Afternoon Alert   -   Thursday, March 5, 2020
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Noon news

NHK gave top coverage to a report on a blizzard in Hokkaido that is disrupting air traffic. NTV gave top play to a report that a man in his 60s living in Shiga Prefecture was found to be infected with the new coronavirus. He is the first person in the prefecture to be infected. TBS and TV Asahi led with reports that most JAL flights leaving Itami Airport in Osaka have been suspended since this morning due to a power supply facility failure at the airport. Fuji TV led with a report on a possible chain reaction of cluster infections of COVID-19 originating at a live music venue in Osaka.


GOJ planning to quarantine all travelers from China, South Korea for 14 days

Yomiuri reported online that the GOJ is making arrangements to quarantine all travelers from China and South Korea at a medical institution or government-designated facility for 14 days before giving them permission to enter Japan based on the Quarantine Act. The paper said Japan will also suspend visas issued to Chinese and South Korean nationals to prevent tourists from those countries from visiting Japan. In addition, the GOJ is planning to limit the destinations of flights from China and South Korea to Narita and Kansai International Airports, and also request that ships stop carrying passengers from those countries to Japan. The daily said Prime Minister Abe is expected to announce the new measures at a meeting of the government task force on the new coronavirus to be convened this evening.

Japanese man tests positive for COVID-19 after returning from U.S.

NHK reported early this morning that a man in his 70s in Miyazaki tested positive for the novel coronavirus yesterday, saying that he and his wife had stayed in Los Angeles for a week through Feb. 26 and that he developed a fever and other symptoms on March 1. Since returning to Miyazaki on Feb. 27 via Haneda Airport, the patient had reportedly stayed home until he visited a local clinic on March 1. This is the first confirmed case of COVID-19 infection in the prefecture.

IOC member sees no reason to cancel Tokyo Olympics

NTV reported at noon on its one-on-one interview with IOC member Dick Pound on Wednesday, during which he expressed the view that the Tokyo Olympics will be held as planned. He reportedly said the number of people infected with the virus is about 1,000 in Japan, which has a population of about 100 million, and that the current situation is "not a serious problem at the moment." He reportedly added that if a decision had to be made today, there would be no reason to cancel the Olympics. According to the network, he said that a final decision will be made based on such factors as progress in the development of vaccines and any change in the fatality rate. Concerning the possibility that athletes from nations that are restricting travel to Japan may not be able to participate in the games, Pound reportedly expressed the view that it would not affect the decision to hold the games.

Japanese firms order employees stationed overseas to remain in host countries

Fuji TV reported that some major Japanese firms have ordered their employees stationed overseas not to leave their host countries due to the growing number of nations restricting travel to and from Japan. According to the network, Toshiba, which has worldwide offices, asked all of its employees stationed overseas to refrain from leaving their host countries, even for private travel, on the grounds that more nations may follow the lead of India in deciding to void visas issued to Japanese nationals. The network said Suzuki Motors, which has more than a 50% share in the automobile market in India, is also asking its employees stationed overseas not to leave their host countries. Noting that President Trump has hinted that the U.S. may ban travelers from Japan from entering the nation, the network quoted a source familiar with the automobile industry as saying that such a measure would deal a heavy blow to the industry.

Diamond Princess passengers released from quarantine in Texas

NHK reported online on Wednesday that more than 100 former Diamond Princess passengers who had been quarantined at an Air Force base in Texas since Feb. 17 were allowed to return home on Tuesday. The network reported that although the CDC had originally said they would be required to stay at the base for 14 days, the quarantine was extended after the San Antonio city government declared a local public health emergency on Monday following the finding that a woman who had been exposed to COVID-19 in Wuhan tested positive for the virus after she was released from quarantine at the base. According to the city government, the CDC has modified its protocol in two ways -- previously symptomatic quarantined individuals will only be released if they test negative twice within 24 hours and nobody with pending test results will be released.

