Afternoon Alert   -   Tuesday, May 21, 2019
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Noon news

All TV networks except Fuji TV led with reports on the torrential rain in the Kanto region and eastern Japan today. Fuji TV reported on a traffic accident near Shimbashi Station in Tokyo this morning that injured four pedestrians.


Ambassador Hagerty comments on trade talks with Japan

Jiji reported online on a speech delivered in Tokyo this morning by Ambassador Hagerty. Speaking on bilateral trade talks with Japan, he reportedly said: "President Trump is hoping for an agreement in several weeks". He hopes major progress will be made in a short period" following his summit with Prime Minister Abe next week. The Ambassador reportedly expressed dissatisfaction that American farmers are being put in a disadvantageous position in accessing the Japanese market as a result of the effectuation of the TPP. Speaking on the timing of a trade deal with Tokyo, the Ambassador reportedly said that depends "on the talks between Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Motegi and USTR Lighthizer."

Seko: Japanese auto exports do not pose security threat to the U.S.

NHK reported today that Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry Seko discussed at a news conference this morning the U.S.'s reported plan to slap higher tariffs on Japanese auto exports on the grounds that they constitute a national security threat. Seko pointed out that while Japan exports 1.74 million cars to the U.S. annually, Japanese automakers also manufacture 3.68 million cars, or twice the number of exports, in the U.S., providing more than 1.5 million jobs. He was quoted as emphasizing that the auto industries in the two countries are closely integrated in R&D, production, and parts manufacturing, and Japanese automakers contribute to the growth of American industry, so "imports of cars and parts from Japan do not pose a security threat to the U.S." Seko also revealed that he will depart for Paris today, where he will meet with USTR Lighthizer. He said that although the agenda for the meeting is still under coordination, he will raise the auto issue if necessary.

Japan economy to continue recovery on gov't stimulus: Aso (Kyodo News)

Japan's strong GDP strengthens likelihood of October tax hike (Nikkei Asian Review)

Japan's manufacturers grow cautious about production in China (Nikkei Asian Review)

Japan and India to develop Colombo port, countering Belt and Road (Nikkei Asian Review)

Japan looks to lift food exports with greater policy coordination (Nikkei Asian Review)

Local governments fret over IR construction as gov't has not set basic policy (Sankei)

Toyota Tsusho invests in U.S. drone startup (Jiji Press)


Iran discussed in Kono-Pompeo teleconference

NHK reported today that the U.S. State Department announced that Secretary Pompeo and Foreign Minister Kono discussed "Japan's engagement with Iran" over the phone last night, although no details were provided. NHK noted that Pompeo and Kono's phone call came shortly after Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif's hastily-arranged visit to Japan last week to meet with Kono and Prime Minister Abe amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran. The network speculated that Pompeo probably reiterated to Kono the U.S.'s policy of increasing pressure on Iran. The State Department also disclosed that China's human rights abuses and the U.S.'s ban on transactions with Huawei were taken up in the teleconference.

FM Kono: Moon responsible for resolving requisitioned workers issue

NHK reported today that Foreign Minister Kono discussed at a news conference this morning the Japanese government's request to submit the South Korean wartime requisitioned workers issue to a third-party arbitration panel based on the 1965 bilateral agreement on wartime compensation claims. "We have taken a restrained approach so far, but with the ROK government saying there are 'limitations' to what it can do, we can no longer wait," he said. "This a grave situation for the bilateral relationship." Kono asserted that President Moon, as the representative of the ROK government, should take responsibility and exercise leadership in dealing with this issue, and if there are limitations to the domestic policies that his government can adopt, the ROK will have to consent to submitting the matter to the arbitration panel or even to an international court of justice to arrive at a proper solution.

In a related development, NHK also reported that Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga told new ROK Ambassador to Japan Nam, who made a courtesy call at the Kantei this morning, that the ROK government should consent to convening the arbitration panel and take responsibility for arriving at a solution at an early date since the ROK government has an obligation to take action under the bilateral agreement.

