JAPAN MEDIA HIGHLIGHTS
Morning Alert   -   Thursday, September 9, 2021
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HEADLINES

Broadcasters led with reports on the GOJ’s informal decision to extend the COVID-19 state of emergency for Tokyo, Osaka, and 17 other prefectures until the end of this month (NHK), Japan’s first coronavirus-linked death of a person under 20 (NTV), the GOJ’s plan to relax restrictions on people’s activities even under a state of emergency (TBS, TV Asahi), and a fire that broke out at a warehouse in Oita early this morning (Fuji TV).

Top stories in national dailies included the GOJ’s decision to extend the state of emergency (Mainichi, Yomiuri), the GOJ’s plan to relax COVID-19 restrictions on people’s activities (Asahi), an interview with Bank of Japan Governor Kuroda (Nikkei), and former Internal Affairs Minister Takaichi’s announcement of her candidacy for the LDP presidential race (Sankei).

INTERNATIONAL

Suga mulls U.S. visit in late September to attend Quad meeting

All national dailies wrote that Prime Minister Suga is making arrangements to visit Washington in late September to attend the first in-person Quad summit at which the participants are expected to discuss their nations’ strengthened ties amid China's growing activities in the Indo-Pacific region. The papers wrote that although Suga has decided not to run in the LDP presidential election, he will participate in the summit in response to an invitation from President Biden. Suga is also planning to hold bilateral talks with the President and confirm their nations’ cooperation in ensuring the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait.

Japan pledges humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan

Sankei wrote that in an online meeting with the foreign ministers of the United States, Europe, and other nations on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Motegi said that Japan is ready to provide a total of $200 million in fresh aid to Afghanistan through international organizations in response to its growing need for humanitarian assistance.

POLITICS

Kishida vows to narrow income gap

All national dailies reported on former LDP Policy Research Council Chairman Kishida’s announcement on Wednesday of his economic policies for the LDP presidential election. He vowed to boost people's income and narrow disparities through redistribution of wealth in the post-pandemic era by shifting away from Prime Minister Koizumi's neoliberal reform policy. He also stressed the need for economic security.

Takaichi announces candidacy for LDP race

All national dailies reported on a formal announcement on Wednesday by former Internal Affairs Minister Takaichi that she will run in the LDP presidential election slated for Sept. 29. Takaichi said she would prioritize creating a strong economy and uphold former Prime Minister Abe's economic program by focusing on the "three arrows" of monetary easing, flexible fiscal spending, and a bold growth program. She also said she would seek to develop legislation on capabilities to attack enemy bases, establish a Japanese version of the USTR, and revise the constitution.

COVID-19

GOJ to ease COVID-19 restrictions around November

All national dailies wrote that the GOJ has put together a basic plan to ease the existing COVID-19 restrictions on people’s activities in the fall for those who have been vaccinated or have submitted negative PCR test results, allowing them to travel beyond prefectural borders for business or pleasure even if a state of emergency is still in place. The GOJ is also considering allowing eateries to serve alcohol and raising the cap on the number of participants in large-scale events. Based on the estimate that most of the people who wish to receive COVID-19 vaccines will be fully vaccinated by November, the GOJ is planning to conduct tests to verify the effectiveness of the steps in October and start implementing them in November. The GOJ is planning to endorse the plan at a meeting of its coronavirus taskforce headquarters today for further discussions with experts. The papers wrote that the plan is aimed at revitalizing the economic and social activities in the country that have grown stagnant due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

GOJ plans to extend COVID-19 state of emergency

All national dallies wrote that the GOJ told the ruling parties’ leaders on Wednesday it will ask a panel of experts today to review its plan to extend the current COVID-19 state of emergency, which applies to a total of 21 prefectures, for Tokyo and 18 other prefectures beyond the scheduled ending date of Sept. 12 to Sept. 30 as hospital capacity is still under strain. The GOJ is also planning to replace the state of emergency in the remaining prefectures of Miyagi and Okayama with a quasi-state of emergency. The GOJ will make a formal decision on the plan after consulting experts.

Meanwhile, the GOJ subcommittee advising the government on its COVID-19 response issued a proposal on Wednesday for the criteria for deciding whether to lift the state of emergency. The panel said the state of emergency should only be lifted if hospital bed occupancy rates fall below 50% and the number of patients with severe to moderate symptoms is on a downward trend.

GOJ considers shortening quarantine period for vaccinated travelers

Nikkei wrote that the GOJ is considering shortening Japan’s mandatory 14-day quarantine period to 10 days for fully vaccinated travelers. The move is aimed at promoting private companies’ business activities. The GOJ is planning to implement the shorter requirement as early as mid-September.

SECURITY

U.S. Space Force chief comments on China’s capability to attack satellites

Nikkei ran a recent telephone interview with Gen. John Raymond, the chief of the U.S. Space Force, in which he reportedly said China is promoting the development of weapons with the aim of attacking satellites. He reportedly said he is convinced that China would utilize these capabilities in any potential conflict. The paper wrote that Gen. Raymond expressed the view that cooperation with allies in space is important.

JAPAN MEDIA HIGHLIGHTS
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