Afternoon Alert   -   Thursday, March 12, 2020
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Noon news

NHK gave top play to a report on President Trump's televised speech to the nation announcing the suspension of all travel from Europe with the exception of the United Kingdom for the next 30 days in order to contain the spread of the new coronavirus in the U.S. The President reportedly said the measure will take effect on Friday night. NTV, TBS, and Fuji TV led with reports on the WHO's declaration on Wednesday that COVID-19 is a pandemic, with TBS and Fuji TV quoting Prime Minister Abe as telling the press this morning: "We will cooperate with the international community more than ever and strengthen measures to tackle this issue. We will remain vigilant, and implement necessary measures without any hesitation." TV Asahi gave top play to a report on a fire that occurred in Azabujuban in Minato Ward, Tokyo, this morning.


29 nations and regions currently banning entry from Japan

NHK reported online that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced today that as of Thursday morning, 29 countries and regions, including China, South Korea, India, and Israel, have banned the entry of travelers from Japan over the coronavirus outbreak. A total of 70 other countries and regions are requiring people arriving from Japan to be quarantined at designated facilities for a set period of time or requesting that they monitor their own health. These 70 countries and regions include Taiwan, Russia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Senior USG official criticizes China for delayed response to coronavirus outbreak

NHK reported online that National Security Advisor O'Brien criticized the Chinese government by saying that its cover-up of the coronavirus outbreak cost the global community two months, citing reports that Chinese doctors who had warned of the threat of the virus were silenced. O'Brien made the remarks during a speech he delivered in Washington on Wednesday. He reportedly said that the world could have curtailed what happened in China and what is happening across the globe during those two months. The senior official reportedly commented on the Trump administration's response to the COVID-19 outbreak by saying that President Trump was the first leader of a major economic power to decide to suspend entry from China.

Many after-school programs closed due to coronavirus outbreak

Fuji TV reported on the finding that a total of 196 after-school programs where children can do their homework and play until their parents come home from work have been temporarily closed in seven prefectures, including Hokkaido and Chiba, in the wake of the new coronavirus outbreak, according to the MHLW. In addition, 44 nurseries have also been closed in five prefectures as of March 6. The network said the number of such facilities that are closing may rise in the future.

DOD to restrict travel of personnel to and from South Korea, Italy, China, Iran

Nikkei highlighted a Pentagon announcement on Wednesday that starting on Friday, U.S. service members and their dependents will be prohibited from traveling to and from South Korea, Italy, China, and Iran for the next 60 days because of the massive coronavirus outbreaks there. In making the announcement, Defense Secretary Esper underscored that the Pentagon's top priority remains the protection and welfare of U.S. military personnel. The daily expressed concern about a possible decline in the U.S. military's deterrence on the Korean Peninsula, as the travel restriction is bound to have adverse effects on the flexible deployment of U.S. troops.

Tokyo to continue cancellation or postponement of large-scale events until end of March

NHK reported that the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has decided to continue canceling or postponing large-scale events hosted by Tokyo until the end of this month in order to curb the spread of the new coronavirus. The measure, which began on March 22, was originally scheduled to end on March 15.

PM Abe's aide says Japan will not be target of U.S. entry ban

NHK reported online that visiting Special Foreign Policy Advisor to the LDP president Sonoura held a press conference on Wednesday after meeting with Assistant Secretary of State Stilwell and Deputy National Security Advisor Pottinger in Washington. He reportedly expressed the view that as of now, Japan will not be subjected to a U.S. entry ban or travel restriction due to the new coronavirus. According to the network, Sonoura asked for support for the four Japanese nationals on board the Grand Princess cruise ship that has been infected with the new coronavirus. Sonoura also reportedly disclosed that the two sides agreed that the governments of the U.S. and Japan should take leading roles in the development of international rules for cases in which the coronavirus spreads on cruise ships.

Abe pledges further cooperation with global community in combating COVID-19

NHK reported that in response to the WHO's designation of the coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic, Prime Minister Abe told reporters this morning: "I think the WHO made its decision based on the fact that the infection continues to spread globally. Japan will cooperate with the international community more than ever and strengthen measures to tackle the issue." He reportedly added that Japan has taken every possible step to safeguard the lives and health of its people and will implement all necessary measures without hesitation to contain and control the virus.

Asian Americans ask congressional leaders to address racial discrimination over COVID-19

NHK reported online that Asian American organizations and civil rights groups sent a joint letter on Wednesday urging the House and Senate leadership to take tangible steps to address the growing hostility toward Asian Americans. The letter, which was addressed to House Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader McCarthy, said: "We urge you to publicly denounce the increase in racist attacks and discrimination against the Asian American community, in the wake of rising concerns over COVID-19."

SDF begins releasing stock of surgical masks

Fuji TV reported that in light of the shortage of face masks amid the coronavirus outbreak, the Defense Ministry has begun releasing masks stockpiled by the SDF. The network showed SDF personnel moving boxes of surgical masks at GSDF Camp Youga in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo, this morning, saying that out of about 1.55 million face masks stockpiled by the SDF, the MOD is planning to release one million of them. As the first step, about 350,000 masks will reportedly be released and transferred to a private logistics company's warehouse in Tokyo and delivered to medical institutions through the MHLW. TBS carried a similar story.