U.S., Japan first ladies to visit digital museum on May 26

NTV reported this morning that it has learned that arrangements are being made for First Lady Melania Trump and Prime Minister Abe's wife, Akie, to visit the Mori Building Digital Art Museum in Odaiba, Tokyo, on May 26, while President Trump and PM Abe play golf in Chiba Prefecture. The art museum offers interactive experiences with digital images that respond to human movements. The Trumps and the Abes will watch sumo bouts at the Ryogoku Kokugikan later in the afternoon.

Russian PM announces new development projects in Northern Territories

TV Asahi reported this morning that Russian Prime Minister Medvedev announced at a meeting on Russian Far East development yesterday new projects worth around 10 billion yen (approximately $90 million) in the Northern Territories and the North Kuril Islands, including tourism and fishery products processing facilities. The network noted that the Russian government had previously announced plans to invest a total of 120 billion yen (approximately $1.1 billion) in the islands from 2016 to 2025 and the new projects probably constitute an additional effort to make Russian control of the territory a fait accompli despite the Japanese and Russian governments' agreement to promote joint economic activities in the Northern Territories. NHK aired a similar report.

Trump to watch sumo matches from very close to ring (Jiji Press)

S. Korea, Japan foreign ministers to meet in Paris (Kyodo News)

AIIB chief seeks to collaborate with Japan lenders in infrastructure (Kyodo News)

Japan boosting visa issuance while scaling down ODA (Jiji Press)

Editorial: Japan should seize President Trump's visit as chance to resolve abduction issue (Sankei)

Japanese man gets 15-year prison sentence in China for spying (Kyodo News)

Suga: Gov't plans to assist man sentenced in China (NHK WORLD)


Prime minister's schedule on May 20, 2019 (Sankei)

No link between tax hike, Lower House breakup: Aso (Jiji Press)

From cardboard factory to the kantei? Abe No. 2 gets PR makeover as rumors of PM bid soar (The Japan Times)

Japan sets up panel to promote territorial claims (Jiji Press)

Cartoon: The next PM? (Tokyo Shimbun)

Cartoon: Fightin' words (Kanagawa Shimbun)

47% of LDP members are negative about factions in political parties, Yomiuri poll (Yomiuri)


75% are "concerned" about negative impact of consumption tax hike on economy, Asahi poll (Asahi)

Koizumi should be LDP party head successor, Asahi poll (The Asahi Shimbun)

Opinion poll & results from Asahi Shimbun (Asahi)

61% back Abe's readiness to meet N. Korean leader without conditions, Kyodo News poll (Kyodo News)

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

Over 70% show positive feelings toward Japan's new Emperor, Mainichi survey (The Mainichi)

Opinion poll & results from Mainichi Shimbun (Mainichi)


Japan adds 16 properties, including a gold mine and Kansai-area temples, to its national heritage list (The Japan Times)

Iraqi man fearing persecution for ties to Saddam party sues Japan for refusing refugee status (The Japan Times)

Govt mulling joint custody after divorce (The Japan News)

Editorial: Aid international business deals by translating laws into foreign languages (The Japan News)

1 in 3 of Japan's citizen judges say court experience was stressful, Kyodo News poll (Kyodo News)


Iwaya hopes for stability in Middle East (NHK WORLD)

Ex-MSDF eyed as way to secure scarce human resources (The Japan News)

JR West conducts antiterror drills ahead of G-20 Summit (Jiji Press)


Ban on drone flights likely to be enforced over Okinawa bases

Ryukyu Shimpo led with a written response provided by U.S. Marine Corps Installations Pacific (MCIPAC) to its query about Japan's recent revision of a law regulating drone flights. The Marine authorities reportedly indicated that they will probably not permit drone flights over bases in Okinawa because they may pose a danger to the facilities and local residents. The paper interpreted this comment to mean that the U.S. military will reject requests by media outlets for overflights by drones near Camp Schwab for the purpose of photographing FRF construction.

In an accompanying article, the daily asserted that although the GOJ amended the law as a measure to head off terrorist acts, the U.S. military is apparently set to cite the new Japanese statute in order to ban drone flights in the vicinity of military installations so as to shield base operations from media scrutiny.

Okinawa gov't finds toxic substance in river along Kadena Air Base (Okinawa Times)

MOD to subsidize improvement of Chatan water treatment facility (Ryukyu Shimpo)

Okinawa requests return of USFJ facilities, areas, on-site surveys (Okinawa Times)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team