Afternoon Alert   -   Thursday, January 24, 2019
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Noon news

NHK and NTV led with reports on blizzards in Hokkaido and elsewhere in northern Japan today. TV Asahi and Fuji TV reported on the grilling of the labor minister at the Lower House Committee on Health, Labor, and Welfare meeting this morning over the ministry's faulty labor data. TBS gave top coverage to a report that a Filipino man has decided to turn himself in shortly for murdering a female student in Ibaraki Prefecture 15 years ago.


Japan, China cancel leaders' New Year message exchange following ban on Huawei products

Fuji TV reported online on Thursday morning that it learned from a source in the Communist Party of China that the Japanese and Chinese governments were considering an exchange of New Year's messages between Prime Minister Abe and Premier Li Keqiang for 2019 but this plan was canceled by the Chinese side. According to the network, the cancellation was perhaps in response to the Japanese government's decision in December to effectively exclude Huawei and ZTE products from government procurement, noting that the cancellation may have an impact on the trend of improvement in bilateral relations.

PM Abe's adviser on Russian policy: Japan gave up on return of all four islands in 1991

NTV reported this morning that former Lower House member Muneo Suzuki, who is the head of New Party Daichi and known to be an adviser to Prime Minister Abe on negotiations with Russia, stated during a program on NTV's satellite TV channel on Wednesday evening that on the Northern Territories Japan in 1991 shifted to a policy of only demanding the return of Habomai and Shikotan after the end of the Cold War in the belief that would be the only feasible solution to the territorial issue. When asked why the government has not explained this policy change to the people, he said that it is premature to do so since negotiations are still underway. He also asserted that Japan cannot press for the return of the other two islands in the negotiation process since this would arouse suspicion on the Russian side and compromise the talks.

N. Korea's Kim satisfied with recent talks with U.S. (Kyodo News)

Gist of Japan, ROK foreign ministerial meeting (Yomiuri)

Japan calls on ROK for early discussions on requisitioned workers (Yomiuri)

Korean foreign minister expresses "concern about low-altitude flight;" ministers confirm close collaboration (Asahi)

Japan, ROK remain apart over requisitioned workers (Sankei)

S. Korean court upholds compensation ruling on wartime labor (Kyodo News)

Japan's Abe calls for rebuilding trust in int'l trade system in Davos (Kyodo News)

Gist of Prime Minister Abe's speech at World Economic Forum in Davos (Yomiuri)

Japan, China to hold security dialogue on Feb. 1 in Beijing: sources (Kyodo News)

Historic deal on Russian-held islands looks no nearer after Abe and Putin's fruitless 25th meeting (The Japan Times, Kyodo News)

"U.S. military is not hindrance to Japan-Russia negotiations," Daniel Russel (Yomiuri)

Editorial: Northern Territories negotiations should not be shelved (Nikkei)

Expert: No path forward shown for resolution of territorial issue (Nikkei)

Analyzing Lavrov remarks (Sankei)

Cartoon: Different signals for different folks (Asahi)


Fishermen in major whaling port to resume commercial whaling in July

NHK reported at noon that in light of Japan's withdrawal from the International Whaling Commission, the fishermen's cooperative in the town of Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, a major whaling port, is planning to form a fleet with private companies and other organizations in Miyagi and Chiba to resume commercial whaling for the first time in 31 years on July 1. The whaling ships will leave from Kushiro in Hokkaido or Hachinohe in Aomori Prefecture, where there are processing facilities for whale meat, to catch minke whales for about a week. After that, Taiji fishing boats will catch whales in waters off Chiba Prefecture until the end of August. Another fleet will be formed after that for whaling in waters off Kushiro for about two months. A cooperative official was quoted as saying that Taiji fishermen are looking forward to the resumption of whaling and they will abide by their catch quota.


Prime minister's schedule on January 23, 2019 (Sankei)

2 opposition parties to form parliamentary alliance (Jiji Press)


Reform education to produce true leaders (The Japan Times)


First-time, short-term visitors to Japan hit record 27 million in 2018, making up 98% of arrivals (The Japan Times)


Record SDF scrambles made for China planes over Tsushima Strait (Jiji Press)

Japan adopts program to raise cybersecurity awareness (Jiji Press)

Editorial: 'Star Wars' missile defense remains a dangerous fantasy (The Japan Times)

Editorial: Global leaders should wisely consider changing course to disarmament (Tokyo Shimbun)


Okinawa governor lodges protest over parachute training at Kadena

Ryukyu Shimpo and Okinawa Times took up a courtesy call that the Okinawa Area Coordinator, Lt. Gen. Smith, paid on Okinawa Governor Tamaki on Wednesday. The governor reportedly criticized the heavy U.S. military presence in the island prefecture by saying: "Okinawa's patience has already reached its limit." He took issue with parachute drop drills at Kadena AB, demanding they be canceled on the grounds that the 1996 SACO final report designated the Ie Jima Auxiliary Airfield as the location for such training. Lt. Gen. Smith reportedly stated in reply: "We maintain constant readiness for Japan's security. Maximum consideration is given to ensuring safety when conducting parachute training and operating aircraft." According to the dailies, nine U.S. paratroopers conducted training at the installation on Wednesday evening for the first time in 16 months. Local officials and residents are reportedly concerned that the U.S. military will carry out paradrop training at Kadena regularly.

FRF referendum likely to be held by all municipalities in Okinawa (Okinawa Times Ryukyu Shimpo)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team