Afternoon Alert   -   Thursday, October 31, 2019
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Noon news

NHK led with a report on Justice Minister Katsuyuki Kawai's resignation this morning over alleged election violations by his wife.

All commercial networks led with reports on the fire at Shuri Castle in Naha, Okinawa, this morning. The fire burned down six buildings on the castle grounds, including the main hall and the north and south halls, and damaged 4,200 square meters on the site. The police are investigating the cause of the fire. NHK reported online that at a meeting with Foreign Minister Motegi today, Admiral Davidson, the commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, reportedly said that he expresses heartfelt sympathy to the people of Okinawa and Japan for the fire at Shuri Castle. The network said that he also expressed sympathy for the damage caused by the recent typhoons that hit Japan and said the Indo-Pacific Command can provide assistance to Japan anytime it is needed.


Justice minister steps down over wife's alleged election law breach

All networks reported on Justice Minister Katsuyuki Kawai's resignation this morning after the weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun alleged that the office of the minister's wife, Anri Kawai, who is a member of the House of Councillors, made payments to her campaign staff that exceeded the legal limit. Prime Minister Abe has appointed former Minister of State for Measures for Declining Birthrate Masako Mori as Kawai's replacement.

Kawai told reporters after meeting with PM Abe at the Kantei to tender his resignation that he decided to step down this morning based on the view that public trust in judicial administration should not be lost even for a minute. He added that neither he nor his wife was aware of the allegation and that he will provide a full explanation to the public when he learns the details. Abe told reporters afterward that he feels responsible for creating the situation because he appointed Kawai as justice minister and deeply apologizes to the people of Japan.

The networks speculated that Kawai's resignation will deal a heavy blow to the Abe administration, which has now lost its second cabinet member in less than a week following Trade Minister Sugawara's resignation last Friday over a money scandal. Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan Secretary-General Fukuyama told reporters that the Abe cabinet should resign en masse. TBS and Fuji TV speculated that the two resignations may weaken Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga's clout in the cabinet because both politicians are close to him.

Justice minister to quit over wife's alleged election law breach (Kyodo News)

PROFILE: Justice minister Mori a flagbearer for women's empowerment (Kyodo News)

Gist of interpellations at Lower House Committee on Education, Oct. 30, 2019 (Asahi)

Prime minister's schedule on October 30, 2019 (Sankei)


"South Korea violated international law," CCS Suga (Yomiuri)

Editorial: Japan and South Korea need more dialogue — and compromise — soon (Nikkei Asian Review)

South Korean civic group sets up "anti-Japan street" sign near Japan's consulate-general (Yomiuri)

Abe mulls holding talks with China's Li in Thailand (Kyodo News)

Japan, India eyeing "2-plus-2" meeting at end of Nov. (Jiji Press)


Editorial: Administration distorting facts to make PM Abe's comments on trade pact appear accurate (Mainichi)

Japan is going all-in on casinos. Will the gamble pay off? (The Japan Times)

Any economic benefits of casinos come at far too steep of a price (The Japan Times)

Casinos are misunderstood and a needed part of destination resorts (The Japan Times)

Japan's September industrial output rises 1.4% on month (Kyodo News)

Japan suppliers break out of traditional auto groups to bulk up (Nikkei Asian Review)


Gov't to sell satellite data platform to private sector (Nikkei)


Editorial: The world has lost a moral force (The Japan Times)

Editorial: Ogata, working on the scene, set today's pattern of aid to refugees (The Japan News)

International Olympic Committee meeting kicks off amid tensions with Tokyo over unexpectedly relocated events (The Japan Times)

Drones used in Ikata N-plant disaster drill (Jiji Press)


DM Kono expresses displeasure about not being able to have contact with U.S. counterpart (Tokyo Shimbun)

LDP approves one-year extension of SDF dispatch to Sinai Peninsula (Yomiuri)

Japan SDF scrambles aircraft 470 times in April-Sept. (Jiji Press)


Okinawa lodges protest against parachute training at Kadena

Okinawa Times and Ryukyu Shimpo front-paged reports saying that Okinawa Vice Governor Jahana filed a protest with MOFA Ambassador to Okinawa Kawamura and MOD Okinawa Bureau Director-General Tanaka against the parachute drop training that the U.S. military conducted at Kadena Air Base on Tuesday. The papers noted that this was the fourth time for the U.S. military to conduct parachute drills at Kadena this year.

In a related story, Ryukyu Shimpo front-paged a report on a statement released by the USFJ on Wednesday saying: "Poor weather at Ie Shima required moving training to Kadena and met the requirements of the agreement." The paper added that Lt. Gen. Schneider, USFJ Commander, said: "Yesterday's parachute training is critical to sustaining the readiness of the units involved, and we appreciate the understanding and support of the Japanese people." The paper speculated that the USFJ issued the statement in response to the media's broad coverage of Defense Minister Kono's comment criticizing the training. Okinawa Times ran a similar report on an inside page.

U.S. airman lands in undesignated area during parachute training on Ie Island (Okinawa Times, Ryukyu Shimpo)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team