Afternoon Alert   -   Tuesday, December 18, 2018
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Noon news

NHK, TV Asahi, TBS, and Fuji TV led with follow-up reports on the explosion and fire in Sapporo on Sunday, reporting that the real estate agency that caused the explosion has issued an apology on its website. NTV gave top coverage to the government's decision to propose a record-high budget of 101.4 trillion yen for FY2019.

All TV networks also reported prominently on the cabinet's approval of the new National Defense Program Guidelines and the Mid-Term Defense Program this morning, which call for the procurement of F-35B fighters, the renovation of the Izumo destroyer to introduce aircraft carrier functions, and capabilities to respond to threats in space and cyberspace as well as electromagnetic waves and other new domains, with total defense spending in the next five years set at a record-high 27.47 trillion yen.


Russia building housing units for soldiers in Northern Territories

Citing a TASS Russian News Agency dispatch on Dec. 17, NHK reported this morning that the Russian Defense Ministry has built four new apartment buildings for military personnel stationed on the islands of Etorofu and Kunashiri in the Northern Territories. The housing units are reportedly due to be occupied by 188 families next week. TASS said that the ministry is also planning to build similar housing units in two locations on Etorofu and one location on Kunashiri, as well as construct or renovate more than 200 facilities for both military personnel and civilians next year. NHK observed that this move is meant to put pressure on Japan ahead of the Japan-Russia summit in January.

Editorial: Japan, South Korea need multilayered diplomatic approach to break impasse (The Mainichi)

Editorial: Law, rules needed to solve U.S.-China showdown (Asahi)

Lavrov urges Japan to accept outcome of WWII (Jiji Press)

Russia builds housing for troops on disputed Pacific islands (Jiji Press)


LDP Secretary General Nikai released from hospital, resumes political activities

NHK reported online on Monday evening that LDP Secretary General Nikai, who was hospitalized on Dec. 10 for symptoms of high blood pressure and to undergo a thorough physical examination, checked out of the hospital earlier in the day. He has reportedly received a clean bill of health. Nikai met with Diet members at the party headquarters yesterday evening and is scheduled to attend a LDP executive meeting today.

Prime minister's schedule on Dec. 17, 2018 (Sankei)

Abe administration rushes to rebuild after cabinet support rate drops (Mainichi)

CDPJ close to its goal of setting up "40 prefectural chapters" (Asahi)


PM Abe stresses importance of enhancing coast guard capabilities in light of China's activities near Senkakus

NHK reported this afternoon that at a meeting of ministers involved in enhancing the capabilities of the Japan Coast Guard (JCG) at the Kantei today, Prime Minister Abe stressed that in light of China sending bigger and more heavily armed government ships to waters near the Senkaku Islands, Japan will make every effort to cooperate with the U.S. and other countries to maintain maritime security. JCG Commandant Iwanami reported that the number of North Korean boats found drifting near Japan this year was double that of last year. Abe was quoted as saying that the maritime security regime needs to be reinforced in response to "repeated intrusions by foreign government ships near the Senkakus and the violation of fishing rights by foreign fishing boats." He also stated: "It is important to establish an international maritime order in cooperation with other countries in order to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific."

Japan eyes aircraft carrier deployment, cyber defense boost in 10 yrs (Kyodo News)

Gist of Japan's new defense guidelines, midterm buildup program (Kyodo News)

Japan, U.S. reaffirm collaboration in joint nuclear disaster prevention drill (Kanagawa Shimbun)

Gov't to exclude Huawei, briefing set for next month (Sankei)

Japan to prioritize long-range missiles for island defense (Jiji Press)


JFE Steel eyes more investment in foreign affiliate (Nikkei)


Japan comes 110th in WEF gender equality rankings (Jiji Press)

U.S. sailors participate in road safety campaign (Kanagawa Shimbun)


Kyodo News opinion poll & results from Tokyo Shimbun (Tokyo Shimbun)

Opinion poll & results from Mainichi Shimbun (Mainichi)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team