Afternoon Alert   -   Tuesday, January 7, 2020
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Noon news

NHK led with a story saying several U.S. media outlets have reported on a letter sent by mistake from the U.S. military to Iraq saying that the United States was repositioning forces for departure from the country. The network said Defense Secretary Esper held an emergency press conference to deny the report. NTV and TV Asahi gave top play to reports that Carlos Ghosn told a Fox Business program anchor last weekend that he has "actual evidence" that will prove his arrest was a "coup" by people including GOJ officials to take him down. Ghosn reportedly said he plans to disclose the names of those involved at a press conference in Lebanon on Jan. 8. TBS led with a report that according to the Financial Times, a former UK service member was involved in Ghosn's escape. Fuji TV reported on a statement released by Nissan Motor today expressing regret for the Ghosn affair.


Senior GOJ officials comment on Middle East situation

NHK reported on its website that Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga commented on the announcement by the Iranian government that it will no longer abide by the commitments it made under the 2015 nuclear deal and will reinforce its nuclear enrichment program. Suga reportedly said: "Our nation supports the nuclear deal. The announcement by Iran is regrettable and we are very concerned. We will urge Iran to abide by the nuclear deal and fully cooperate with the IAEA." He reportedly went on to say: "We will continue to work with relevant nations and international organizations and make diplomatic efforts to ease tensions and bring stability to the Middle East." Concerning Japan's plan to deploy SDF assets to the Middle East, Suga reportedly said: "We are closely monitoring the situation in the Middle East with a sense of urgency. We will continue to work to obtain the understanding of relevant nations concerning the purpose of deploying the SDF." Meanwhile, on the U.S. military's killing of an Iranian commander, Suga reportedly said: "I should refrain from commenting since I am not the party in charge and not in a position to fully grasp the details."

The network also quoted Defense Minister Kono as telling reporters today: "It is true that tensions are rising in the Middle East, but many nations are calling on the U.S. and Iran to exercise restraint. It is unlikely that this will develop into a major conflict, but various things could happen." In addition, Kono reportedly commented on the cabinet decision to deploy SDF assets to the Middle East last month. He said: "At this point, we don't expect to change the cabinet decision."

Iranian ambassador to Japan calls U.S. attack "declaration of war"

TBS reported this morning on its exclusive interview with Iranian Ambassador to Japan Rahmani conducted at the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Japan on Monday. Regarding Soleimani's death, the ambassador reportedly said: "Like millions of people in Iran, I was very shocked and saddened by the news. This act of terrorism and assassination committed by the U.S. runs counter to international laws and norms." Rahmani also reportedly said: "The U.S. act was a declaration of war." Noting that many Iranians held up yellow flags saying "We are ready anytime" during the march on Monday to mourn the death of Soleimani, the network quoted the Iranian ambassador as saying: "The sentiment is that we should unite and fight back against the act of terrorism and assassination committed by the U.S. We think Iran has a legitimate right to fight back or take retaliatory measures." When asked what kind of retaliation Iran is considering, the ambassador reportedly responded: "I don't know the details, but an attack will definitely take place as a concrete measure at the right place and the right time."

President Moon calls on Japan to rescind export controls

NHK reported this morning that South Korean President Moon delivered a televised New Year's speech today where he said: "Japan is our closest neighbor. We will further develop the bilateral cooperative relationship in a future-oriented manner." In addition, the South Korean leader reiterated his position to call for Japan to review its tightened control on exports to South Korea by saying: "If Japan rescinds its export control measures, the bilateral relationship will develop faster." All commercial networks carried similar reports.

Suga dismisses idea of launching consultative body on forced labor dispute

Mainichi reported online on remarks made on a TV news show last night by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga regarding an idea put forward by the lawyers of former requisitioned workers to establish a forum composed of political and business leaders of the two countries to discuss how to resolve the dispute. Suga reportedly dismissed the suggestion by saying: "We are not interested at all." The government spokesperson underscored that since the dispute was settled under the 1965 compensation pact, Tokyo has no intention to offer a fresh proposal.

Strongly concerned" Japan urges Iran to abide by nuclear deal (Kyodo News)

Citizens hold anti-war in front of U.S. Embassy in Tokyo (Asahi)

Commentary: Japan Political Pulse: Power of words key to future diplomacy independent of U.S. (The Mainichi)

Editorial: Large-scale conflict must be avoided (Sankei)

Commentary: The ominous killing of Soleimani (The Japan Times)

INTERVIEW – Jim Auer: Japan-U.S. 'extremely important' for Asia-Pacific security (Japan Forward)

Commentary: Work together with Japanese-Americans (Nikkei)

Commentary: Identifying Trump's weak points (The Japan Times)


Japan worried about Middle East tensions ahead of SDF mission (Jiji Press)

High level of unsafe chemicals found in well near Yokota base (The Asahi Shimbun)


Gov't continue to promote IR: Suga (Mainichi)

Interview: JXTG to diversify oil procurement amid Middle East tensions (Jiji Press)

Tokyo stocks plunge, yen climbs on rising Middle East tensions (Kyodo News)

Middle East tensions spark concern over oil supply in Japan (Jiji Press)

64% opposed to creation of integrated resorts, Nihon Yoron Chosakai poll (Tokyo Shimbun)

Opinion poll & results from Nihon Yoron Chosakai poll (Tokyo Shimbun)

50% of business leaders have cautious view of Japan's economy, Yomiuri poll of executives at 30 firms (The Japan News)

Mizuho sets up investment fund for life science startups (Jiji Press)

Commentary – Japan's foreign exchange law: New curbs on global investors won't serve Japan's broader national interests (The Japan Times)

Commentary – Japan's foreign exchange law: Stricter investment rules a boon to allies, economic security (The Japan Times)

Japan looks to spur investment with step-by-step registration guide (Nikkei Asian Review)

Taiwan wind project gets boost from Japan government and banks (Nikkei Asian Review)

Fukushima to export dried persimmons to UAE on trial basis (Jiji Press)

Editorial: Restore trust in social security system, reinforce finances (The Japan News)


Prime minister's schedule on January 6, 2020 (Sankei)

New year's reflection by the Prime Minister (Kantei Website)

U.S. and China on cusp of new cold war, Abe deputy says (Nikkei Asian Review)

CDP chief Edano rules out endless talks on merger, cautions DPP (The Asahi Shimbun)

Katayama named Japan's ambassador to Moldova (Jiji Press)

Japan lawmaker admits accepting money in casino scandal (Kyodo News)


Most major Japanese firms likely to take steps to beat Olympic congestion, Mainichi poll of 122 major companies (The Mainichi)


Japanese icebreaker Shirase reaches Showa base in Antarctica (Jiji Press)

Japan deploys robots to tackle beaches strewn with plastic waste (Nikkei Asian Review)

Gov't plans to develop upgraded AI interpreter (The Japan News)


Japan to develop app detecting forged residence cards for foreigners (Kyodo News)

Japan makes large luggage inspection mandatory for private jets (Kyodo News)

Japan justice chief vows to pursue Ghosn and tighten checks to prevent a repeat (The Japan Times)

Japan reviewing bail system after Ghosn's escape (Jiji Press)

Editorial: Fugitive Ghosn must be returned to stand trial in Japan (The Asahi Shimbun)

Use of 'gateway drug' MDMA on the rise among young Japanese (The Asahi Shimbun)

Editorial: Japan should squarely face reality of population decline (The Mainichi)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team