Morning Alert   -   Wednesday, March 16, 2022
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Broadcasters led with reports on the ceasefire talks between Ukraine and Russia (NHK, TBS, Fuji TV), the curfew imposed on the entire city of Kyiv (TV Asahi), and the killing of two members of a Fox News team in an attack in Ukraine (NTV).

Top stories in national dailies included Russia’s intensifying missile attacks on Ukraine (Yomiuri, Sankei), the more than 2.9 million Ukrainian evacuees fleeing to neighboring countries (Nikkei), a GOJ plan to provide temporary welfare benefits to pensioners amid the prolonged coronavirus pandemic (Asahi), and a GOJ plan to stop requiring companies to identify close contacts of COVID-19 patients (Mainichi).


Japan to ban exports of 300 items to Russia, Belarus

Mainichi wrote that the GOJ announced on Tuesday that it would ban exports of about 300 items, including semiconductors and communication equipment, to Russia and Belarus starting on Friday as part of Japan’s economic sanctions in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The paper wrote that the move is aimed at applying further pressure on the Putin administration in coordination with the other G7 members.

Japan to revoke Russia’s favored nation trade status

Mainichi wrote the GOJ decided on Tuesday to act in line with the G7’s policy announced last week to move forward with procedures to strip Russia of its "most favored nation" status. The paper wrote that the GOJ is planning to submit legislation to the current Diet session for raising tariffs on Russian marine products such as crab and sea urchin.

Trade minister says Japan to reduce energy dependence on Russia

Mainichi wrote that Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hagiuda told reporters on Tuesday that Japan will reduce its energy dependence on Russia to act in concert with the other G7 members by securing alternate suppliers of LNG. The paper noted that Japan depends on Russia for about 10% of its LNG imports.

Government to permit evacuees from Ukraine to work in Japan

Mainichi wrote that Justice Minister Furukawa told reporters on Tuesday that the GOJ is planning to allow Ukrainian evacuees to work in Japan by granting them a one-year "designated activities" residence status. The move came following Ukrainian Ambassador to Japan Korsunsky’s request to the minister on March 11 to allow the evacuees to work in Japan. Furukawa said the government will be flexible in handling the visa status of evacuees from Ukraine by sufficiently taking their situations into consideration. As of Sunday, Japan had accepted 47 Ukrainian evacuees, all of whom entered Japan on 90-day short stay visas. Prime Minister Kishida instructed Foreign Minister Hayashi, Justice Minister Furukawa, and other relevant cabinet ministers on Tuesday to take sufficient measures to assist the evacuees from Ukraine. Separately, Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno told the press on Tuesday that the entire government is urgently looking into how to support the evacuees in terms of accommodations, employment, education, and other matters. According to the paper, the GOJ has set up a help desk at the Immigration Services Agency of Japan to assist newly arriving Ukrainians. Yomiuri and Sankei ran similar reports.

U.S. military aircraft to transport Japan’s aid for Ukraine

All national dailies wrote that Defense Minister Kishi told reporters on Tuesday that some of Japan’s non-lethal defense supplies for Ukraine will be transported by U.S. military aircraft. Kishi was quoted as saying that the United States and Japan will demonstrate their joint solidarity with Ukraine through the operation. The papers wrote that the GOJ has decided to provide binoculars and lighting and medical equipment at the request of Ukraine. Mainichi wrote that USFJ and the SDF will discuss which items to transport and the schedule of the operation.


GSDF Osprey conducts first-ever joint drills with U.S. Marines

Mainichi, Yomiuri, and Sankei wrote that a GSDF V-22 Osprey based at Camp Kisarazu in Chiba Prefecture participated in joint drills with the U.S. Marines for the first time on Tuesday at the Higashifuji training area in Shizuoka Prefecture. Mainichi wrote that the drills, which are scheduled to continue through March 25, are intended to enhance coordination between the GSDF and Marines in amphibious operations. Yomiuri speculated that the drills are aimed at enhancing the two forces’ capability to operate in the Nansei Islands and other areas in response to China’s continuing maritime advancement.

U.S., Japan hold joint drill involving F-35s for first time

Sankei wrote that the ASDF announced on Tuesday that it conducted its first joint exercise with the U.S. Air Force involving F-35A stealth fighter jets from both nations on March 10. The training was conducted west of Misawa Air Base in Aomori Prefecture and involved four F-35As from Japan and four from the United States. The paper speculated that the drill was aimed at demonstrating the unity between the two nations amid the Russian military’s increasing activities in the vicinity of Japan.


Kishida calls for UAE’s cooperation in stabilizing oil market

Yomiuri, Asahi, and Nikkei wrote that Prime Minister Kishida spoke by phone with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Tuesday and confirmed that Japan and the UAE will work together to stabilize the international oil market. Kishida told reporters afterward that he urged the UAE to make proactive contributions as an OPEC member.


Quasi-state of emergency to be lifted in Tokyo, Aichi

Yomiuri, Asahi, and Nikkei wrote that the GOJ has decided to lift the current COVID-19 quasi-state of emergency measures in Tokyo and Aichi as scheduled on March 21. The GOJ has already begun making arrangements for lifting the measures with 15 of the 18 prefectures for which they are currently in place. The GOJ will carefully study whether to lift the quasi-state of emergency designation for Osaka after hearing the views of the prefectural leadership.

COVID-19 booster administration complete at 95% of nursing homes in Japan

Mainichi wrote that Health Minister Goto told reporters on Tuesday that 95% of the nursing homes in Japan were set to finish administering third doses of COVID-19 vaccine to their residents on Tuesday. The paper noted that although the government had planned to complete the administration of booster shots at such facilities by the end of February, only 88% of them had finished administering the vaccinations by then.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team