Afternoon Alert   -   Wednesday, January 15, 2020
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Noon news

NHK and TV Asahi led with reports that this morning the Hiroshima prosecutors raided the office of LDP member Anri Kawai, the wife of former justice minister Katsuyuki Kawai, on suspicion of violating the Public Offices Election Law by paying staff members a daily allowance in excess of the permissible amount during the Upper House election last year. NTV and TBS gave top coverage to reports that a man who barricaded himself inside a shipping company in Shimane was arrested this morning. Fuji TV gave top coverage to a report that Japanese badminton player Momota who was injured in a traffic accident in Malaysia will return to Japan this afternoon.


DM Kono says China needs to improve its behavior ahead of Xi's visit to Japan

NHK reported this afternoon that Defense Minister Kono delivered a speech at CSIS in Washington in which he said China needs to improve its behavior in order for Japan to welcome Chinese leader Xi as a state guest. He was quoted as saying: "We are planning to welcome President Xi Jinping as a state guest this spring. We want to extend a heartfelt welcome to President Xi when he visits Japan. China needs to work harder to improve the situation." According to the network, Kono pointed out that Chinese government vessels enter the contiguous zone near the Senkaku Islands daily and territorial waters near the Senkakus three times a month. He also pointed out that China is continually attempting to unilaterally change the status quo in the East China Sea by forceful means, and that Japan cannot overlook such aggressive behavior. The defense chief also said, "If China makes light of the international norms" such as freedom and democracy, "they have to pay the cost." He added: "We need to create an environment where the cost will be imposed on China in cooperation with the international community."

Secretary Pompeo, FM Motegi agree on importance of diplomatic efforts

All networks reported on a meeting between Secretary of State Pompeo and Foreign Minister Motegi in a San Francisco suburb on Tuesday. Concerning the Middle East, Motegi reportedly told the Secretary: "I am deeply concerned about the heightened tension. Japan is calling on all parties concerned to make diplomatic efforts to ease tensions and highly values the restrained response of the U.S." The Secretary reportedly responded by saying: "We appreciate Japan's efforts." After the meeting, Motegi told reporters: "We had in-depth discussions on the situation in the Middle East. I will continue to make tenacious diplomatic efforts." According to an NHK reporter, a GOJ source stressed that the bilateral meeting was significant as the Japanese side was able to directly urge the U.S. to exercise restraint at this juncture. The reporter added that when talking to the press after the meeting, Motegi showed consideration for Iran by using the phrase "exchange of views" instead of the phrase "to work closely," which he frequently uses during meetings with U.S. interlocutors. Noting that both nations share a desire to avoid war, the reporter said Motegi is set to continue to call for diplomatic efforts to resolve issues.

All networks reported that prior to his meeting with the Secretary, Motegi attended a trilateral foreign ministerial meeting with the U.S. and the Republic of Korea, where they expressed support for the continued U.S.-DPRK talks toward North Korea's complete denuclearization. According to NHK, they also agreed that relaxing the UNSC sanctions on North Korea would be premature and that their steady implementation is important. They also confirmed close trilateral cooperation.

Japan, ROK foreign ministers remain at odds over requisitioned worker issue

NHK, TBS, and TV Asahi reported at noon on a meeting between FM Motegi and his South Korean counterpart Kang in a San Francisco suburb on Tuesday. NHK said that although Motegi urged the ROK government to act responsibly by rectifying the state of violation of international law and present a solution to the issue of former requisitioned workers, the South Korean side did not present a solution, adding that the discussions ended with no progress.

LDP's Kishida: Japan, U.S. made tireless efforts to maintain trust (Mainichi)

Japan's new emperor plans state visit to Britain in spring (Kyodo News)

Japan expands diplomatic footprint to handle visitor growth (Nikkei Asian Review)

Commentary: What won't happen in the world in 2020 (The Japan Times)

Editorial: China must respect Taiwan's desire for distance (Nikkei Asian Review)


U.S., Japan to examine ways to address issue of PFOS detected near U.S. bases in Japan

NHK reported online that following the detection of a high concentration of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and other types of organic fluorine compounds near U.S. bases in Okinawa and other parts of Japan, the governments of the U.S. and Japan have decided to examine ways to cooperate and address the issue. The network said DM Kono exchanged views with Secretary Esper at the Pentagon on the issue of organic fluorine compounds detected near U.S. bases in Okinawa and Yokota AB in Tokyo. According to the network, the two ministers also confirmed that local understanding and cooperation are essential to maintain the readiness of the USFJ amid the increasingly severe security environment surrounding Japan.

Gov't to disburse 500 million yen from reserve fund to dispatch SDF to Middle East (Mainichi)

Law to provide financial support for drone development (The Asahi Shimbun)


Top Japanese businessman says thaw in Sino-U.S. relations unlikely

Nikkei reported online on press remarks made on Tuesday by Keidanren Chairman Nakanishi, who commented on the Trump administration's cancellation of its designation of China as a currency manipulator. "I doubt this constitutes a thaw," said the leading executive. "Their competition for hegemony, including in high tech, will remain unchanged." He projected that economic friction between the world's two largest economies will become prolonged due in part to the U.S.'s plan next month to adopt new regulations on foreign investment in accordance with the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act.

Japan not excepted from new U.S. regulations on foreign investment (Jiji)


Prime minister's schedule on January 14, 2020 (Sankei)

Commentary: Evaluating Abe's diplomacy in 3 ways (The Japan News)

Aso apologizes for remarks about Japan's historical unity (Kyodo News)


Abe cabinet support at 44%, nonsupport at 38%, NHK public opinion poll (NHK digital)

Over 70% "interested" in Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, NHK public opinion poll (NHK digital)

Cabinet and political party support rates, NHK public opinion poll (NHK digital)


Editorial: Humanities-science cooperation essential in AI age (The Mainichi)


Environment Minister Koizumi to take paternity leave

All networks reported that Minister for the Environment Koizumi announced his wish to take parental leave for two weeks after the birth of his first child. His wife is due this month. He was quoted as saying: "Not only do I need to change the system but also the atmosphere. Otherwise we will see no increase in the number of public servants taking parental leave...On the condition that I will give priority to public service and crisis management, I would like to take a total of two weeks of parental leave in a flexible manner during the first three months after my wife gives birth when there is a huge burden on the mother." The network said that while taking parental leave, Koizumi is planning to hold televised meetings and have his deputies and staff handle some of his duties on his behalf.

Tokyo 2020 launches second ticket lottery for Paralympic Games (The Japan Times)

Chinese student arrested for forging GSDF ID (NHK WORLD)

Laotian held in Japan for trying to export ivory taken from zoo (Jiji Press)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team