Japan lower house to pass coronavirus bill on March 12 (Jiji Press)

Infographic: 1,035 persons in Japan confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 (NHK digital)

Abe reaches across aisle for COVID-19 emergency law as Japan cases top 1,000 (The Japan Times)

Abe seeks cooperation from opposition camp on a special measures law (Mainichi)

Takeda aims to develop coronavirus drug in 9 months (Kyodo News)

MOFA asks Shanghai and Beijing to lift quarantine on travelers from Japan (Mainichi)

Commentary: Japan's virus response lacked boldness of Singapore and Taiwan (Nikkei Asian Review)

New coronavirus deals a blow to 5G base station development (Sankei)

JR East sees lower revenue due to coronavirus (Jiji Press)

Commentary: The financial fight against COVID-19 (The Japan Times)

Tokyo games cancellation, postponement not discussed at IOC meet (Jiji Press)

Device sales on the rise as virus prompts people to work from home (Kyodo News)

ANA and JAL to reduce domestic flights amid coronavirus outbreak (Nikkei Asian Review)

BOJ chief vows to deal with coronavirus crisis (Jiji Press)

Coronavirus impacting March 2011 memorial events in Japan (Jiji Press)

Evacuation order partially lifted for Fukushima town (Jiji Press)

Expert raps Japan govt response to virus outbreak on cruise ship (Jiji Press)

All Shinkansen trains to have spaces for wheelchair users (Jiji Press)

Opposition parties submit plan to expand coronavirus testing (Yomiuri)


Last time a Chinese leader delayed a Japan trip, it didn't end well: Xi Jinping needs to avoid a repeat of Jiang Zemin's visit in 1998 (Nikkei Asian Review)

Roundup of newspaper editorials on the new type of pneumonia and China (Sankei)

CCS Suga: Dialogue among UNSC permanent members important (Mainichi)


Japan's pension 'whale' dives into foreign bonds, spouting yen: GPIF set to reshuffle $1.5tn portfolio this month (Nikkei Asian Review)

First JIC fund will be several hundred billion yen (Nikkei)

Interview: TEPCO hopes for Fukushima decommissioning techs to prevail (Jiji Press)


U.S. plans to deploy hypersonic weapons in Asia-Pacific

NHK reported online that Secretary of Defense Esper stated at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Wednesday that the United States is planning to deploy hypersonic weapons in the Asia-Pacific region within the next few years. The network said that while expressing strong concern over the development of such weapons by China and Russia, the Secretary reportedly said at the hearing that the development of hypersonic weapons is a priority in enhancing the capabilities of the U.S. military. The broadcaster noted that it is said to be difficult to intercept hypersonic weapons, which can fly five times faster than the speed of sound, with the existing U.S. missile defense networks. The broadcaster added that the Pentagon is planning to conduct its first test firing of the weapons sometime this year.

Japan sees rise in cyberattacks on remote control systems (Jiji Press)

Tokio Marine Nichido launches cybersecurity website for companies (Nikkei)

Japan to get its 1st female paratrooper (Kyodo News)

Providing bases to U.S. military is big contribution (Asahi)

"Seiron" column: Discussion of plan B for Japan-U.S. alliance is an illusion (Sankei)


Prime minister's schedule on March 4, 2020 (Sankei)

Gist of interpellations at Upper House budget committee meeting, March 4, 2020 (Yomiuri)

Editorial: Ex-Japan justice minister, wife should take responsibility over aides' arrests (The Mainichi)


Schools at U.S. bases in Japan continue to operate as normal

Ryukyu Shimpo wrote that although schools at U.S. bases in South Korea are temporarily closed to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, schools at U.S. bases in Japan, including Okinawa, continue to operate as normal. The paper wrote that Kadena Air Base has posted a message on its Facebook page saying that schools on Okinawa will continue to operate because the threat of the virus to the Kadena Air Base population remains low. The paper wrote that Stars and Stripes quoted Department of Defense Education Activity-Pacific chief of staff Todd Schlitz as saying: "The government of Japan recommended that Japanese public schools close, extending their spring recess through March in light of COVID-19. However, in coordination with U.S. Forces Japan, the decision was made that DODEA-Japan and Okinawa schools will remain open."

Coronavirus forces Kadena to cancel friendship event (Okinawa Times)

Ask U.S. Congress to reconsider Henoko relocation plan (Okinawa Times)

Wildfire caused by firing practice at Camp Hansen (Ryukyu Shimpo)

Japanese and American students enjoy making curry rice together (Ryukyu Shimpo)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team