Afternoon Alert   -   Thursday, January 17, 2019
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Noon news

All TV networks led with reports on volcanic eruptions on Kuchinoerabu Island in Kagoshima Prefecture since this morning. While the flow of lava and ash has not reached inhabited areas of the island and there have been no report of injuries, the Japan Meteorological Agency is maintaining the volcano warning level at 3 on a scale of 5 and has banned entry into an area within a radius of 2 km from the crater.


Kono, Pompeo speak by phone on second U.S.-DPRK summit

NHK reported online this afternoon that Foreign Minister Kono and Secretary of State Pompeo held a 10-minute teleconference this morning in which they confirmed close bilateral cooperation in light of the impending high-level U.S.-DPRK talks in preparation for a second U.S.-DPRK summit. Pompeo reportedly briefed Kono on the upcoming talks and gave him an update on the preparations for the summit. They also discussed both countries' response to North Korea and reconfirmed that it is important for them to cooperate for the full implementation of UN resolutions to achieve North Korea's complete denuclearization. NHK noted that the DPRK leader's close aide, Workers' Party of Korea Vice Chairman Kim Yong Chol, is likely to arrive in Washington for talks with Pompeo later today to make final arrangements for the summit and that the Japanese Foreign Ministry intends to share information and continue to cooperate with the U.S. following the high-level talks.

Source: ROK proposed experts' examination of radar data at Singapore talks

NTV reported online on Wednesday evening that according to an ROK military source, the ROK side proposed at the Jan. 14 meeting in Singapore between Japanese and ROK defense officials on the fire-control radar incident that experts from both countries conduct detailed examinations of the SDF aircraft's radar data including the frequency on the condition that the SDF disclose such data. The meeting ended with the two sides failing to find any middle ground and the ROK criticizing Japan for demanding the full disclosure of the ROK destroyer's radar data in exchange for the SDF's disclosure of part of its data. NTV said that a senior Japanese Defense Ministry official criticized the ROK's attitude at the meeting, saying "it did not show good faith" and even hinted at terminating bilateral talks on the issue.

Meanwhile, NTV posted a separate online report on remarks by former Defense Minister Onodera on a BS-NTV program on Wednesday evening. He reportedly said that to resolve the matter it would be more "effective" to appeal to the international community than to talk to the ROK. Former chief of the ASDF Air Support Command Kunio Orita, appearing on the same program, stressed that since illumination with fire-control radar is a matter that could spark an international conflict, an ambiguous resolution would be unacceptable.

Japan kicks off G-20 presidency with focus on aging population (Kyodo News)

Abe said to be satisfied with Japan-Russia talks (Jiji Press)

Nippon Steel chief rejects Seoul's wartime labor claims (Jiji Press)

Dark clouds gathering over North Korea's abduction issue (Jiji Press)

Editorial: Russia must not distort historical facts of illegal occupation of northern isles (The Japan News)

Editorial: A hasty peace treaty deal with Russia is wrong way to proceed (The Asahi Shimbun)

Editorial: "Two island" tactic clearly failed in Northern Territory negotiations (Sankei)

Many boats likely from N. Korea left neglected on Japan coast (Kyodo News)

GOJ's legal position on Northern Territories remains "unchanged," CCS Suga (Nikkei)

Cartoon: Radar incident (Asahi)


Lawyers for Ghosn appeal Tokyo court's denial of bail request (Kyodo News)

Boeing enlists Japan Inc. in pursuit of electric planes (Nikkei Asian Review)

Japan, Israel agree to cooperate on IT healthcare (Asahi)

Japan firms alarmed over possible no-deal Brexit (Jiji Press)


Prime minister's schedule on January 16, 2019 (Sankei)

Exclusive interview with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: "Japan will spearhead creation of free and safe data flow zone" (Nikkei Business, Online)

Ex-PM Noda forms new opposition group in lower house (Kyodo News)

CDPJ House of Representatives group grows to 68 (Yomiuri)


Japanese, U.S., European companies set up NPO for eliminating plastic waste

NHK reported online this morning that yesterday 28 major Japanese, U.S., and European companies established an NPO called the Alliance to End Plastic Waste. The broad cross-sector group will invest $1.5 billion in the next five years to develop infrastructure and technology for recycling plastic. Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings, Sumitomo Chemical, Mitsui Chemicals, Exxon Mobil, Procter & Gamble, and major French oil company Total are among the members of the NPO. Procter & Gamble will serve as the chair.


Bangladeshi asylum seeker's cuffed hospital visit sparks debate (Kyodo News)

Editorial: JOC should clear up Tokyo Olympic bribery allegations (The Mainichi)

Tokyo's foreign residents prepare for worst at multilingual disaster drill (The Japan Times)

Cartoon: Takeda-style hospitality (Asahi)


DM Iwaya says Japan to buy 147 F-35 stealth fighters from U.S.

TV Asahi reported online on Thursday morning that during a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington on Wednesday, Defense Minister Iwaya indicated that Japan will reinforce its space and cyberspace defense capabilities in addition to its ground, maritime, and air defense forces in light of the qualitative and quantitative buildup of China's military power. He also disclosed that Japan will purchase a total of 147 advanced F-35 stealth fighters from the U.S., including 42 F-35Bs capable of vertical landing and taking off from short runways. The TV network noted that F-35Bs could be deployed on aircraft carriers in the future and could also be operated from civilian airports in the event that SDF bases can't be used due to Chinese missile attacks.

GOJ considering conducting radar beam tests to assess Aegis Ashore's effect on health

NHK reported online on Wednesday evening that Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga stated during a news conference earlier in the day that the government is considering using actual radar beams in tests to determine the effect of Aegis Ashore systems on human health in the proposed installation sites in Akita City and Hagi, Yamaguchi Prefecture, to address local residents' concerns. Computer simulation tests are already being conducted in Akita and Hagi, but the new tests are reportedly being considered as part of the government's efforts to win local consent for the Aegis Ashore deployment.

Japan, U.S. vow to cooperate in space, cyber domains, over N. Korea (Kyodo News)

Japan to update cybersecurity guidelines for infrastructure (Jiji Press)


Okinawa considering rescinding landfill permit again

Ryukyu Shimpo and Okinawa Times highlighted remarks made to opposition Diet members on Wednesday by Vice Okinawa Governor Jahana, who mentioned the possibility of rescinding the landfill permit for FRF construction again on the grounds that the quality of the earth being poured into waters for landfill off Camp Schwab is not compatible with the environmental standard set by the Okinawa Defense Bureau. The Okinawa official stressed that the ongoing landfill work is illegal, adding that the prefectural government might be able to issue a second rescindment even though the initial one issued in August last year was revoked by the land minister. Governor Tamaki reportedly followed up on his top deputy's suggestion by saying that although no discussions on the feasibility of the idea have been conducted within the prefectural government, he still thinks it is "technically possible" to issue a second rescindment. Okinawa Times added that when rescinding the permit last summer, the prefectural government called it a "last resort."

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team