JAPAN MEDIA HIGHLIGHTS
Afternoon Alert   -   Wednesday, December 26, 2018
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HEADLINES

Noon news

All TV networks led with reports on Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga's official announcement this morning that the GOJ has decided to quit the International Whaling Commission and will resume commercial whaling beginning in July next year.

INTERNATIONAL

Top ROK diplomat hints at delay of settlement of dispute over requisitioned workers

Nikkei reported online from Seoul on remarks made to a local daily by Foreign Minister Kang, who commented on the diplomatic dispute with Japan over the ROK Supreme Court's ruling ordering Japanese firms to pay redress to Koreans requisitioned to work at their plants during Japan's colonial rule. The ROK official reportedly said that while internal deliberations are underway within the Moon administration on how to deal with the situation, it is still "premature" for the executive branch to take action as judicial proceedings are ongoing. "The executive branch must respect a decision taken by the judiciary under a democratic system that cherishes separation of powers".The foreign ministry is tasked with carefully managing the effect of the judiciary process on Japan-South Korea relations."

As for the dissolution of the Reconciliation and Healing Foundation for former comfort women, Minister Kang expressed hope for continuing discussions with Tokyo on how to handle the one-billion-yen contribution the GOJ extended when the fund was launched in accordance with the 2015 bilateral comfort women accord. The top South Korean diplomat added that the ROK government is planning to convene next year a major international conference on comfort women and other issues related to sexual violence in conflict zones.

Editorial: Mattis resignation raises concerns about lack of check on Trump (The Japan News)

Government approves measures it says will make life easier for foreign workers under new blue-collar visas (The Japan Times)

Japan sinks to No. 3 contributor to U.N. as China rises (Kyodo News)

With six months to go until G20 summit in Osaka, Japan sets out its agenda (The Japan Times)

Japan says S. Korean warship locked radar "multiple times" (Kyodo News)

FOCUS: Quitting whaling commission is risky gambit by Japan (Kyodo News)

Editorial: Quitting the IWC a shortsighted move on the part of Japan (The Asahi Shimbun)

Taiwan, Japan to hold maritime cooperation talks in Tokyo this week (Kyodo News)

Japan pledges support for Indonesia over volcano-caused tsunami (Kyodo News)

Japan's relevant ministers mum on Putin's comments on Northern Territories (Tokyo Shimbun)

Japanese "interested" in DPRK missile program plummets to 60%, Cabinet Office poll (Yomiuri)

ECONOMY

Japan to resume commercial whaling next summer

All broadcasters reported on Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga's press remarks this morning on Japan's withdrawal from the International Whaling Commission, quoting him as saying: "We've been trying to seek a solution over the past 30 years with the goal of undertaking sustainable commercial whaling. However, no concessions have been made by countries that only attach importance to the protection of whale resources. As this year's IWC conference in September reminded us again that it is impossible for those who pursue the sustainable use of whale resources and those who seek their protection to coexist, we've decided to withdraw." As for Japan's plan to restart commercial whaling next July, the government spokesperson said it will be carried out only in Japan's territorial waters and exclusive economic zone but not in the Southern Ocean or the Southern Hemisphere. He added that the total catch will be within the limit adopted previously by the IWC. Suga added that Japan may seek to launch in the future a new multinational framework for whaling separate from the IWC and that Tokyo is hoping to hold a meeting every year with countries that share the goal of sustainable usage of whaling resources.

According to NHK, if within the year Japan notifies the United States, which is the depository government of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, of its plan to leave the commission, it may withdraw on June 30 next year.

The national dailies published similar stories, noting the international community's strong reaction to Japan's withdrawal and expressing doubt about whether in the face of the backlash Japan can resume commercial whaling next year as planned.

