Afternoon Alert   -   Wednesday, May 8, 2019
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Noon news

NHK, TBS, NTV, and TV Asahi led with reports on a traffic accident in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, this morning in which 2 daycare workers and 13 children were injured. Four of the children were reportedly unconscious. Fuji TV gave top coverage to a Japan Airlines computer system glitch this morning that caused domestic flight delays and cancellations.


Special envoy Biegun meets with MOFA official on DPRK projectiles

NHK and TBS reported today that U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Biegun met with Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau Director General Kanasugi at the Foreign Ministry this morning. They reportedly discussed North Korea's launch of projectiles on May 4 and agreed to share information and coordinate closely on the two countries' response. The networks said that in light of Prime Minister Abe's recent remarks on his willingness to hold an "unconditional" summit with Kim Jong Un, the two officials probably also discussed the abduction issue. Biegun will head for Seoul following his visit to Japan.

PM Abe, outgoing Chinese envoy express hope for improvement of bilateral ties

NHK reported online on Tuesday night on a reception held in Tokyo earlier in the evening for outgoing Chinese Ambassador Cheng Yonghua, the longest-serving Chinese ambassador to Japan. The event was attended by some 800 prominent political and business leaders, including Prime Minister Abe and LDP Secretary General Nikai. In his remarks at the party, Abe reportedly noted that his official visit to China last year "fully restored" normal relations between the two countries and that he looks forward to engaging President Xi Jinping in in-depth discussions toward "building a new era" in the bilateral relationship when Xi visits in June for the G20 Osaka Summit. On his part, Cheng was quoted as affirming that bilateral relations are now back to normal "after overcoming their most difficult period following the normalization of diplomatic relations." He expressed high expectations for the future of the bilateral relationship, saying he is confident that the two countries will open up "new horizons." Cheng will depart Japan later this month and his successor, Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuangyou, is expected to arrive in late May. TV Asahi and TBS also carried reports on the reception.

Gist of Abe's remarks to reporters after teleconference with Trump on May 6 (Yomiuri)

Japanese, U.S. leaders confirm cooperation in dealing with North Korea (Sankei)

Japan to call on N. Korea to realize summit "without conditions" (Kyodo News)

N. Korea may begin contacts with Japan following Abe's gesture (Kyodo News)

Japan, U.S., S. Korea to meet on projectile launches by North (Jiji Press)

World leaders congratulate Japan's new emperor on enthronement (Kyodo News)

Trump sends "profound congratulations" to new Japanese emperor (Kyodo News)

Koizumi calls for closer Japan-U.S. alliance, vows domestic reforms (Kyodo News)

Trump offers "heartfelt appreciation" to Japan's outgoing emperor (Kyodo News)

Irked by WTO ruling, Abe vows to reform trade organization (The Asahi Shimbun)

Analysis: Abe's focus on friendship with Trump may backfire at home (The Asahi Shimbun)

ASEAN opens door to yuan and yen for currency safety net (Nikkei Asian Review)

Debate over colonial-era Japanese buildings flares in South Korea (Nikkei Asian Review)


Japan treads carefully to avoid US-China trade war crossfire (Nikkei Asian Review)

Kyocera to acquire U.S. construction tool distributor (Jiji Press)

Gov't to send financial experts to Africa (Nikkei)

JA Zenchu, JICA to jointly revitalize agriculture in developing nations (Mainichi)

GM unit to raise 1.15 b. dollars from Honda, others (Jiji Press)

30% Club Japan launched to increase women at company boards (Jiji Press)

30% of livestock cell operators not active (The Japan News)

Japan sales tax to rise as planned: ruling party heavyweight (Nikkei Asian Review)

Japan looks to drones, self-driving tractors to lift rice exports (Nikkei Asian Review)


Prime minister's schedule on May 6, 2019 (Sankei)

Prime minister's schedule on May 7, 2019 (Sankei)

Communists give rare congratulations for new Emperor's enthronement (Jiji Press)

Strength of in-house groups in House of Representatives (Yomiuri)

Cartoon: Suga reaches out (Asahi)

Editorial: Constitutional revision debate must envision Reiwa-era state / Return to cooperative starting point (The Japan News)

Editorial: Prioritize revival of Diet authority in debate on Constitution (The Mainichi)


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

74% back emperor as symbol of state defined by current Constitution, Mainichi poll (The Mainichi)

30% say they are "unsure" whether SDF should be specified in Constitution, Mainichi poll (Mainichi)

Opinion poll & results from Mainichi Shimbun (Mainichi)

Highlights of April 2019 Jiji Press Public Opinion Poll (Jiji Press Public Opinion Poll Bulletin)


Japan to import Ebola virus for diagnostic testing

This morning's Yomiuri front-paged a Health Ministry plan to import this summer viruses responsible for four highly contagious diseases, including Ebola and Crimean–Congo hemorrhagic fevers, and store them at a research lab in Tokyo for the purpose of testing patients' immunity to the deadly pathogens. Samples of Lassa and Marburg hemorrhagic fevers will also be imported ahead of the start of the World Cup Rugby tournament in the autumn so that diagnostic testing will be possible ahead of the Tokyo Olympics next year when many foreigners are expected to visit Japan. The daily explained that Japan is the only country in the G7 that does not yet have a biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) laboratory in operation, noting that the imported viruses will be frozen and stored in tightly sealed containers at the heavily protected facility. They will reportedly not be used for the study of the treatment of the diseases. The time of the importation and the routes of the transfer to the lab will not be disclosed for security reasons.

U.N. climate panel kicks off general meeting in Kyoto (Jiji Press)

Japan minister hopeful for expanding space activities (Jiji Press)

Editorial: Hone skills for appropriately utilizing AI technology / Necessary to set rules on ethical issues (The Japan News)


Olympics: Concerns remain over Tokyo 2020 preparation (Kyodo News)

Japan mulls amnesty in honor of Emperor Naruhito's enthronement (Kyodo News)

Profile of Japan's New Emperor Naruhito (Kyodo News)

Profile of Japan's New Empress Masako (Kyodo News)

Japan's shrinking royal family reignites debate on women's role (Nikkei Asian Review)

Japan grants 1st working visa under new system to 2 Cambodians (Kyodo News)


Japan research institute studying use of AI for nuclear forensics (Kyodo News)

Commentary: Younger Okinawans' view of U.S. bases isn't black and white (The Japan Times)

Japan deploying longer-range missiles to counter China (The Asahi Shimbun)

Streamlined duties help MSDF to battle shortage of new cadets (The Asahi Shimbun)

Japan to develop 1st defense use computer virus against cyberattacks (Kyodo News)

Soft seabed puts U.S. base project in Okinawa back in tight corner (The Asahi Shimbun)


DM Iwaya comments on press report on Marines' transfer to Guam

Okinawa Times wrote that in response to an earlier press report claiming that the U.S. military is planning to start transferring Marines from Okinawa to Guam as early as October 2024, Defense Minister Iwaya told the press on Tuesday that no agreement has been reached between the United States and Japan at this stage. Iwaya reportedly added that Japan will work with the U.S. to ensure the transfer will be completed as soon as possible.

Ginowan mayor to visit U.S. (Okinawa Times)

U.S. Air Force skips environmental surveys at site of firing of depleted uranium bullets (Okinawa Times)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team