Afternoon Alert   -   Friday, July 12, 2019
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Noon news

NHK, NTV, TV Asahi, and TBS led with reports on the release this morning of a statement by Prime Minister Abe expressing profound remorse for the suffering of the forcibly segregated Hansen's disease patients and their family members and pledging compensation as well as a government statement on the legal issues in the court ruling ordering government compensation. Fuji TV reported on the arrival this morning of ROK officials for the first working-level talks with Japan on semiconductor material export controls.


U.S. avoids taking stand on Japan-ROK export control dispute

NHK reported today that with the ROK embarking on a diplomatic offensive to gain the U.S.'s support in its dispute with Japan on semiconductor material exports, sending senior officials to Washington for meetings with U.S. officials, the U.S. has refrained from taking a stand on this issue. NHK said that according to the ROK media, deputy national security chief Kim Hyun-jong met with White House deputy chief of staff Mulvaney and USTR Lighthizer, while the ROK Foreign Ministry's Director-General for Bilateral Economic Affairs Kim Hee-sang met with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Korea and Japan Knapper, but the U.S. has not disclosed the contents of these meetings. In a news conference yesterday, State Department spokesperson Ortagus merely emphasized that the U.S. will do everything possible to strengthen the U.S.-Japan-ROK relationship and did not comment on this issue. TV Asahi, TBS, and Fuji TV also reported today on the news conference, with TBS pointing out that Ortagus would not even answer a question on whether the U.S. has been in communication with Japan concerning this dispute and TV Asahi noting that the U.S. has not criticized Japan's export curbs.

Kim Jong Un becomes "head of state" under DPRK's amended constitution

NTV reported on Thursday evening that yesterday the North Korean government's propaganda website carried the full text of the DPRK constitution amended last April. The constitution defines the chairman of the State Affairs Commission, the position Kim Jong Un currently holds, as the "supreme leader representing the state," effectively making Kim the head of state. NTV observed that since Kim already wields absolute power, this move is reckoned to be aimed at enhancing his authority in international affairs as he becomes more active in the diplomatic arena.

Japan irked by S. Korea's talks with U.S. on export controls (Jiji Press)

"Looking forward to deepening Japan-U.S. alliance," visiting DOS assistant secretary (Nikkei)

DOS assistant secretary visits Japan for the first time (Yomiuri)

Coordination underway for Assistant Secretary Stilwell to visit Misawa (Too Nippou evening edition)

U.S. coalition plan puts Japan in hot seat amid rising tensions over Iran (The Japan News)

Japan prepares for U.S. request to join patrols in Strait of Hormuz (The Asahi Shimbun)

Four legal frameworks related to Japan's participation in coalition to ensure security in waters off Iran (Sankei)

Editorial: Hurry to consider international cooperation in safeguarding tankers (Nikkei)

South Korea-Japan row rages on, this time over export details (Nikkei Asian Review)

Boycott of Japanese products gradually growing in S. Korea (Jiji Press)

Commentary: Abe's art of the deal with Russia (The Japan Times)


Interview: AIIB to begin lending in baht, rupiah and rupee, president says (Nikkei Asian Review)

Japan, China biz executives affirm cooperation for free trade (Jiji Press)

Mitsubishi Heavy to make offshore wind turbines in US and Asia (Nikkei Asian Review)

Editorial: Establish tighter distribution controls to protect wagyu beef (The Japan News)


Prime minister's schedule on July 11, 2019 (Sankei)

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

Editorial: Remember graying of population in debate over consumption tax hike (The Japan News)

Editorial: Ruling bloc's failure to field more female election candidates a disgrace (The Mainichi)


Hayabusa2 successfully collects 1st-ever subsurface samples: JAXA (Kyodo News)

Unless Japan takes action, it will no longer be able to draw strength from science and technology (Bungeishunju)


Abe apologizes to kin of leprosy patients for their suffering (Kyodo News)

Commentary: Courts should be involved in detention of foreigners (Mainichi)


Okinawa to sue state again over landfill work for U.S. base (Jiji Press)

FOCUS: Japan braces for complex cyber threats ahead of 2020 Tokyo Games (Kyodo News)


Illegal taxi service operated by U.S. military personnel highly organized

Okinawa Times led with a follow-up story on the illegal taxi service involving U.S. military members, noting that their operation has been conducted in a highly organized manner using several social media accounts. There were reportedly at least five Facebook accounts that allegedly offered passenger transport services at fares substantially lower than those of local commercial taxi companies, with some reportedly having as many as 4,000 followers. Pointing out that these accounts were reportedly staffed by vehicle dispatchers and that one of them had as many as 20 drivers, the daily underscored the systemic nature of the operation. As the use of the illegal taxi service appeared to be common within the U.S. military community, the daily wrote in a separate piece that Japanese taxi operators and drivers are upset about the loss of business.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team