JAPAN MEDIA HIGHLIGHTS
Afternoon Alert   -   Thursday, December 16, 2021
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HEADLINES

Broadcasters led with reports on the discussions at the Diet on the issue of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism instructing officials to alter statistical data indicating the volume of construction work ordered nationwide (NHK, TBS), a fatal traffic accident in Tokushima this morning (NTV, TV Asahi), and the forecast for heavy rain in Kyushu (Fuji TV).

INTERNATIONAL

Under Secretary Fernandez stresses need to take stand on human rights in China

TV Tokyo's regular business news program "World Business Satellite" carried a two-minute report on its one-on-one interview with visiting Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Fernandez that was conducted at the Ambassador's Residence earlier in the day. The segment followed a report on Russian President Putin's announcement that he will attend the Beijing Olympics amid decisions by the United States and other nations not to send any official representation to the Games. When asked why the United States announced its decision not to send government officials to the Games at such an early date, the Under Secretary was shown saying: "We can't ignore what is going on in Xinjiang—the human rights abuses, the genocide. We will, as the world, look back on those events frankly with shame unless we take a stand against it."

The network noted that the Under Secretary held a teleconference with special advisor on human rights issues Nakatani on bilateral cooperation in the area of human rights. He was shown on the program saying: "Japan is a human rights champion. It is a country that has cooperated with us and believes in human rights. So there's not a lot of difference there."

Noting that the Biden administration is planning to create a new economic framework in the Indo-Pacific region amid China's increasing influence, the program said the Under Secretary stressed that the issue of human rights will hold the key. "The economic framework that we want to create involves respect for human rights, involves respect for the environment, involves respect for the kinds of values that have brought our two societies so close," he said. "So, yes, human rights is a piece of what we're talking about, and we are very pleased that Japan has been a good partner on those issues."

EXCLUSIVE: Senior U.S. diplomat shows hard stance on China (Jiji Press)

It was a very successful Japan-Taiwan summit in spite of China’s threats (Japan Forward)

Opinion: Japan and U.S. need to get serious about tech competition with China (Nikkei Asia)

Roundup of newspaper editorials on diplomatic boycott of Olympic Games (Sankei)

Gov’t calls for ROK to appropriately handle comfort woman statue (Sankei)

Australia resumes entry from Japan (Jiji Press)

Editorial: New Caledonia referendum result contributes to stability in Pacific (The Japan News)

Editorial: Japan must learn from recent destructive tornadoes in U.S. (The Japan News)

SECURITY

Japan’s 5-year defense budget to hit record $264bn (Nikkei Asia)

Japan’s defense budget: Pressing need to optimize equipment and deployments (Nikkei)

Japan looks to revise Self-Defense Forces Law to allow emergency transport exclusively of foreign nationals (The Japan News)

Russian planes spotted near Japanese airspace (NHK WORLD)

Chinese ships spotted near Senkakus for 14th consecutive day (Sankei)

POLITICS

Prime minister’s schedule on Dec. 15, 2021 (Sankei)

Gist of interpellations at Lower House budget committee meeting, Dec. 15, 2021 (Yomiuri)

Japan Lower House OKs FY 2021 extra budget (Jiji Press)

Japan govt accepts plaintiff’s claims over Moritomo scandal (Jiji Press)

Editorial: LDP chapters that got subsidies are obliged to explain why (The Asahi Shimbun)

ECONOMY

China’s overtaking of U.S. economy delayed to 2033, report says (Nikkei Asia)

Japan’s agricultural exports exceed 1 tril. yen for 1st time (Kyodo News)

Kirin CEO: top priority is to continue brewing in Myanmar (Nikkei Asia)

Japanese gov’t to allocate 90 billion yen to secure rare earths (Sankei)

Can TSMC give new spark to Japan’s ‘Silicon Island’? (Nikkei Asia)

Toyota, others plan for Beijing Winter Olympics disruptions (Nikkei Asia)

INTERVIEW: FSA top int’l finance official concerned over excessive debt (Jiji Press)

Osaka Chamber of Commerce taps Torii as next chairperson (Nikkei)

Japan’s inflation may approach 2 pct goal: Kuroda (Jiji Press)

SOCIETY

Ghanaian man with renal failure sues Japan city gov’t for blocking aid due to nationality (The Mainichi)

160 lawyers form Japan-wide network to improve situation for foreign detainees (The Mainichi)

Sri Lankan woman’s detention video to be shown to lawmakers (Jiji Press)

Japan further tightens Omicron quarantine rules for passengers (The Asahi Shimbun)

Visitors to Japan total 20,700 in Nov. (Jiji Press)

OKINAWA LOCAL PRESS

Court dismisses Okinawa’s appeal against land minister’s involvement in authorization of landfill work at Henoko

Okinawa Times and Ryukyu Shimpo wrote that the Fukuoka High Court’s Naha branch dismissed on Wednesday the Okinawa Prefectural Government’s appeal seeking nullification of the land minister’s decision to invalidate the prefectural government’s cancellation of its approval of a GOJ request for landfill work at Henoko. Following the discovery of soft seabed at Henoko, the prefectural government canceled in August 2018 its approval of the GOJ request for landfill work at Henoko. The land minister decided in April 2019 to invalidate the prefectural government’s cancellation in response to an administrative review request by the Defense Ministry’s Okinawa bureau. The Okinawa government filed a complaint with the Naha district court in August 2019 to seek nullification of the minister’s decision.

The Naha branch of the high court did not make a judgment on whether the land minister’s decision was legal or not but supported the district court’s earlier ruling against the prefectural government. The presiding judge at the Naha branch reportedly said that although the prefectural government claims that the decision by the land minister infringes on its autonomy, the local government’s appeal is not valid because it does not qualify as a plaintiff for an appeal filed under the Administrative Appeal Act.

Governor Tamaki told reporters on Wednesday that he finds the court decision rejecting the independence of a local government unacceptable and will consider whether to take the case to the Supreme Court after carefully studying the latest decision. An unnamed Defense Ministry official reportedly told the papers that the ministry will keep trying to gain local residents’ understanding for the Henoko project and steadily move forward with the construction to realize the return of the Futenma Air Station as soon as possible.

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U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team