Editorial: Stimulus measures bloat FY19 draft budget to over \100 tril. / Road map to fiscal reconstruction blurred (The Japan News)

Editorial: 100 trillion yen draft budget clouds Japan's fiscal future (The Asahi Shimbun)

FOCUS: Japan drags feet on fiscal consolidation (Kyodo News)

Japan govt OKs 2.7-T.-yen extra budget for FY 2018 (Jiji Press)

Editorial: Japan must ditch nuclear plant exports for global trends in renewable energy (The Mainichi)

With TPP in mind, budget allocated for support of farmers (Mainichi)

Japanese, U.S. firms tie up to develop cultured meat (Jiji Press)

Govt compiles guidelines for ESG investments (The Japan News)

Mitsui confirms talks for stake in Russian LNG project (Nikkei Asian Review)

Long-awaited Mitsubishi jet has one last hurdle to clear (Nikkei Asian Review)

5% more Japanese firms operating in India in 2018 (Kyodo News)

Editorial: Fed must take flexible approach to navigate crucial financial phase (The Japan News)

Most Kyoto firms have no plans to add foreign workers, survey finds (The Japan Times)

Editorial: Gov't support package for foreign workers lacks consistency, initiative (The Mainichi)

POLITICS

Osaka leaders to quit to seek voters' verdicts on metropolis initiative

NHK reported that Osaka Governor Matsui and Osaka Mayor Yoshimura have decided to step down together next year to achieve a breakthrough in the stalled "Osaka Metropolis" initiative that they have pursued for years. The two politicians are reportedly inclined to give up their posts and run in the by-elections to be potentially held in April in a bid to ask local voters for a renewed mandate to move forward with the initiative, which is intended to realign the governments of ordinance-designated cities with the prefectural government. The two leaders are reportedly increasingly at odds over the initiative with the local chapter of the Komeito Party, which is strongly opposed to the two officials' desire to hold a referendum on it in July next year.

Prime minister's schedule on Dec. 21, 2018 (Sankei)

Prime minister's schedule on Dec. 22, 2018 (Sankei)

Prime minister's schedule on Dec. 23, 2018 (Sankei)

Prime minister's schedule on Dec. 24, 2018 (Sankei)

Prime minister's schedule on Dec. 25, 2018 (Sankei)

Economy minister Seko tapped to oversee 2025 Osaka Expo (Yomiuri)

Osaka Governor, Mayor mulling moving up elections to April (Jiji Press)

OPINION POLLS

Trend in average cabinet support rate, Saitama University Social Survey Research Center (Saitama University Social Survey Research Center)

SOCIETY

Olympics: 2020 organizers announce unchanged 1.35 tril. yen budget (Kyodo News)

"My husband was tricked," Mrs. Kelly (Yomiuri)

Japan compiles 1st white paper on support measures for ex-cons (Kyodo News)

Estimated No. of babies born in Japan in 2018 drops to record low (Kyodo News)

SECURITY

EXCLUSIVE: AWACS plane use eyed for Izumo after revamp to de facto aircraft carrier (Jiji Press)

Japan wants to sell old F-15s to US to fund F-35 purchases (Nikkei Asian Review)

FOCUS: Okinawan-Hawaiian activist seeks U.S. support in halting air base work (Kyodo News)

Assemblies of 3 Okinawa cities reject referendum-related budgets (Jiji Press)

Editorial: Referendum on base in Okinawa should be open to all voters (The Asahi Shimbun)

Japan to develop communication detection system against malicious programs (The Japan News)

OKINAWA LOCAL PRESS

Civic group filing suit over Ginowan Mayor's boycott of Futenma referendum

Ryukyu Shimpo and Okinawa Times gave prominent coverage to Ginowan Mayor Matsukawa's decision not to participate in the Feb. 24 prefectural referendum on the FRF construction off Camp Schwab, criticizing the municipal leader and the assembly, which refused to fund the local administrative work for the plebiscite, for "depriving local voters of an opportunity" to voice their opinion on a key policy issue. As the municipality hosts MCAS Futenma, the dailies expressed concern that its non-participation will raise doubts about the significance of the vote. A local civic group is reportedly preparing to file a lawsuit against the municipal government so that local residents can participate in the referendum.

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U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team