Morning Alert   -   Friday, July 30, 2021
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NHK, NTV, and Fuji TV gave top play to the exponential growth in COVID-19 infections in the Kanto and Kansai regions, while TBS and TV Asahi led with reports on the Olympic medals that Japanese athletes won on Thursday.

Asahi, Mainichi, and Sankei gave top play to reports on Japan's daily tally of COVID-19 cases topping 10,000 for the first time on Thursday and Yomiuri led with a report on a GOJ plan to place Tokyo’s three neighboring prefectures and Osaka under a COVID state of emergency. Nikkei gave top coverage to a plan by the Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group to form broader tie-ups to provide smartphone-based services.


Japan’s daily COVID-19 cases top 10,000 for first time

All national dailies wrote that Japan's daily tally of COVID-19 cases topped 10,000 for the first time on Thursday. The number of patients in serious condition in Japan was 539, up 17 from the previous day, and the number of deaths was 14. The nationwide tally of 10,693 cases included 3,865 in Tokyo, a record figure for the third straight day. According to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the seven-day rolling average of new cases was 2,224, up about 60% from the previous week’s average of 1,373. Among the 3,865 people confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 in Tokyo on Thursday, 2,642 (68.4%) were in their 30s or younger, while only 105 (2.7%) were aged 65 or older. According to Asahi, an expert advising the Tokyo Metropolitan Government released on Thursday an estimate indicating that the number of daily cases in Tokyo could reach 4,532 on Aug. 11, warning of the “explosive” spread of the virus.

GOJ to expand COVID-19 state of emergency to Tokyo’s neighboring prefectures and Osaka

All national dailies wrote that in response to the recent spike in new COVID-19 cases, the GOJ is planning to add Saitama, Chiba, and Kanagawa, the three prefectures surrounding Tokyo, as well as Osaka, to the areas under a COVID-19 state of emergency, effective from Aug. 2 through Aug. 31. This will bring the total number of prefectures under the state of emergency to six, including Tokyo and Okinawa, whose state of emergency will be extended to Aug. 31 from the current end date of Aug. 22. The government is also considering placing Hokkaido, Kyoto, Hyogo, and Fukuoka under a quasi-state of emergency from Aug. 2 through Aug. 31. Prime Minister Suga told reporters on Thursday that the government is planning to make a formal decision on expanding the state of emergency today after hearing the opinions of experts. Suga stressed that the government is responding to the rise in infections with a strong sense of urgency. Suga plans to hold a news conference today after making a formal decision on the matter.

GOJ to step up COVID-19 testing for foreign residents

Yomiuri wrote that in response to an increasing number COVID-19 cases in communities of foreign residents in Japan, the GOJ will step up its testing of foreign students by distributing antigen testing kits to Japanese language schools. The Immigration Services Agency has asked a total of about 800 such schools nationwide whether they would be willing to receive the tests and the Education Ministry is making preparations to distribute them. The Ministry of Health and Labor is also planning to promote virus testing among companies accepting foreign trainees.


Lawmakers from U.S., Japan, Taiwan discuss response to China

Nikkei, Yomiuri, and Sankei wrote that lawmakers from the United States, Japan, and Taiwan held a virtual security dialogue on Thursday. According to Yomiuri, the participants shared concern over China’s hegemonic actions and confirmed the need for cooperation between the United States, Japan, and Taiwan. During the meeting, former Prime Minister Abe commented on China’s suppression of pro-democracy movements by saying that what happened in Hong Kong should not happen in Taiwan. According to Nikkei, Senator Hagerty, the former U.S. envoy to Japan, took part in the session and expressed hope that the Biden administration will conclude a trade agreement with Taiwan. A Taiwanese participant said that China stages military provocations against Taiwan and tries to divide Taiwanese society by disseminating false information and that Taiwan needs the support of such democratic nations as the United States and Japan.


Kagoshima governor requests another noise survey ahead of aircraft training on Mageshima

Asahi wrote that concerning the Defense Ministry’s environmental assessment related to the planned transfer of U.S. military field carrier landing practice to Mageshima Island in Kagoshima Prefecture and the GOJ plan to construct an SDF facility on the island, Kagoshima Governor Shiota submitted a written opinion to the ministry on Thursday. The governor called on the ministry to conduct a survey to assess the impact of the noise that would be generated by U.S. military jets in the area. Mainichi ran a similar report.


IOC official says Olympics is not to blame for surge in infections in Tokyo

NHK reported that a spokesperson for the International Olympic Committee has expressed a negative view about the possibility that athletes, staff, officials, and other stakeholders involved in the Tokyo Games are spreading the coronavirus in Tokyo. IOC spokesperson Mark Adams said: “We have the most tested community probably anywhere in the world, and some of the toughest lockdown restrictions in the Athletes' Village.”

U.S. Olympic athlete tests positive for COVID-19

Mainichi wrote that according to U.S. and Australian media outlets, an American pole vaulter who is in Tokyo to participate in the Olympics tested positive for COVID-19 during regular virus testing in Japan. Because one Australian athlete practiced with the American, 63 members of the Australian team are now self-quarantining.

Prison sentences for two Americans who aided Ghosn’s escape confirmed

Nikkei, Mainichi, and Sankei wrote that the Tokyo District Court’s prison sentences for the two Americans who helped former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn escape from Japan were confirmed on Thursday as both the prosecutors and the defendants had decided not to appeal the court verdict.


CCS Kato discusses growth strategy with American scholars

Yomiuri wrote that Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato exchanged views on economic policy with Harvard Business School Professor Michael Tushman and Stanford Business School Professor Charles O'Reilly during a virtual meeting on Thursday. According to the paper, Kato stressed the need for technological innovation in Japan, while the two scholars mentioned the need for leadership in implementing new ideas.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team