JAPAN MEDIA HIGHLIGHTS
Afternoon Alert   -   Tuesday, December 31, 2019
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HEADLINES

Noon news

All broadcasters led with reports on former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn's alleged flight to Lebanon apparently in violation of a bail arrangement set by the Tokyo District Court.

INTERNATIONAL

DPRK determined to endure "another, arduous, protracted struggle"

NHK and all national papers posted articles online on a Korean Central News Agency report on the third day of the conference of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea in Pyongyang, during which Chairman Kim allegedly said the party leadership has decided to prepare for "another, arduous, and protracted struggle" so as to enable his people to "live well." The media outlets conjectured that the DPRK leader suggested with this remark that he will not compromise at all in the denuclearization talks with the U.S. and hence urged his nation to prepare for the continuation of international sanctions. In his "comprehensive policy remarks," Kim also reportedly announced his intention to take "positive and offensive political, diplomatic and military countermeasures for firmly preserving the sovereignty and security of the country." He also reiterated his commitment to "removing all challenges and difficulties that stand in the way of our progress." According to the reports, the meeting is still going on today.

Suspicion of illegal ship-to-ship transfers of goods by NAM SAN 8, North Korean-flagged tanker, and a small vessel of unknown nationality (MOFA Website)

China planned sending of patrol ships to near Senkakus from 2006 (Kyodo News)

Commentary: Beacons in the stormy seas of 2020 (The Japan Times)

China launched 'a record 9 destroyers' in '19 (The Japan News)

Cartoon: Shades of the annexation (Akahata)

Tokyo pressed El Salvador to prevent Beijing influence over port (Kyodo News)

SOCIETY

Carlos Ghosn allegedly left Japan in violation of bail arrangement

All TV networks cited foreign media reports alleging that former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn jumped bail and arrived in his homeland of Lebanon by Monday. While noting that the former auto executive was supposed to remain in Japan until his trial, the local outlets said it was not immediately clear how he evaded the Japanese authorities. Ghosn's chief defense counsel Hironaka reportedly said he had not asked the court to allow his client to leave Japan. The Tokyo prosecutors' office and the Justice Ministry both stressed that they are investigating Ghosn's alleged flight.

Claiming that Japan's Immigration Services Agency has no record of Ghosn's recent departure from the country, NHK conjectured that he may have used a false name. The broadcaster also speculated that Beirut might not heed a Japanese request to take Ghosn into custody since Japan does not have an extradition treaty with Lebanon. The network quoted an unnamed senior MOFA official as saying: "Ghosn is not allowed to leave Japan.... If it turns out to be true that he has arrived in Lebanon, his flight will need to be discussed by the two nations' justice authorities."

NHK later added that according to an unnamed Lebanese security official, a person who appeared to be Carlos Ghosn arrived at the Beirut International Airport on a private jet. "The person entered the country under a different name," the source said. "The name was not Carlos Ghosn." According to TV Asahi, Ghosn's spokesman has acknowledged that Ghosn is now in Lebanon and will soon release a statement on his flight. Ghosn is likely to end up having to forfeit a total of \1.5 billion ($13.8 million) in bail payments.

POLITICS

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

Abe meets with top foreign affairs, defense bureaucrats more frequently than his predecessors did (Nikkei)

Abe remembers 2019 as "tough year" (Jiji Press)

Beat reporters see decrease in Abe's responses to questions (Jiji Press)

Commentary: Abe's foreign policy outlook for 2020 (The Japan Times)

How socialism and the left wing failed in Japan (The Japan Times)

LDP rejects off-session Diet meeting over casino resort scandal (Jiji Press)

OPINION POLLS

Highlights of December 2019 Jiji Press Public Opinion Poll (Jiji Press Public Opinion Poll Bulletin)

ECONOMY

Indian subway operator taps Japanese adviser for expansion (Nikkei Asian Review)

ANA offers foreign tourists cheap flights to Japan's parts unseen (Nikkei Asian Review)

SCIENCE

Japan low altitude satellite registered in Guinness World Records (Kyodo News)

Japanese makers pounce on surgical robot opportunity (Nikkei Asian Review)

Editorial: Collective action needed to meet existential threats (The Japan Times)

Warmth of local community nurtures children at Yokosuka orphanage (Kanagawa Shimbun)

Carlos Ghosn flies to Lebanon despite awaiting trial in Japan (Nikkei Asian Review)

"Country Gold," the sound of America's soul in Aso (Nikkei)

JAPAN MEDIA HIGHLIGHTS
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