JAPAN MEDIA HIGHLIGHTS
Morning Alert   -   Tuesday, December 7, 2021
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HEADLINES

Broadcasters led with reports on the Biden administration’s announcement that it will not send any diplomatic or official representatives to the Beijing Olympics on account of China’s human rights violations in Xinjiang (NHK) and the first Japanese national found to be infected with the Omicron variant on Monday (NTV, TBS, Fuji TV, TV Asahi).

All national dailies gave top play to reports on Prime Minister Kishida’s policy speech in the Diet on Monday.

POLITICS

Kishida delivers policy speech in Diet

All national dailies wrote that Prime Minister Kishida delivered a policy speech to both houses of the Diet on Monday. The premier started his speech by saying that the government will “prepare for the worst” in dealing with the Omicron variant of COVID-19. He pledged that the government would shorten the interval between second and third shots from the previous plan of eight months. He also said the government will start issuing on Dec. 20 digital certificates for people who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. He added that the government will make efforts to get the economy back on track while carefully watching the infection situation.

Kishida touched on what he calls "a new form of capitalism," saying that his administration will designate innovation, digitalization, climate change, and economic security as the four areas of policy focus in his post-COVID growth strategy. The premier pledged to revitalize regional economies by creating a "superhighway" of undersea cables for high-speed Internet communications in about three years. He also vowed to drastically increase tax incentives for firms that raise wages.

On foreign and security affairs, Kishida said that he will seek to develop a constructive and stable relationship with China. Concerning the Futenma Air Station’s relocation to Henoko, Kishida said that his government will strive to develop a relationship of trust with residents through sincere dialogue to move the relocation project forward. The premier pledged to review the National Security Strategy and the National Defense Program Guidelines in about a year to enhance Japan’s missile defense capabilities. He vowed to consider every option to bolster Japan’s defense capabilities, including acquiring the capability to strike enemy bases.

The papers wrote that although Kishida stressed that his government will strengthen measures to tackle the coronavirus and revitalize Japan's economy, he failed to provide specific plans.

INTERNATIONAL

U.S. announces diplomatic boycott of Beijing Games

NHK reported this morning that White House Press Secretary Psaki announced on Monday that the United States will not send any government officials to the Beijing Olympics and Paralympics that will begin in February given China’s “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses.” The network said China is likely to react sharply to the announcement. The network added that U.S. athletes will still be sent to the Games.

U.S. to call on other democracies to restrict export of surveillance technologies

Nikkei wrote from Washington that the Biden administration is planning to establish a new multinational framework aimed at restricting the export of surveillance cameras and other tools. The paper wrote that the United States is planning to call on Japan, European counties, and other democracies at the Summit for Democracy to be held virtually on Dec. 9-10 to take part in the framework called the “Export Control and Human Rights Initiative" to prevent these technologies from being used for human rights abuses in authoritarian countries such as China and Russia. The paper speculated that Japan will be placed in a difficult position over the issue because its current laws do not include human rights abuses as a reason for export controls. The paper also conjectured that Japan may be criticized if Tokyo delays its response to the matter while the United States and Europe take concerted action on human rights issues.

Spread of Omicron variant affecting Japan’s diplomatic activities

Nikkei wrote that the global spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus has begun affecting Japan’s diplomatic activities, as Defense Minister Kishi has cancelled his planned meetings in Tokyo with his Canadian and Italian counterparts this week and Foreign Minister Hayashi may participate in a G7 foreign ministerial meeting to be held in the UK on Friday only virtually. The paper wrote that although Prime Minister Kishida is hoping to visit the United States at an early date for talks with President Biden, the spread of the Omicron variant may complicate arrangements for a trip to Washington.

Japan to donate 10 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Africa

Nikkei wrote that Prime Minister Kishida will announce Japan’s pledge to donate to African countries 10 million doses of AstraZeneca-made COVID-19 vaccines at the Tokyo Nutrition for Growth Summit to be held on Dec. 7-8. Kishida will also announce Japan’s plan to provide $2.8 billion in aid over three years to developing nations to help them overcome food shortages. According to the paper, representatives of more than 80 nations and international organizations as well as private businesses are expected to take part in the conference.

COVID-19

Japan confirms third case of Omicron variant

All national dailies wrote that the GOJ announced on Monday that it has confirmed the third case of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in Japan. A Japanese man in his 30s who had visited Italy was found to be infected with the variant after entering Japan through Tokyo's Haneda Airport on Wednesday. This is the first case of a Japanese national infected with the variant. The man is fully vaccinated after receiving two doses of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine in July and August. All the other 41 passengers on his flight are being treated as close contacts, and one of them has tested positive for the coronavirus but not the Omicron variant.

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