Afternoon Alert   -   Friday, January 3, 2020
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Noon news

NHK gave top play to a report that the number of year-end travelers returning home is expected to increase starting today. TBS and Fuji TV led with reports that a French broadcaster showed a photo of former Nissan Motor Chairman Carlos Ghosn and cwife that is believed to have been taken on Dec. 31 at the residence of a female acquaintance of his in Lebanon.


Tension increases with U.S. airstrikes near Baghdad Airport

Asahi reported on its website that Major General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was killed in an airstrike by the U.S. military near Baghdad International Airport on Friday. The daily said the Pentagon released a statement acknowledging the death of Soleimani and Iran confirmed his death. Noting that Soleimani was viewed as a hero in Iran, the paper said tension between the U.S. and Iran is set to rise as a result of his death. The Department of Defense reportedly issued a statement saying: "At the direction of the President, the U.S. military has taken decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing Qassem Soleimani." The Pentagon reportedly pointed out that Soleimani has been actively pursuing a plan to attack U.S. diplomats and service members and spearheaded attacks against an Iraqi military base at the end of December last year that killed an American and wounded others. Asahi also said that Soleimani was a prominent anti-U.S. hard-line conservative and enjoyed wide support from the public in Iran. Noting that some thought Soleimani would become the next president, the daily said Iran is highly likely to retaliate against the U.S.

Japan faces a diplomatic balancing act in 2020 as it seeks to manage ties with the U.S. and China (The Japan Times)

Commentary: Japan's diplomacy entering unknown, difficult area (Nikkei)


Analysis: North Korean missiles again flying over Japan 'only a matter of time,' experts say (The Japan Times)

MSDF destroyers to widen internet access in effort to attract recruits (The Asahi Shimbun)

"Seiron" column: Japan should adopt "new defense" concept for 2020s (Sankei)


Japan firms growing pessimistic about economy amid U.S.-China spat (Kyodo News)

Japanese business leaders cite challenges for 2020 (Jiji Press)

Editorial: World will surely enjoy discovering distinctive tastes of Japanese sake (The Japan News)

Post-Olympic economic slump unlikely to hit Japan, experts say (The Japan Times)


Prime minister's schedule on January 1 – 2, 2020 (Sankei)

Olympics to be 'crown jewel' of what may be Abe's final stretch in office (The Japan Times)


Japan's pressing regional affairs to unfold quietly in shadow of Olympics (The Japan Times)

Ghosn's Japan escape involved 2 private security operatives: friend (Kyodo News)


U.S. marine arrested for assault in Okinawa (Ryukyu Shimpo)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team