incompetent and naive reading of Japanese news source
As others have pointed out, this article has been blown out of proportion due to a totally incompetent and naive reading of the Japanese news source.
In Japanese the word "muzukashii" is used for both "difficult" and "absolutely impossible". It depends entirely on the context, that is fine nuances in speech or use of modifiers and filler words just where on that scale from "difficult" to "absolutely impossible" the intended meaning actually is.
As an illustration, a couple of simple examples in spoken Japanese:
original Japanese: muzukashii desu yo
literal English xlat: difficult it is, indeed
connotation: this is difficult to do but not necessarily impossible
orginal Japanese: muzukashii desu ne
literal English xlat: difficult it is, isn't it?!
connotation: this is next to impossible, if not impossible, forget it
The nuances and modifiers in formal written Japanese are different, but it comes down to the same principle that deliberate understatement is a form of mandatory politeness in Japanese society.
If you were to use the actual Japanese word for "impossible" directly, you might think you just said "I am sorry, but this is impossible to do", but to your Japanese counterpart it would more likely come across as if you had said "There is no f**cking way we are going to pull this off for you, get lost you morons".
At the same time, you can be more direct with your buddies or with your colleagues, no problem, but you cannot be direct when you talk to a member outside of your own group, ie. customer, supplier, court.
The rules for Japanese formal language (including business language) are such that it depends entirely on
1) what group do you belong to in the context of the subject matter, ie. giving or receiving party (think "you guys want something from us, so you must address us as 'sirs' and say 'please' a lot more than we do when we talk back")
2) your status/level in the hierarchy of your own group
3) the relationship between your group and the group you are talking/writing to
4) the status/level in the hierarchy of your counterpart within their group
When you make a statement that involves both groups, anything relating to your own group has to be understated/humbled down whilst anything relating to your counterpart's group has to be overstated/exalted.
Thus for example, if you talk about your company's president with your colleagues, he is "our honourable President Kobayashi". If you are talking about him with an employee of a customer, he is simply "our Kobayashi" or "our boss". If you are talking about ANYBODY within the organisation of your customer to an employee of that customer, he will be "your most honourable Mr. Yamada".
This is one of the reasons why the Japanese have a very hard time when they receive a business card from a western company where there is only a department and a name, but no title that indicates the status of the presenter within his organisation. The Japanese will look at the card and think "Oh, gosh, how am I going to address this guy appropriately, I have no clue if he's the boss or a freshman".
Other examples are when you introduce your wife which is "my foolish wife", whilst the wife of your counterpart is "your honourable lady"; when you give somebody a present "I'd like to present you this totally boring silly thing ..." whilst the present you receive should be treated as the most exciting thing ever but must never be opened in the presence of the presenter so as not to risk embarrassing him.
I suppose, by now you can see the pattern and get an idea how Japanese etiquette works. Basically, think Tudor England and how people had to speak back then, very likely the mandatory mannerisms required for speaking at the court of Henry VIII were pretty close to formal Japanese in use today.
Before this background, you have to realise that an interpretation of Japanese news sources also requires a cultural translation, which was quite obviously missing in the case of this news item.