Morning Alert   -   Tuesday, March 1, 2022
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All broadcasters and national dailies except Nikkei gave top coverage to the start of ceasefire talks between Ukraine and Russia on Monday. Nikkei led with growing moves to remove Russia from the global economy.


Japan joins sanctions on Russian central bank, imposes sanctions on Belarus

All national dailies reported that Prime Minister Kishida announced on Monday evening that Japan will limit transactions with Russia’s central bank as an additional sanction against Russia. The papers said Kishida spoke with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy by phone for about 10 minutes on Monday evening and conveyed his decision to restrict transactions with the Russian central bank. Kishida also told reporters that Japan has decided to impose sanctions on Belarusian organizations and individuals, including President Lukashenko, and limit exports to Belarus given the country’s support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. According to the papers, Kishida told Zelenskyy: “Japan stands with the people of Ukraine.” Asahi added that Kishida also announced that Japan will provide another $100 million in emergency humanitarian assistance to Ukraine.

White House welcomes Japan’s additional sanctions on Russia

Nikkei reported that White House Press Secretary Psaki released a statement on Sunday welcoming Japan’s announcement that it will stand with Western nations to isolate Russia from the international financial system. The paper said it is rare for the White House to release a statement focusing solely on a response by Japan.

World leaders confirm need for strong sanctions on Russia

NHK reported this morning that in response to a call from President Biden, the G7 held a virtual emergency leaders’ meeting earlier today to discuss the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In addition to the leaders of the G7 members, the leaders of the EU, NATO, Poland, and Romania took part in the session. They affirmed the importance of pursuing further global unity to impose even tougher sanctions on Moscow to hold it accountable for the war of aggression. Prime Minister Kishida explained during the teleconference that Japan has taken tough punitive measures in coordination with the United States and Europe. “The Russian invasion rattles not only European security but also the international order. We need to demonstrate the high cost of attempting to alter the status quo by force. It’s critical for the international community to deal with the situation resolutely.” The Japanese leader also commented on President Putin’s moves to put Russia’s nuclear forces on high alert by saying: “As the leader of a country that has suffered atomic bombing and a politician representing a place where an atomic bombing occurred, I insist that the threat or use of nuclear weapons not be condoned.” The leaders also agreed to continue supporting Ukraine.

U.S., Japan, others to announce additional release of oil reserves

Nikkei reported from Washington that it learned that the United States, Japan, and other nations will soon announce a plan to release additional oil reserves. The paper said that according to the Wall Street Journal, the nations are considering releasing about 70 million barrels of oil reserves in response to the surge in the price of crude oil following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The daily added that the United States, Japan, and other nations are likely to reach an agreement with the members of the International Energy Agency on the release on Monday or Tuesday.

Japan to set up liaison office in Poland

Nikkei reported that Prime Minister Kishida told reporters on Monday that the GOJ will set up a temporary liaison office in Rzeszow, Poland, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He reportedly said: “We will take every possible measure to ensure the safety of Japanese nationals in Ukraine and protect those who leave Ukraine for Poland via land.”

The daily said the premier also disclosed that the GOJ will take measures to enable the extension of visas for Ukrainian citizens in Japan who are concerned about going back to their country.

Japanese Embassy in Moscow calls on Japanese to be on alert for flight changes

Yomiuri reported that Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno told reporters on Monday that the Japanese Embassy in Moscow has sent messages calling on Japanese nationals in the country to be on the alert for flight schedule changes as commercial flights connecting Russia and Europe are being suspended. The paper said that if many commercial flights are suspended, it could become difficult for people to leave Russia.

PM Kishida says removal of Russian banks from SWIFT likely to impact Japan

Asahi reported that Prime Minister Kishida expressed concern on Monday about the possible impact on Japan of the international sanctions involving the removal of Russian banks from the SWIFT financial system. He reportedly said: “We can fully anticipate that the sanctions will have an impact on people’s livelihoods and various sectors of the Japanese economy.” The paper said that although the GOJ is considering increasing subsidies for gasoline and kerosene, Kishida said the GOJ may need to prepare additional measures if oil prices continue to rise.

