Afternoon Alert   -   Tuesday, May 28, 2019
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Noon news

All TV networks led with reports on a mass stabbing incident in Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture, this morning in which one grade school girl and the father of another girl were killed and 13 to 15 other girls and 1 adult were injured. The suspect, a 51-year old man from Kawasaki who was taken into custody, stabbed himself in the neck and later died.


President Trump offers condolences to victims of street attack near Tokyo

Asahi reported online that during his remarks addressed to U.S. and Japanese sailors aboard JMSDF Kaga this morning, President Trump briefly mentioned the mass stabbing of grade school pupils that took place in Kawasaki earlier in the day. He reportedly offered prayers and words of condolence to the victims, adding: "All Americans stand with the people of Japan and grieve for the victims and for their families."

President Trump, PM Abe visit destroyer Kaga to encourage USFJ, SDF members

NHK broadcast live the visit by President Trump and Prime Minister Abe to the MSDF destroyer Kaga. In his speech to the 500 SDF and USFJ members gathered onboard the vessel, Abe pointed out that this is the first time in history for the U.S. president and the Japanese prime minister to board an SDF destroyer together. He stressed that the two leaders standing together on Kaga attests to the fact that the bilateral security alliance has never been stronger under their partnership and symbolizes the friendship between the two forces. He emphasized that the two forces are in total agreement on their mission to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific as the cornerstone of regional peace and prosperity. He mentioned the plan to remodel the Kaga so that it can carry cutting-edge fighters onboard in order for the Japan-U.S. alliance to better contribute to regional security and stability. He paid tribute and expressed gratitude to the members of the SDF and the USFJ, as well as the President as commander-in-chief of the U.S. Forces, for their tireless efforts in support of the robust security alliance.

In his speech the President thanked all concerned for inviting him as Japan's first state guest in the Reiwa Era and to visit the Kaga. He expressed sympathy for the victims of the stabbing incident in Kawasaki this morning on behalf of the American people. He noted that Yokosuka is the only place in the world where U.S. Forces and the navy of an ally are headquartered side-by-side and this in itself symbolizes the U.S.-Japan partnership and alliance. He highlighted Japan's plan to purchase 105 F-35 stealth fighters for deployment on the Kaga and other vessels, making it the U.S. ally that will have the largest fleet of F-35s, which will contribute further to the security of both countries and to responding to the complex range of threats in the region and beyond. He thanked Abe for his commitment to strengthening Japan's defense capability, which will also benefit the U.S.'s security. He expressed his gratitude to the men and women of the USFJ and the SDF. All commercial broadcasters also aired reports on the Kaga visit.

President Trump addresses U.S. service members aboard the USS Wasp

NHK and TV Asahi reported at noon that after his visit to the destroyer Kaga, President Trump flew to the USS Wasp, also anchored at the Yokosuka base, and delivered a speech to its crew. The President stressed the strong U.S.-Japan alliance and his "fantastic" relationship with Prime Minister Abe. He reiterated that Yokosuka is the only port in the world where a U.S. naval fleet is headquartered side by side with an ally naval fleet and this attests to the "iron-clad partnership between the U.S. and Japanese forces."

CCS Suga comments on President Trump's remark on DPRK missiles

NHK reported at noon that during a news conference this morning, Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga commented on President Trump's remark on North Korea's recent missile launches at the joint news conference yesterday that while certain U.S. administration officials think they could be a violation of UN resolutions, "I view it differently." Suga said he understood this remark was made in the context of the relationship of trust between the President and Kim Jong Un. He was quoted as saying: "Launching ballistic missiles is clearly in violation of UN Security Council resolutions and we have confirmed this position with the U.S. government on many occasions. The two countries intend to continue to work for the full implementation of these resolutions."

NHK also reported on Foreign Minister Kono's comments on the President's remark this morning, saying Japan and the U.S. are in agreement that the missile launches violated UN resolutions. He reportedly suggested that the President was only making various comments in relation to the U.S.-DPRK agreement.

Trade minister Motegi comments on President Trump's remark on trade talks

NHK reported at noon that at a news conference this morning, Economic Revitalization Minister Motegi commented on President Trump's remark yesterday that regarding the bilateral trade talks, the two countries would be able to announce "some things" in August. He said this was simply an expression of the President's hope to move the talks forward as quickly as possible. In connection with the President's statement at his joint news conference with Prime Minister Abe that the U.S. is "not involved in TPP," which was reportedly interpreted by some as meaning the U.S. will not be bound by the terms of the TPP agreement, Motegi said that this was simply a statement of the fact that the U.S. has withdrawn from the free-trade pact. He stressed that as indicated in the joint statement issued after the bilateral summit last September, there is no doubt that the two leaders were in agreement that the terms of the TPP accord would be the limit of the concessions Japan would be able to make, indicating that the U.S. understands that the trade talks will proceed on the basis of this joint statement.

NHK also reported on Foreign Minister Kono's comments on the President's TPP remark, which he gave at a session of the Upper House Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense this morning. Kono was quoted as saying that the U.S. is indeed not bound by the terms of the TPP since it is not a member, but the trade talks "will be conducted to reach an agreement within the TPP framework, as stated in the Japan-U.S. joint statement issued last September." He further denied that Japan asked the U.S. not to press for a trade agreement before the Upper House election this summer.

