Morning Alert   -   Friday, October 29, 2021
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Broadcasters led with reports on cellist Ueno Michiaki becoming the first Japanese to win the Geneva International Music Competition (NHK), the Health Ministry’s decision to administer third doses of COVID-19 vaccine to all citizens aged 12 and over who have received their second dose (NTV), remarks by the Grand Steward of the Imperial Household Agency on the marriage of former Princess Mako (TBS), a fatal traffic accident involving a JR Sotobo Line train in Chiba yesterday (Fuji TV), and former Princess Mako getting her international driver’s license (TV Asahi).

Top stories in national dailies included the LDP’s final efforts to win a simple majority in the Lower House election on Sunday (Nikkei, Yomiuri), the Health Ministry decision on COVID-19 vaccine booster shots (Asahi), the dispute between Japan and South Korea over compensation for requisitioned Korean workers (Sankei), and a police investigation into sites linked to the former owner of the land where a soil mound triggered a fatal mudslide in Atami, Shizuoka, in July (Mainichi).


President Biden, Chinese Premier Li clash over South China Sea at East Asia Summit

Nikkei wrote that President Biden expressed concern during a virtual gathering at the East Asia Summit on Thursday over "threats to the international rules-based order” with China’s activities in the South China Sea in mind. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang rebutted President Biden’s statement by saying that "the situation in the South China Sea has maintained overall stability.” The paper added that the two leaders also clashed over Taiwan, as President Biden reiterated that the United States has a "rock-solid" commitment to Taiwan and is “deeply concerned by China's coercive actions that threaten regional peace and stability." All other papers ran similar reports.

Taiwan president confirms U.S. troops’ presence on island

All national dailies reported on Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s interview with CNN in which she said that U.S. forces are in Taiwan to train with Taiwanese soldiers, confirming the presence of U.S. troops in Taiwan for the first time. The papers wrote that China reacted strongly to Tsai’s remark aimed at sending a warning to Beijing by demonstrating Taiwan’s cooperation with the United States.

Kishida to stress importance of free trade and fair rules at G20 summit

Nikkei wrote that Prime Minister Kishida will participate virtually in the G20 summit to be held in Rome on Oct. 30-31 and stress the importance of free trade and free and fair international rules. The paper wrote that the premier is planning to emphasize the need to promote the Data Free Flow with Trust, an international initiative on data flow that was proposed by Japan at the G20 summit in Osaka in 2019, and Japan’s readiness to cooperate with other nations on the introduction of digital taxes targeting multinational companies.

China criticizes Kishida’s remarks on ability to attack enemy bases

Yomiuri wrote that at a regular press briefing on Thursday a spokesperson of China’s ministry of national defense criticized Prime Minister Kishida’s recent remarks in which he expressed his intention to include Japan’s possession of the ability to attack enemy bases in its national security strategy. The spokesperson said it is very dangerous for Japan to break its promise of an exclusively defense-oriented policy and attempt to expand its military power by exaggerating the threats posed by other countries.

U.S., Japanese officials discuss DPRK

Mainichi wrote that U.S. Special Representative for the DPRK Sung Kim and MOFA Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau Director-General Funakoshi discussed North Korean issues over the phone for about 30 minutes on Thursday. The paper speculated that the two officials exchanged views on Pyongyang’s recent missile launches and confirmed that the United States and Japan will continue to cooperate closely in resolving such outstanding issues as the abductions and North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs and will also work with South Korea.

Japanese ambassador to Afghanistan meets with Taliban foreign minister

Mainichi wrote that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Thursday that Japanese Ambassador to Afghanistan Okada met with Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi of the Taliban's interim government in Doha on Wednesday. This was the first time for a GOJ official to be in direct contact with a cabinet minister of the Taliban government. The ministry said that Okada urged the Taliban official to ensure the safety of Japanese nationals and local employees at the Japanese Embassy and other Japanese organizations in Afghanistan and allow them to leave the country at an early date. The ambassador also called on the Taliban official to protect the human rights of women and ethnic minorities and to secure safe routes for Japan to provide humanitarian aid to Afghans. The ministry declined to disclose what Muttaqi said during the meeting.

UN panel adopts Japan’s anti-nuke resolution

Mainichi and Sankei wrote that a UN committee on disarmament adopted on Wednesday a Japan-sponsored draft resolution calling for the total elimination of nuclear arms. In the vote, 152 countries, three more than last year, supported the resolution, while China, Russia, North Korea, and Syria opposed it. Thirty countries abstained. Of the five major nuclear powers, the United States and the UK co-sponsored the resolution while France, which abstained last year, voted in favor of it. The resolution did not mention the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons that took effect in January.


Japan to make COVID-19 booster shots available to everyone who is eligible

All national dailies wrote that a Health Ministry experts’ panel largely agreed on Thursday to make COVID-19 booster shots available to anyone who received their second dose of vaccine at least eight months ago. The panel will make a formal decision on the matter at a meeting next month. The panel is also planning to start administering booster shots to healthcare workers in December and the elderly and other people in January. The ministry will also decide whether to allow people to receive booster shots of vaccines that differ from the ones they received for their initial doses.

Japan to lift 10,000-person cap on spectators at events

All national dailies wrote that the GOJ decided at a coronavirus taskforce subcommittee meeting on Thursday to lift the current cap of 10,000 attendees at large-scale events such as sporting events and concerts on Nov. 1 as the number of new COVID-19 cases has been steadily declining across the country. The maximum number of spectators allowed at such events is currently 10,000 or 50% of venue capacity in the 27 prefectures that had been under a state of emergency or a quasi-state of emergency through September, but the panel decided on Thursday to lift the 10,000-person cap in these prefectures. However, the nationwide attendance limit of 50% of venue capacity will remain in place for the time being.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team