MOFA cautions Japanese citizens in U.S. or planning to travel there to be on alert

NHK reported this morning that MOFA has issued a travel advisory to Japanese citizens currently in the U.S. or planning to travel there telling them to be on alert for the possibility of the coronavirus spreading further in the U.S. and to pay attention to the latest information.

Chinese technical trainee dismissed due to coronavirus infection (Tokyo Shimbun evening edition)

Olympics: WHO pandemic declaration will not change plans for Tokyo Games: Suga (Kyodo News)

Cherry blossom festival in U.S. capital to scale down due to virus (Kyodo News)

Coronavirus: Why Japan chose to test fewer people (Nikkei Asian Review)

Infographic: 1,330 persons in Japan confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 (NHK digital)

Clock ticks down on decision time for Tokyo Olympics (Nikkei Asian Review)

Online medical services to widen in fight against new coronavirus (The Asahi Shimbun)

Japan was warned in 2018 to improve epidemic risk communications (Nikkei Asian Review)

Editorial: All-embracing measures needed to fight coronavirus, protect livelihoods (The Japan News)

Coronavirus to cut foreign tourist spending in Japan by 981 b. yen (Jiji Press)

Editorial: New legislation to tackle the virus fails to put concerns to rest (The Asahi Shimbun)


Execs accused of exporting bio-agent producing device to S. Korea (Kyodo News)

Japan pays $38 hazard bonus to troops on coronavirus duty (Nikkei Asian Review)


U.S. human rights report raps China's Uygur abuse, notes Ghosn arrest (Kyodo News)

Editorial: Postponed Xi Jinping visit a chance for Japan to rethink its China policy (Japan Forward)


BOJ Kuroda vows to act as appropriate after meeting with Abe (Jiji Press)

Japan prepares to hand out cash to parents (Nikkei Asian Review)

Toyota halts pay raises for first time in 7 years, joining Nippon Steel (Nikkei Asian Review)

Japan's ailing small businesses hang by a 1-month thread (Nikkei Asian Review)

Bank of Japan pulls out disaster playbook to tackle coronavirus (Nikkei Asian Review)

Japan won't allow English for foreign investment screening (Nikkei Asian Review)

Japan to raise state prices of imported wheat by 3.1 pct (Jiji Press)

Haneda's new flight routes to go into operation at month-end as scheduled (Asahi)

Japan's ad spending on Internet overtakes TV in 2019 (Jiji Press)


Abe marks 3,000 days in office as virus overshadows term (Kyodo News)

Prime minister's schedule on March 11, 2020 (Sankei)

Gist of interpellations at Upper House plenary session and Lower House meetings of cabinet and judicial affairs committees, March 11, 2020 (Asahi)

Kishida and Suga do not comment on idea of partnership suggested by Koga (Asahi)

LDP factions working to build ties with junior members (Nikkei)

Zero Nuclear Basic Bill shelved for two years (Tokyo Shimbun)

Komeito dissatisfied with Kantei's unilateral decisions on coronavirus measures (Mainichi)

Aso "again" makes statement that encourages discrimination (Akahata)


Editorial: 9 years after Japan triple disaster, time to rethink community (The Mainichi)

Editorial: The reality of Fukushima 9 years after 3/11; still more to do (The Asahi Shimbun)

Editorial: Make good use of infrastructure developed since great earthquake (The Japan News)

Tokyo police arrest 2 for obtaining stolen cryptocurrency (Jiji Press)

School bullying cases increase in Japan in 2019 (Jiji Press)

Machine maker's pres. arrested for illegal export to China (Jiji Press)

Child victims of social media-linked crimes hit record in Japan (Jiji Press)

Japan police detect record 1,991 child abuse victims in 2019 (Jiji Press)


High level of pollutants detected in drain near Camp Hansen

Ryukyu Shimpo wrote that the government of Kin Town surveyed rivers and drains at eight locations in the municipality in October 2019 in response to the detection of perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in waters near MCAS Futenma and Kadena AB. After detecting PFOS and PFOA higher than 300 nanograms (ng) per liter at the mouth of a drain running from Camp Hansen to the Red Beach Training Area, the municipality conducted follow-up surveys at three locations in November 2019 and detected 94 ng of the chemicals in a part of the drain near Camp Hansen, 51 ng in the middle of the drain, and 71 ng at the outlet. The paper wrote that although there is no legally binding water quality standard for PFOS and PFOA contamination in Japan, the Ministry of Health is planning to set 50 ng per liter as an interim target level on April 1. The paper wrote that the town suspects that water discharged from Camp Hansen could be the cause of the contamination because the level was highest near the camp. Kin Mayor Nakama reportedly said that his municipality will work with the Okinawa Prefectural Government to have experts conduct a survey at the base to determine the cause of contamination. The paper noted that the water in the drain is not used for farming or daily life.

Marines' live-fire exercises conducted outside agreed period to be discussed at Japan-U.S. Joint Committee (Okinawa Times)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team