Afternoon Alert   -   Wednesday, April 3, 2019
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Noon news

NHK led with a report on Tokyo prosecutors' moves to press additional breach of trust charges against former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn for allegedly using for personal expenses some of the 3.8 billion yen ($34 million) that the company extended to an auto dealership in Oman. He allegedly used part of the money to purchase a yacht. Top news stories on commercial TV networks included the unusually cold weather, the arrest of a Tokyo college professor for killing a large number of pigeons, and an announcement by the Imperial Household Agency that the Emperor was absent from an internal abdication-related event today for health reasons.


Senior USG official rules out possibility of extending Iran sanctions waiver

NHK highlighted press remarks on Tuesday by U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook, who reportedly urged Japan and other nations to stop importing Iranian oil. He reportedly said that as three of the eight parties that were granted waivers by the U.S. to import petroleum from Iran have now completely halted imports, Tehran has lost $10 billion in revenue since last May. The senior DOS official stressed that these waivers will not be extended beyond May 2 by saying: "The United States does not plan to allow any exceptions in its campaign of maximum economic pressure on Iran."

Four ships prohibited from leaving ROK due to alleged violation of anti-DPRK sanctions

NHK reported on the disclosure by the ROK Foreign Ministry today that four vessels, including a South Korean ship, are being prohibited from departing from South Korean ports since they are suspected of having been involved in ship-to-ship transfers of sanctioned items for North Korea in violation of relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

High-ranking DOJ official comments on Huawei, North Korea

NHK broadcast an interview with Deputy Assistant Attorney General Adam Hickey on criminal charges pressed by the Justice Department against Chinese telecom giant Huawei concerning its attempt to steal trade secrets from American companies. The official stressed that the theft was carried out upon instructions from the senior Huawei leadership. "That's not one or two rogue actors," the official said, "That looks to be a corporate policy. That's why we charged the company." Speaking on other cases of corporate theft in America involving Chinese firms or individuals, Hickey criticized the Chinese government for not cooperating with the U.S. investigations by saying: "When we charge a Chinese company or a Chinese national, the Chinese government does not assist us. They don't provide evidence. The Chinese government has created conditions that encourage its people to steal trade secrets from our companies."

According to the broadcaster, the DOJ official also commented on cyber threats posed by the DPRK. He was quoted as saying: "We have confirmed the North Koreans committed cyberattacks". We continue to see malicious activity including activity targeting financial institutions and other entities."

U.S.-China summit may take place in Osaka

Nikkei published an online report on the possibility of a summit between President Trump and Chinese President Xi in Osaka in late June on the margins of the G20 summit, conjecturing that if the world's two largest economies are not able to resolve their bilateral trade friction before then, they may choose to hold summit talks in Japan to seal a final trade deal.

IAEA chief says nuclear inspections in DPRK "indispensable"

NHK aired an interview with IAEA Director General Amano regarding the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. He reportedly underscored the necessity of inspections of DPRK nuclear facilities by the international nuclear watchdog. He was quoted as saying: "Complete and irreversible denuclearization is a stated goal in UN Security Council resolutions.... [Pyongyang's] commitment to denuclearize would be meaningless without establishing a robust inspection regime." The IAEA leader stressed that such monitoring should be done by IAEA experts, rather than those from the U.S. or other nations, adding that his organization is prepared to send inspectors to North Korea at any time.

China to replace longtime Tokyo envoy amid improving ties (Nikkei Asian Review)

Japan presses China on intellectual property safeguards (Nikkei Asian Review)

Abe's right-hand man plans U.S. visit on North Korean abductions (Nikkei Asian Review)


Editorial: Don't hesitate to make radical review of new immigration program (Sankei)

Editorial: Don't let foreign workers pay the price for a haphazard immigration policy (Asahi)

U.S.-Japan trade negotiations set for April 15-16: The two sides remain split over which services to include in TAG talks (Nikkei Asian Review)

Japan-U.S. trade talks likely in D.C. in mid-April (The Japan News)


Prime minister's schedule on April 2, 2019 (Sankei)

Cartoon: Abe walks a tightrope (Akahata)


Over 70% approve of Japan's new imperial era name, Kyodo News spot poll (Kyodo News)

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

Spot opinion poll & results from Yomiuri Shimbun (Yomiuri)

30% of young Japanese say Diet not helping people's lives (Kyodo News)


New emperor expected to take more global approach to role (Kyodo News)

Statement by Prime Minister Abe: On the new era name "Reiwa" (Kantei Website)

Foreign media focus on break in tradition in picking Japan's era names (Kyodo News)

Editorial: Reiwa name meant to convey flavor, aspiration for new era / Take thorough steps to update systems (The Japan News)

Editorial: Public called on to embrace new Reiwa era (The Mainichi)

Editorial: Japan should strive to flourish in era of Reiwa (Sankei)


Editorial: Time for Japan to stop appeasing U.S. and improve the quality of aid (The Asahi Shimbun)

Defense Minister apologizes for introduction of ammo to Miyakojima (Asahi)


U.S. military relaxes liberty restrictions in Okinawa

Ryukyu Shimpo wrote that Marine Lt. Gen. Smith, Okinawa Area Coordinator, drastically eased liberty restrictions for service members in the island prefecture starting on Feb. 26, noting that the restriction on young Marines driving off base was lifted and personnel ranked E5 and below will have an extra hour of off-base liberty. Other restrictions that were lifted reportedly include a requirement that Marines have "liberty buddies" when they go off base. According to a Marine spokesperson, the general gave the service members greater freedom to "learn about and enjoy Okinawa." The daily expressed concern that the relaxation of liberty restrictions may lead to an increase in incidents and accidents involving military personnel.

Guam relocation money to be diverted to border wall construction (Okinawa Times)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team