Afternoon Alert   -   Friday, December 14, 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 and TV Asahi led with comprehensive reports on the start of earth-pouring operations at the Henoko landfill site this morning, with video footage of the reclamation site and fierce protests being staged outside the gate of Camp Schwab and at sea. Governor Tamaki was quoted voicing "strong indignation" at a news conference at the government's decision to start pouring earth despite his appeal to Defense Minister Iwaya and Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga yesterday. Iwaya and Suga were quoted as telling reporters that Henoko relocation remains the only way to reduce Okinawa's base-hosting burden while maintaining deterrence. Iwaya reportedly also admitted that the plan to return MCAS Futenma by 2022 is now at a "difficult stage." All other TV networks gave prominent coverage to this "critical" development in the Henoko relocation process, predicting heightened tensions between Tokyo and Okinawa over this issue.

TBS, NTV, and Fuji TV led with the Yokohama District Court's sentencing of the suspect in a prominent road rage case in June 2017 to 18 years in prison on charges of dangerous driving resulting in death and injury.


Diet group meets ROK president, calls for "appropriate" response to forced labor issue

NHK reported online that a delegation of the suprapartisan Japan-ROK parliamentary union led by former Finance Minister Nukaga met with President Moon this morning and asked that his government deal with the ROK court rulings on former requisitioned workers appropriately since they run counter to the bilateral agreement on World War II claims. Moon was quoted as saying: "While the court rulings need to be respected, the government is discussing a response that attaches importance to the future-oriented relationship between the two countries." Moon also reportedly said that he has raised Japan's abduction issue twice with the DPRK's Kim Jong Un and that a Japan-DPRK summit needs to take place at some point.

MOFA's FY2019 budget to exceed 700 billion yen for first time in three years (Sankei)

FM Kono to visit Qatar (Yomiuri)

Editorial: Kono's rebuff of media questions raises even more questions (The Asahi Shimbun)

Editorial: Foreign minister dodging press questions on Northern Territories problematic (The Mainichi)


Amazon Japan, Mercari join Keidanren

NHK reported this afternoon that Amazon Japan and major marketplace app provider Mercari became members of Keidanren as of today. NHK observed that Keidanren is now accepting members from the service and IT industries in an effort to enhance its presence amid changes in the industrial structure.

Gist of FY 2019 tax reform package approved by ruling parties (Kyodo News)

INTERVIEW: Ex-USTR official expects vehicle quota on Japan (Jiji Press)

Companies focusing capital investment on autos, 5G, and other growth industries, Nikkei survey of capital investment in FY2018 (NIKKEI Business Daily)

Japan Post to invest $2.6bn to make U.S. insurer Aflac an affiliate (Nikkei Asian Review)

Current economic expansion confirmed as 2nd longest in postwar Japan (Kyodo News)

Marubeni invests in U.S. start-up developing self-driving delivery services (NIKKEI Business Daily)


Prime minister's schedule on Dec. 13, 2018 (Sankei)

LDP Hosoda faction makes strategic preparation for post-Abe leadership (Sankei)

Gov't OKs 7 tril. yen infrastructure plan to deal with disasters (Kyodo News)


Japan starts full-fledged landfill work to move U.S. base in Okinawa (Kyodo News)

Japan plans to call for building of "multidimensional" defense force (Kyodo News)

Japan's F-35 orders to lift defense spending to new heights (Nikkei Asian Review)

Ruling bloc OKs "Izumo" destroyer as aircraft carrier (Yomiuri)

Okinawa's last-minute plea to stop landfill work for U.S. base fails (Kyodo News)

SoftBank to remove existing Huawei equipment amid security concerns (Nikkei Asian Review)

Editorial: U.S., China enter new phase in competing for technological hegemony (Mainichi)

Okinawa school kids flee 700 times from U.S. aircraft (Jiji Press)


Japan space venture to launch satellite for artificial meteor shower (Kyodo News)


Int'l romancing scammers identify themselves as "U.S. servicemen" (Nikkei, Evening edition)

Cartoon: Year of misfortune (Asahi)

174 foreign technical interns die in Japan in 2010-2017: ministry (Kyodo News)


Okinawa to bring to Supreme Court case on permit for rock reef destruction

Okinawa Times wrote in a front-page article that the Okinawa prefectural government has decided to file an appeal with the Supreme Court by Dec. 19 on a Fukuoka High Court verdict dismissing Okinawa's insistence that the central government is required to obtain a permit from the prefectural government for destroying rock reefs off Camp Schwab when moving forward with FRF construction. Earlier this month the court of appeals ruled against the prefectural government, which called for the suspension of the construction operations on account of the absence of such a permit.

Gist of Iwaya's press remarks after his meeting with Okinawa Gov. Tamaki (Okinawa Times)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team