Afternoon Alert   -   Thursday, May 16, 2019
The following information reflects the reporting of the cited news media and does not reflect the opinions of the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. Japan Media Highlights is intended for USG use only and should not be forwarded. Visit the website here. For more information, contact TokyoMATT@state.gov.


Noon news

NHK led with a report on a meeting between Foreign Minister Kono and his Iranian counterpart, Javad Zarif, this morning. Kono reportedly asked Iran to abide by the 2015 nuclear deal. TV Asahi gave top coverage to a report saying that the U.S.-China trade conflict has been further intensified by President Trump's signing of an executive order banning American companies from using Huawei telecom technology and services. NTV and TBS reported on the Meteorological Agency's announcement this morning that the rainy season has started in Okinawa. Fuji TV's top story was about sumo wrestler Takakeisho's withdrawal from the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament from today due to a knee injury.


Prime minister's schedule on May 15, 2019 (Sankei)

New Emperor Naruhito receives 1st briefing from prime minister (Kyodo News)

CCS Suga says relations with U.S. under DPJ-led government were "the worst" (Nikkei)

Cartoon: Abe at a crossroads on tax (Akahata)


Ginowan mayor asks U.S. to decide on timetable for return of MCAS Futenma

NHK reported this morning that at a news conference yesterday, Ginowan Mayor Matsukawa, who is visiting the U.S. from May 13, said that through his meetings with senior U.S. officials of the State and Defense Departments he was able to confirm that Japan and the U.S. share the view that the construction of a replacement facility in Henoko, Nago, is the only solution to the Futenma base issue and that both countries are aiming for the early return of the base. Matsukawa disclosed that when he asked the U.S. government to decide on a timetable for the return of MCAS Futenma, State and Defense Department officials expressed regret for not being able to do so, but said they would like to come up with a policy direction at an early date. Matsukawa will visit Hawaii on May 16 to make the same request of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.

Okinawa's plea draws mainland moves, 47 years after reversion (The Asahi Shimbun)

U.S. military allows Japanese security guards to carry handguns on public road (Tokyo Shimbun)

U.S. Marine Corps F-35B at Iwakuni damaged by bird strike (Jiji Press)

Probe finds F-35's first crash was caused by manufacturing defect, in revelation that could affect Japan plans to buy aircraft (The Japan Times)

Editorial: Nuclear powers should lead world toward a mood for disarmament (The Asahi Shimbun)


Executive order banning use of Huawei products seen as increased pressure on China

NHK reported at noon on the executive order signed by President Trump yesterday banning American companies from using telecom technology and services provided by entities posing a national security risk, which apparently targets Huawei, along with the Department of Commerce's announcement of a ban on the sale of Huawei electronic parts without government permission. NHK noted that since the arrest of Huawei's Vice Chairman Meng Wanzhou by Canada at the U.S.'s request last December, the Trump administration has been putting increasing pressure on Huawei, regarding it as a security risk. The network also observed that the latest moves are seen to be aimed at increasing pressure on China to draw concessions in the bilateral trade talks. NHK conjectured that the U.S. is alarmed by Huawei's growing global presence in building 5G telecom infrastructure and concerned that China may take control of global 5G networks. Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga was shown making the following comments this morning: "Ensuring the security of 5G networks is extremely important for Japan's national security. We are closely watching developments related to this issue, including the U.S. government's moves."

Newspapers ran similar stories online, with Nikkei speculating that the executive order is intended to apply pressure on Japan and other U.S. partners to join hands in excluding the Chinese tech giant from the 5G market. Speculating that the Trump administration may not condone foreign firms' supplying Huawei with parts made by U.S. manufacturers, the daily wrote that the latest U.S. measures penalizing the Chinese firm appears to be more stringent than the earlier one and that Japanese and other foreign enterprises may need to be aware of the risk of sanctions being imposed on them by Washington if they choose to do business with Huawei.

Discord Emerges between U.S., Japan over DPRK short-range missiles

Kyodo reported on Wednesday on the disclosure by several unnamed sources that during a trilateral defense meeting between the U.S., Japan, and South Korea held in Seoul on May 9, the U.S. participants allegedly did not agree with Japan's view that the three partners should respond firmly to North Korea's launches of short-range ballistic missiles earlier this month. The U.S. officials reportedly explained that Washington will take a wait-and-see approach on the grounds that President Trump is exploring a third summit with Kim Jong Un. According to unnamed Japanese diplomats, while working-level USG officials are in sync with the Japanese side in their perception of the latest missile launches, they cannot openly say so out of deference to President Trump. Kyodo claimed that Prime Minister Abe and other senior GOJ officials apparently decided to tone down their criticism of North Korea to avoid showing disarray with the U.S. leader. who called the missile firings "very standard." The wire service added that Abe's diplomacy will be tested during the President's trip to Japan later this month, as the Japanese leader is keen to demonstrate that he is taking a synchronized approach with the Trump administration in dealing with North Korea.