NHK also reported online that commenting on the remark about an August announcement, METI Minister Seko stated at a news conference this morning that he understood this to be an expression of the President's hope for the talks to move forward quickly and that his original language did not indicate anything has been decided about the substance or timing of an announcement.

Emperor, Empress bid farewell to President Trump at his hotel

NHK, NTV, and Kyodo News reported that Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako visited the hotel in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, where President Trump was staying after 9:00 a.m. this morning to say goodbye to him and the First Lady. They were met at the entrance by Ambassador and Mrs. Hagerty. The President reportedly repeatedly expressed his gratitude for the hospitality he was afforded and invited the Imperial couple to visit him at the White House. Kyodo noted that it is customary for the Imperial couple to greet state guests on the last day of their stay in Japan. TBS aired a similar story.

President Trump departs Japan

NHK reported that President Trump departed on Air Force One from Haneda Airport for home just after 1:00 p.m. today, concluding his four-day visit to Japan.

Editorial: The deferred test of Abe-Trump ties (The Japan Times)

Editorial: Japan, U.S. show a commitment to stand united on the resolution of "abduction" issue (Sankei)

Editorial: How Japan navigates relations with U.S. and China is critical (Tokyo Shimbun)

Commentary: Is Trump's state visit only ceremonial? (The Japan Times)

Trump's Japan trip via social media: golf, sumo and a death wish (Nikkei Asian Review)

Editorial: ROK government must work toward breaking impasse in Japan relations (The Japan News)

Editorial: Modi's mandate (The Japan Times)

Commentary: The Japan-Bangladesh partnership for development (The Japan Times)


Op-ed: Fostering tight connections and mutual prosperity (The Japan Times)


Editorial: Easy path of managed trade will not serve Japan or U.S. (Nikkei)

Expert: Japan doesn't need to rush to reach agreement in trade talks with U.S. (Asahi)

Japan downgrades prospects for economy due to China-U.S. trade war (The Japan Times)

Trump drives hard bargain in Japan at honeymoon summit (Nikkei Asian Review)

Editorial: Japan gov't 'moderate economic recovery' assessment at odds with reality (The Mainichi)

Japan's domestic demand 'solid' despite trade war: Motegi (Nikkei Asian Review)

As a rare ally on good terms with Trump, Japan has the chance to raise its global standing (The Japan Times)

FOCUS: Sputtering economy creates uncertainty over Abe's tax hike plan (Kyodo News)

Japan remains world's biggest creditor at end of 2018 (Kyodo News)

Editorial: Is Japan gov't going to sit by as companies delay Huawei mobile sales? (The Mainichi)

McDonald's Japan ordered to pay 21 mil. yen over improper labeling (Kyodo News)


Parts of ASDF F-35 fighter found underwater

NHK reported online that Defense Minister Iwaya announced today that parts of the engine and wings of the Air Self-Defense Force F-35 fighter that crashed in waters off Aomori Prefecture on April 9 have been recovered. He said that the parts were badly damaged and there are still objects that appear to be parts of the F-35 concentrated in the area that is now the focus of the search operation. He also stated that investigations into the cause of the accident are proceeding steadily despite the fact that the aircraft's flight recorder has yet to be found.

Japan allegedly asked President Trump to visit Japanese warship

On President Trump's visit to JMSDF Kaga this morning, TV Asahi claimed that for several years the Abe administration had been trying to arrange for the U.S. leader to visit a Japanese destroyer in a bid to demonstrate to him that Tokyo is committed to boosting Japan's military forces in coordination with the U.S. military. As the Japanese destroyer and its sister ship will soon be refitted to accommodate F35s, the report said the President was given an opportunity to witness firsthand Japan's accelerated efforts to operate a military platform that can house several of the U.S.-made stealth fighters, which Japan plans to introduce at a total price of above 2 trillion yen ($1.83 billion). The GOJ reportedly hoped that with his visit to Kaga the President would learn of Tokyo's intention to procure American defense equipment in large volumes and hence mitigate trade pressure on Japan. The GOJ was also reportedly hopeful that its efforts to steadily empower its self-defense forces would enable the U.S. to divert some of its military resources away from North Korea to deal with China and Iran, which the broadcaster speculated are areas of more pressing concern for the Trump administration at the moment.

Japan calls off defense ministerial meeting with South Korea

Yomiuri reported that Defense Minister Iwaya has decided not to hold talks with his ROK counterpart in Singapore on the margins of the annual Shangri La Dialogue that starts on May 31 based on the assessment that such a meeting would be premature as the bilateral dispute over a South Korean warship's radar illumination of an MSDF patrol plane may command renewed attention. However, a trilateral defense ministers' session also involving Acting Defense Secretary Shanahan will probably be convened as planned, and the Japanese official is also expected to meet separately with the Chinese defense chief on the sidelines on June 1.

Concern grows over how G20 security preparations will impact Osaka (The Japan Times)


Prime minister's schedule on May 24, 2019 (Sankei)

Prime minister's schedule on May 25, 2019 (Sankei)

Prime minister's schedule on May 26, 2019 (Sankei)

Prime minister's schedule on May 27, 2019 (Sankei)

Highlights of Japan-related events scheduled for May 27-June 2 (Kyodo News)


TV viewer rating hits 26.3% on last day of sumo tournament (Tokyo Shimbun, Evening edition)

27 rescued from human trafficking in Japan in 2018 (Kyodo News)

Olympics: 2011 "Miracle Pine" on Tokyo 2020 torch itinerary (Kyodo News)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team