attack aircraft carrier in an effort to win Komeito's support. NHK said Komeito claims the difference between this "multi-purpose destroyer" and an attack aircraft carrier is not clear. Japan is prohibited from possessing an aircraft carrier under the Constitution.

Japan gov't to exclude Huawei, ZTE from procurement (Jiji Press)

Japan's 4 carriers to shun Chinese 5G tech (Nikkei Asian Review)

Japan's SDF mulling new training units for women (Jiji Press)

ASDF airplanes to visit Pacific islands (Yomiuri)


Ginowan mayor calls on GOJ to discuss reduction of base-hosting burden

Okinawa Times wrote that Ginowan Mayor Matsukawa asked Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga during their meeting at the Kantei on Monday to host a meeting to discuss ways to reduce the base-hosting burden on the municipality, including the suspension of operations at the Futenma Air Station, at an early date. The paper wrote that Suga responded positively to the request. The paper noted that the two parties have not held such a meeting since July 2016. Commenting on the recent visits at Futenma of FA-18 combat fighters and F-35 stealth fighters from outside Okinawa since November, the mayor called on the cabinet spokesman to ask the U.S. side to stop sending the aircraft to reduce the base-hosting burden on Ginowan. The mayor also asked the GOJ to set aside in the fiscal 2019 budget funding for the planned relocation of the University of the Ryukyus School of Medicine to a site formerly used for the Nishi-Futenma housing area. Ryukyu Shimpo ran a similar report.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team