Sources: Drones to be banned from flying over hotel and sites President Trump will visit

Citing unnamed sources, NTV reported at noon that the Foreign Ministry has decided to ban drones from flying over areas near the hotel where President Trump will be staying and the sites he will visit when he comes to Japan from May 25 to 28 in order to prevent terrorist attacks from the air. The ban will reportedly include the course where the President plans to play golf with Prime Minister Abe and Ryogoku Kokugikan, where he is scheduled to watch sumo matches. TBS aired a similar report.

Trump orders targeted export ban against Huawei (Nikkei Asian Review)

Trump declares national emergency over tech threats, Huawei in sights (Kyodo News)

Officials inspect sumo stadium to ensure President Trump's safety (Sankei)

Secret Service gives Kokugikan thorough check (Sankei)

Japan vows to work with Iran to ease nuclear-deal tension (Kyodo News)

Reasons behind Zarif's visit to Japan (NHK WORLD)

S. Korea should present solutions to tensions: Suga (Jiji Press)

ROK PM Lee sees limits to gov't action on wartime labor rulings (Jiji Press)

LDP's Nikai meets with Russian prime minister's aide (Sankei)

LDP shows understanding for unconditional talks with DPRK (Yomiuri)

Osaka red light district to be closed during G-20 summit (Kyodo News)


U.S. may ask Japan to restrict auto exports

All papers reported online on a Bloomberg article speculating that the Trump administration may ask Japan and the EU to adopt quantitative restrictions on their auto shipments to the U.S. market in exchange for postponing the proposed tariffs. Pointing out that the GOJ is strongly opposed to adopting a quota on auto exports, the daily projected that if the U.S. makes such a request, it will become a "hot potato" in the upcoming trade liberalization negotiations.

Asahi took up remarks made to the press by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga this morning when he was asked about the Trump administration's purported plan to ask Japan and the EU to limit auto exports to America. The government spokesman reportedly said: "We are aware of the news report, but will not comment on it since the U.S. government has not made such an announcement." He cited the joint statement released by President Trump and Prime Minister Abe in New York last September saying that the two nations will "refrain from taking measures against the spirit of this joint statement" during the process of bilateral trade consultations, underscoring that the premier confirmed directly with the President that additional tariffs will not be imposed under Section 232 [of the Trade Expansion Act] on autos or auto parts.

Yokohama transport companies launch anti-casino organization

NHK reported yesterday that the Yokohama Harbor Transport Association consisting of local transport and port-related companies announced at a news conference yesterday the launch of a new Yokohama Harbor Resort Association of some 240 members who are opposed to having an integrated resort with casinos in the city. The group aims to propose private sector-led redevelopment projects for the Yamashita Pier area. The new group's chairman, Yukio Fujiki, said that they will come up with proposals that will be beneficial for the city's future and that profitable redevelopment is possible by building a world-class exhibition facility for a wide variety of events and making the port area a hub for international cruise ships. He said he is opposed to casinos out of concern for gambling addiction.

U.S. demand for auto export restrictions rattles Japan (Nikkei Asian Review)

How Xi Jinping's colleagues rejected an 'unequal' trade deal (Nikkei Asian Review)

Japan IR Expo opens in Osaka as candidates step up efforts to win integrated casino resort licenses (The Japan Times)

French casino giant opens office in western Japan (Jiji Press)

Takeda opens new R&D facility in U.S. (NIKKEI Business Daily)

Editorial: U.S., China must find ways to avoid vicious spiral of sanctions, retaliation (The Japan News)


Olympics: Report reveals alleged labor issues at 2020 building sites (Kyodo News)

Over 60% of groups addressing child poverty lack funds, Cabinet Office poll (Akahata)

Is Japan giving asylum seekers the cold shoulder? Policies suggest answer is 'yes' (The Mainichi)

Volunteers prepare to be the face of inclusive 2020 Games (Kyodo News)

Editorial: Spread of cannabis abuse among young people must be prevented (The Japan News)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team