Lower House to adopt today resolution condemning Russian invasion

Mainichi and Nikkei reported that the ruling and opposition parties drafted a resolution on Monday condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Mainichi said the resolution is expected to be adopted at a Lower House plenary session today. According to the daily, the resolution describes the Russian military’s action as an “invasion” and points out that it is a “serious violation of international law that bans the use of force and a grave violation of the UN Charter.” In addition, the resolution “condemns in the strongest possible terms the invasion by the Russian military” and calls on Russia to immediately halt the attack and withdraw from Ukraine.


Toyota to halt operations at all domestic plants due to cyberattack on major supplier

All national dailies, including Nikkei, reported that Toyota Motor announced on Monday that it will halt operations at all 14 of its plants in Japan on March 1 as one of its major suppliers was hit by a suspected cyberattack that disrupted the automaker’s parts supply management system. The papers said this will affect the production of around 13,000 vehicles, or about 5% of Toyota’s monthly output in Japan. Toyota subsidiaries Hino Motors and Daihatsu Motor will also halt operations at some of their plants in Japan on Tuesday. According to Yomiuri, Prime Minister Kishida told reporters on Monday: “We are still confirming the damage. It’s difficult to say whether this incident is connected with Russia until we finish the confirmation.”

According to the papers, the company that suffered the suspected cyberattack was Kojima Industries, which supplies Toyota with plastic parts for automotive interiors. Nikkei said the company told the paper that it is still “investigating” the origin of the cyberattack, the specific malware involved, and the resulting damage. The daily added that it is unknown whether the automakers will be able to resume normal operations on Wednesday. According to NHK, ransomware was apparently used in the cyberattack against the Toyota subsidiary.


Kishida says Japan won’t seek nuclear sharing with U.S.

Asahi, Nikkei, Sankei, and Mainichi reported that Prime Minister Kishida said at the Diet on Monday it would not be acceptable for Japan to establish a nuclear sharing arrangement with the United States. He reportedly said: “It would be unacceptable given our country’s stance of maintaining the three non-nuclear principles.” According to the papers, former Prime Minister Abe said on Sunday that discussing such an option should not be regarded as taboo.

In a related story, Kyodo News reported that China reacted sharply to former PM Abe’s remarks on Sunday, saying it urged Japan on Monday to uphold the country’s three non-nuclear principles. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman reportedly told reporters in Beijing: “Recently, Japanese politicians have frequently spread fallacies related to Taiwan and even blatantly made false remarks that violate the nation's three non-nuclear principles…. We strongly call on Japan to deeply reflect on its history.”


GOJ likely to extend quasi-state of emergency in Tokyo, Osaka, four other prefectures

Yomiuri reported that the GOJ began making arrangements on Monday to extend the quasi-state of emergency measures in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Aichi, Kyoto, Osaka, and Hyogo. Currently 31 prefectures are under the quasi-state of emergency measures, which are scheduled to end on March 6. The paper wrote that the GOJ is considering extending the measures for the six prefectures by two weeks and is expected to decide on the matter by the end of this week. The daily added that the hospital bed occupancy rate was 54% in Tokyo, 70% in Kanagawa, 66% in Aichi, 72% in Kyoto, 77% in Osaka, and 69% in Hyogo as of Feb. 27, exceeding the 50% threshold for lifting the measures.

Osaka requests extension of quasi-state of emergency by about 3 weeks

Nikkei reported that Osaka asked the central government on Monday to extend the current quasi-state of emergency measures for the prefecture that are scheduled to end on March 6. Governor Yoshimura reportedly expressed hope that the measures will be extended by about three weeks.


Ishigaki mayor elected to fourth term

Sankei reported that Ishigaki Mayor Nakayama, who supports the deployment of GSDF troops in the city, was elected to a fourth term on Sunday. The paper claimed that Nakayama’s victory will pave the way for the GSDF deployment to the island in Okinawa by the end of next year intended to strengthen the defense of the Nansei Islands, including the Senkakus.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team