JAPAN MEDIA HIGHLIGHTS
Afternoon Alert   -   Friday, September 25, 2020
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HEADLINES

Noon news

Most networks led with reports on the record rainfall in western Japan. NTV gave top play to a report that a meeting of the GOJ subcommittee on the new coronavirus will be held this afternoon for the first time under Prime Minister Suga. 

INTERNATIONAL

NSS chief Kitamura explains Aegis Ashore alternatives to U.S. counterpart

NHK reported that National Security Secretariat Secretary General Kitamura held talks with National Security Advisor O'Brien on Thursday in Washington and explained that the policy to further strengthen the U.S.-Japan alliance remains unchanged under the Suga Cabinet. He also reportedly said the U.S. and Japan will continue to work closely to strategically promote the "free and open Indo-Pacific" initiative. According to the network, Kitamura explained the alternatives to the canceled Aegis Ashore deployment plan and that the government is working on a new security policy on missile defense. In addition, the network said the two officials exchanged views on bilateral cooperation in economic security and on regional affairs including the security environment in the Indo-Pacific. They reportedly agreed to continue to work together closely.

Suga to talk with Xi this evening amid deepening conflict between U.S., China

TV Asahi reported on a planned teleconference between Prime Minister Suga and Chinese leader Xi slated for this evening. A TV Asahi reporter said it is rare for a Chinese leader to hold a teleconference with a Japanese prime minister, adding that according to a MOFA source, it reflects China's intention to draw closer to Japan. She said attention will be focused on whether the two leaders will discuss Xi's postponed visit to Japan, adding that the GOJ remains cautious about hosting the Chinese leader at this point. The reporter quoted a GOJ source as saying that "it could send the wrong message to neighboring nations if Japan were to embrace an isolated China." She conjectured that the two leaders will first confirm cooperation on common challenges such as the novel coronavirus and North Korea. She opined that while Suga will continue the foreign policy of former Prime Minister Abe based on the U.S.-Japan alliance, he is also hoping to maintain  momentum for rapprochement with China, adding that he is faced with the challenge of how to strategically chart Japan's course amid the deepening conflict between the U.S. and China.

•  N. Korea leader apologizes for shooting death of S. Korean national   (Kyodo News)

•  Indo-Pacific” concept significant, Indian Ambassador Verma   (Sankei)

•  Engaging with U.S., China on an equal basis not possible: Tokyo Univ. prof. Kubo   (Nikkei)

•  Editorial: Trump, Xi trading barbs at U.N. won’t help solve global problems   (The Japan News)

•  Editorial: Lee Teng-hui memorial should spur Japan to stand with the U.S. and Taiwan   (Japan Forward)

•  Japan’s new leadership in a time of virtual diplomacy   (The Japan News)

•  Editorial: U.N. fails to shine at its diamond jubilee   (The Japan Times)

•  Editorial: Thai protests reveal discontent with authoritarian government   (The Japan News)

COVID-19

•  Japan to reopen borders with Singapore, Brunei for expatriates   (Kyodo News)

•  Japan may see resurgence of coronavirus cases, experts warn   (Kyodo News)

•  Tokyo hospital specializing in COVID-19   (NHK WORLD)

•  Suga to take advantage of cross-agency working group in Kantei-led coronavirus response   (Nikkei)

•  Japan trails other nations in quality, quantity of academic papers on COVID-19   (Nikkei)

•  Olympics: Organizers look to cut visiting officials by 10-15%   (Kyodo News)

•  Infographic: Status of gov’t indicators for COVID-19 in Tokyo (Sept. 24, 2020)   (Tokyo Shimbun)

•  Infographic: 81,315 persons in Japan confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 (Sept. 24, 2020)   (NHK digital)

POLITICS

Administrative Reform Minister Kono asks all ministries to stop requiring “hanko” seals

NHK reported that as part of measures to digitize administrative services, Administrative Reform Minister Kono told the press today that he asked all ministries and agencies to reconsider the requirement for documents to be stamped with hanko seals. He reportedly said: "I am planning to continue to call for eliminating the use of seals in all administrative procedures for which such use has no legitimate reason. Even if there are sections on documents that call for seals, people should not be required to stamp them. I want Digital Reform Minister Hirai to think about making these procedures available online."  Kono went on to say that as the next step he wants the government to allow administrative documents to be submitted online rather than as hard copies. According to the Cabinet Office, there are currently about 11,000 types of administrative procedures that require seals. The network said that in response to Kono's call, many ministers expressed their willingness to digitize administrative procedures, including Environment Minister Koizumi, who told the press today that such documents as applications for childcare leave will no longer require seals starting today.

•  Prime minister’s schedule on Sept. 24, 2020   (Sankei)

•  FOCUS: Calls for early general election growing in LDP   (Jiji Press)

•  In appointments of cabinet ministers, party executives, Suga reflects degree of contribution to his LDP leadership race victory   (Nikkei)

•  Foreign Ministry to seek 95.3 billion yen budget for combating COVID-19   (Yomiuri)

•  EXCLUSIVE: Health min. to make record 33-t.-yen budget request   (Jiji Press)

•  District office of Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato paid membership fees to group related to Unification Church   (Akahata)

•  Rookie ‘Ganesha’ lawmakers propelled Suga to become Japan’s PM   (Nikkei Asian Review)

•  Eto to be tapped to lead LDP’s constitutional reform headquarters   (Yomiuri)

•  Cartoon: Take the CDPJ quiz   (Asahi)

ECONOMY

•  Morocco lifts import restrictions on Japan’s food products, 19 countries still impose bans   (Sankei)

•  Ministry of Environment to request 350 million yen for renewable energy on Minamitorishima   (Sankei)

•  California ban on gas-fueled cars spells trouble for Japan automakers   (Nikkei Asian Review)

•  Huawei brings new smartwatches to Japan, despite handset woes   (Nikkei Asian Review)

•  Many fruit plants may be sold abroad without permission   (Jiji Press)

•  JAL, ANA to resume some China flights as virus rules eased   (Kyodo News)

•  Japan expects record business closures for 2020   (NHK WORLD)

•  Coronavirus blamed for 60,000 job losses in Japan   (NHK WORLD)

•  Japan gov’t keeps economic assessment unchanged in Sept.   (Jiji Press)

•  Closer look called for before taking action to lower cellphone bills   (Nikkei Asian Review)

SCIENCE

•  80-billion-yen budget request in the works for lunar probe   (The Asahi Shimbun)

SOCIETY

•  Immigration authority beefing up oversight of foreign workers   (The Asahi Shimbun)

OKINAWA LOCAL PRESS

Okinawa governor rejects Kono’s stance of linking economic development with base issues

Ryukyu Shimpo wrote that during a prefectural assembly session on Thursday, Okinawa Governor Tamaki commented on Okinawa Affairs Minister Kono’s remark last week that the economic development of Okinawa is linked with the prefecture’s hosting of U.S. bases. The governor reportedly stated that the GOJ has consistently explained that it implements measures to assist Okinawa’s development in a comprehensive and systematic manner by giving consideration to Okinawa’s unique historical, geographic, and social conditions, including its experience as a battlefield in WWII, remote location from the Japanese mainland, and hosting of numerous U.S. military facilities. Tamaki insisted that the prefectural government's understanding is that the economic development is not connected to base issues. The governor added that he will continue to promote the development of the local economy while seeking to reduce the base-hosting burden on the prefecture by working closely with the Suga administration. He expressed hope to hold talks with Prime Minister Suga in Tokyo in the near future.

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