Afternoon Alert   -   Wednesday, December 4, 2019
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Noon news

Top items on noon news programs included a severe blizzard in Hokkaido, President Trump's remarks calling for Japan to pay more of the cost of stationing U.S. troops, and the DPRK Workers Party's plan to convene in late December a key conference to "debate and decide a serious issue." The networks speculated that the Kim regime may decide to resume testing nuclear devices or ICBMs in a bid to press the U.S. to make concessions in denuclearization talks.


Diet clears U.S.-Japan trade bills

All commercial broadcasters and national dailies reported the House of Councillors approved the GOJ legislation on the U.S.-Japan trade deal today, saying the two agreements are expected to take effect on Jan. 1. Nikkei said as a result of the effectuation of the trade pacts, the proportion of Japan's trade covered by bilateral and multilateral FTAs and EPAs in monetary terms will amount to 52% of its overall trade. Explaining Japan will clear the 50% benchmark for the first time since it decided to proactively seek free trade deals with foreign partners some 20 years ago, the business daily said Japan can finally be categorized as a "trading nation."

Gov't to support exports of industrial products on overseas e-commerce sites (Nikkei)

Japan to set up $450m fund to subsidize young scientists (Nikkei Asian Review)

Japan new auto sales slump 12.7 pct in Nov. (Jiji Press)

Business confidence continues to deteriorate, Asahi Shimbun survey of 100 leading companies (Asahi)

Almost 60% taking forward-looking stance on Japan-U.S. trade pact, Asahi Shimbun survey of 100 leading companies (Asahi)

Chilly Japan-ROK ties also having negative impact on corporate performance, Asahi Shimbun survey of 100 leading companies (Asahi)

Opinion poll & results from Asahi Shimbun survey of 100 leading companies (Asahi)

JAL signs partnership agreement with UCLA (NIKKEI Business Daily)

Newly-elected ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa's agenda: Poverty, population, education, welfare (Japan Forward)

Narita to eliminate landing fees on new routes (NHK WORLD)


Iran's foreign minister warns Tokyo against sending SDF assets to Middle East

NHK reported on its exclusive interview with visiting Iranian Vice Foreign Minister Aragchi on Tuesday night in which he reportedly voiced opposition to Japan's plan to deploy assets to the Middle East on a maritime security mission. He was quoted as saying: "We are still waiting for a final decision by the Japanese government, but I don't think any foreign military can contribute to stability, security, or peace in the region." He reportedly conveyed this position to Prime Minister Abe when he called on him earlier in the day. Aragchi reportedly blamed the Trump administration for escalating tensions by reinstating the "strongest" sanctions on Tehran and pulling out of the Iran nuclear agreement. On his country's accelerated moves to enrich uranium in violation of the nuclear deal, he stressed his government is entitled to take "every countermeasure" against U.S. sanctions. "If we cannot benefit from the nuclear accord, we will move to the next phase without fail," he warned.

In a follow-up, NHK reported that Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga told the press this morning that during his meeting with Aragchi yesterday, PM Abe explained Japan's plan to dispatch an SDF unit to the Middle East for "collecting intelligence." The government spokesman suggested the Iranian diplomat did not respond negatively, as claimed by the media. Suga refused to comment on whether Aragchi said President Rohani desired to visit Japan later this month during yesterday's session with Abe.

Editorial: Common enmity shouldn't guide Japan-India ties (The Japan Times)

Editorial: 30 yrs after conclusion of Cold War, stable world order must be rebuilt (The Japan News)

Editorial: 30 years after Cold War, int'l community needs to do more to prevent conflict (The Mainichi)


The abnormal situation of no U.S. envoy to Japan (Sentaku)


Prime minister's schedule on Dec. 3, 2019 (Sankei)


Japanese sensor to hunt for oil and gas from orbit (Nikkei Asian Review)

Hayabusa2 asteroid probe starts return voyage (Jiji Press)


Japan drops in OECD scholastic ranking, China leads in all categories (Kyodo News)


Leading U.S. Democrats voice concern about asking allies to pay more for hosting U.S. military

NHK reported the chairmen of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Armed Services Committee sent a joint letter to the White House expressing concern about President Trump's relentless calls for U.S. allies to pay more for stationing U.S. troops on their soil. Representatives Engel and Smith reportedly stated in the letter that while they agree the allies should pay their fair share, they are concerned by media reports saying the administration has requested that Japan and South Korea drastically increase their contributions. The influential U.S. lawmakers warned such requests may endanger the trilateral partnership, which they insisted must be enhanced to deal with the threats posed by North Korea and China.

On President Trump's reported revelation he pressed Prime Minster Abe to provide greater host nation support for the U.S. military, Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga declined to disclose the details of diplomatic communications between the two leaders. However, he stressed Japan and the U.S. share the costs for U.S. troops "appropriately" based on the bilateral agreement. TBS and Fuji TV aired similar reports, with the former quoting a GOJ source as saying: "The President apparently believes the U.S. has shouldered considerable costs for protecting its allies. He wants Japan to return the favor."

Editorial: Diet debate a must before sending SDF to the Middle East (The Asahi Shimbun)

Japan to require drone registration to find owners following accidents (Kyodo News)


Okinawa politicians lodge protest against mishaps involving U.S. military

Ryukyu Shimpo and Okinawa Times reported a group of Okinawa prefectural assembly members visited the U.S. Consulate General Naha yesterday and filed a protest with Consul General Koepcke over recent issues involving the U.S. military, including a part falling off an MC-130J aircraft in flight, misconduct by service members, and parachute drop training at Kadena AB. According to the assembly members, the U.S. diplomat reportedly apologized for the aircraft mishap by saying it caused anxiety among local residents and said misconduct by service members is unacceptable. However, he dismissed Okinawa's protest over the parachute drop training by explaining it was conducted in accordance with a bilateral agreement.

Chemical contamination of water near bases exceeds U.S. health advisory level (Okinawa Times)

Okinawa town paints sign saying "NO FLY ZONE" on office rooftop (Okinawa Times)

Naha City Assembly passes resolution protesting accidents involving U.S. military (Ryukyu Shimpo)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team