JAPAN MEDIA HIGHLIGHTS
Morning Alert   -   Wednesday, December 1, 2021
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HEADLINES

Broadcasters led with reports on the heavy rain in the Kanto region (NHK) and the first case of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 confirmed in Japan yesterday (NTV, TBS, Fuji TV, TV Asahi).

All national dailies except Nikkei gave top play to Japan’s first case of the Omicron variant. Nikkei led with a report on a 13.9% drop in Japan's working-age population over the past five years.

SECURITY

Pentagon’s Global Posture Review highlights Indo-Pacific as priority

All national dailies wrote that the Department of Defense announced the completion of its Global Posture Review yesterday. According to an outline of the review, it focuses on the Indo-Pacific region, highlighting the need to strengthen cooperation with allies and partners to beef up deterrence against China and North Korea. Yomiuri speculated that this indicates that the United States may call on Japan to make additional contributions in security. The paper noted that there is no reference to the U.S. Forces Japan in the outline, quoting a source connected to U.S.-Japan relations as saying that a review of U.S. troop deployment in Japan is not included in the document. Nikkei wrote that although there will be no realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, the posture of the troops in Japan may be a topic of discussion in the future because the United States and Japan will likely deepen cooperation in view of the possibility of a contingency in the Taiwan Strait.

U.S. fighter jettisons fuel tanks before making emergency landing at Aomori Airport

All national dailies wrote that an F-16 fighter jet belonging to the U.S. Misawa Air Base made an emergency landing at Aomori Airport at around 6:10 p.m. on Tuesday. According to the Aomori prefectural government, the aircraft jettisoned two fuel tanks before landing. While no injuries were reported, the landing caused the closure of the runway and interrupted several domestic flights. Yomiuri wrote that Misawa Air Base announced on Tuesday that the aircraft jettisoned two fuel tanks over an unpopulated area near Mt. Iwaki. In a front-page report, Asahi quoted Col. Timothy Murphy, the deputy commander of the 35th Fighter Wing at Misawa Air Base, as saying that the safety of U.S. service members and local residents is the top priority.

U.S., Japanese naval forces conduct joint exercises

Nikkei wrote that the U.S. Navy and the MSDF invited the press to cover their joint exercises in the Pacific involving the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson on Tuesday. The paper speculated that the drills were conducted based on the scenario of responding to China’s maritime activities. The paper wrote that the MSDF has been conducting joint anti-submarine drills with the United States, Australia, Canada, and Germany since Nov. 21 in waters around Japan.

NHK reported on Tuesday that Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Fleet Commander in Chief, Vice Admiral Yuasa Hideki, and the U.S. Seventh Fleet Commander, Vice Admiral Karl Thomas, held a joint news conference on the USS Carl Vinson earlier in the day. The network said the two commanders stressed that the United States and Japan will enhance their ties to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific together with friendly nations.

COVID-19

Japan confirms first case of Omicron variant

All national dailies wrote that the Health Ministry announced on Tuesday that it has confirmed Japan’s first case of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. A Namibian diplomat in his 30s tested positive for the coronavirus upon arrival at Narita Airport on Sunday and was found to be infected with the Omicron variant on Tuesday. The man showed no symptoms at the airport but developed a fever after being transferred to a designated facility. He is currently in quarantine at a medical facility and was fully vaccinated. The two family members who were traveling with him tested negative. The ministry said that all 70 people who were on the same flight as the man have tested negative and are being treated as close contacts. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government announced that about 40 of the passengers are Tokyo residents.

Japan to begin administering booster shots today

Yomiuri, Mainichi, and Nikkei wrote that the GOJ will begin administering COVID-19 booster shots. Healthcare practitioners will receive their third doses of vaccine first and people aged 65 years and older will begin receiving them in January. The interval between second and third shots will be eight months in principle. The papers wrote that calls may grow for swifter administration of third shots out of concern for the spread of the Omicron variant. Health Minister Goto told reporters on Tuesday that his ministry has no plans at this stage to change the vaccination schedule but added that the ministry may review the schedule in the future depending on such factors as the infection situation, local governments’ preparations for vaccination, and the number of vaccine doses the government can secure.

INTERNATIONAL

Hiroshima announces bid to host G7 summit in 2023

Asahi wrote that the governments of Hiroshima Prefecture and Hiroshima City announced their willingness to host the G7 summit to be held in Japan in 2023. The paper wrote that Prime Minister Kishida, who is from Hiroshima, is hoping to stress the importance of nuclear disarmament to the world from his home constituency. Fukuoka and Nagoya have already announced bids to host the event.

POLITICS

CDPJ elects Izumi as new leader

All national dailies reported on the election on Tuesday of Izumi Kenta as the new leader of the largest opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan. Izumi, a 47-year-old member of the House of Representatives currently serving his eighth term, won in a runoff in a four-way race to choose the successor to Edano Yukio, who stepped down to take responsibility for the CDPJ's loss in the general election in October. "I believe the top priority is rebuilding the party," Izumi said at a news conference. He expressed willingness to cooperate with the other opposition parties in single-seat constituencies in the House of Councillors election next summer but suggested reviewing the “limited non-cabinet alliance” agreement the CDPJ reached with the Japanese Communist Party under the leadership of Edano.

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