Afternoon Alert   -   Friday, March 13, 2020
The following information reflects the reporting of the cited news media and does not reflect the opinions of the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. Japan Media Highlights is intended for USG use only and should not be forwarded. Visit the website here. For more information, contact TokyoMATT@state.gov.


Noon news

NHK gave top play to a report on a teleconference between President Trump and Prime Minister Abe today, during which Abe explained Japan's efforts to hold the Tokyo Olympics. TBS led with a report that President Trump suggested on Thursday that the Tokyo Olympics should be postponed for a year rather than holding the events in empty stadiums. NTV, Fuji TV, and TV Asahi gave top play to reports that the Nikkei Stock Average temporarily plunged below 17,000 today, following a record drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average.


PM Abe explains to President Trump Japan's efforts to hold Tokyo Olympics

NHK reported this morning that Prime Minister Abe held a teleconference with President Trump for about 50 minutes this morning, during which he told the President that Japan is making efforts to hold the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. President Trump reportedly responded by welcoming Japan's "transparent efforts." The network said the two leaders agreed to continue to cooperate on the matter, and also exchanged views on the current situation and future handling of the coronavirus pandemic. All commercial networks aired similar reports.

NHK also reported on a press briefing by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga this morning. When asked by reporters whether President Trump referred to his earlier remarks on postponing the Olympics for a year during the teleconference with Abe, Suga reportedly said: "Nothing like that came up while I was present."

Opinion: Three requirements for Japan to maintain security treaty with U.S. (Sankei)


IOC chief: IOC to follow WHO's advice on whether to cancel Tokyo Olympics

All networks reported that IOC President Bach said in an interview with a German television station on Thursday that he has been holding meetings with WHO experts regularly on the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics since mid-February, and that if the WHO recommends canceling the games, the committee will follow that recommendation. TBS said that this is the first time for the head of the IOC to comment on the criteria for cancelling the Olympics. The network added, however, that President Bach also said the IOC is still making preparations for "successful" games.

Meanwhile, the networks quoted Tokyo Governor Koike as telling the press this morning: "For Tokyo, canceling the Olympics is not an option." Olympics Minister Hashimoto was quoted as telling the press today: "We will do our best to open the Tokyo Olympics on July 24 and hold all of the events as scheduled."

Senior MHLW officials who worked on cruise ship to resume normal duties

NHK reported online that Health Minister Kato told the press today that State Minister Hashimoto and Parliamentary Vice Minister Jimi, who were working aboard the Diamond Princess, will resume their regular duties on March 16. The network said they have been teleworking for two weeks since they disembarked from the cruise ship after testing negative. Minister Kato reportedly said that neither of the officials has any health issues.

JAL decreases more domestic flights

NHK reported online that Japan Airlines has announced an additional reduction in domestic flights in light of the spread of the new coronavirus, saying that it will cut about 160 flights per day on 60 domestic routes from March 20 to 28. The airline has already announced the reduction of about 70 flights per day on 42 domestic routes from March 12 to 19.

Argentina to quarantine visitors from Japan

According to NHK, the government of Argentina announced on Wednesday that it will require visitors from nine countries, including Japan, China, and Italy, to quarantine themselves for 14 days and will fine them if they fail to comply. The network also wrote that Argentina will also void short-term visas issued to people from these nations. Argentina also announced on Thursday that it will stop accepting flights from nations and regions infected with the new coronavirus, including those via Japan, for 30 days.

Japan raises travel alerts due to pandemic (NHK WORLD)

What would it cost Japan to cancel the Olympics? (The Japan Times , AFP-JIJI)

Gov't wary of possibility of U.S. imposing travel restrictions on Japan (Nikkei)

Italy's store closures, U.S.'s lower auto demand may affect Japanese firms (Asahi)

Japan considering 3rd batch of coronavirus measures (Jiji Press)

'Last resort' COVID-19 treatment in short supply at Japan's hospitals (The Japan Times)

Editorial: More policy aid needed for those feeling the pinch of the virus (The Asahi Shimbun)

Editorial: Japan's additional coronavirus measures should help the vulnerable (The Japan News)

Tokyo governor says canceling Olympics 'not an option': Japanese organizers brace for impact of WHO pandemic announcement on sentiment (Nikkei Asian Review)

Focus: Experts foresee Tokyo Games without spectators if virus lingers (Kyodo News)

36 pct of firms in Japan worried about Olympics cancellation (Jiji Press)

Editorial: Japan should brace for prolonged battle against coronavirus (The Mainichi)

Infographic: 1,387 persons in Japan confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 (NHK digital)

Cartoon: Hope springs eternal (Asahi)

Cartoon: Sweeping aside human rights (Akahata)

Editorial: Nations must work together to halt new coronavirus pandemic (The Japan News)


No abnormalities detected by SDF in Middle East

Nikkei reported online that according to the Defense Ministry, an MSDF warship and two P3C planes that are currently engaged in intelligence collection operations in the Middle East did not detect any abnormal occurrences from Jan. 20 through Feb. 29. The SDF reportedly identified some 3,000 ships during the period. The ministry plans to release a monthly activity report on the patrol operations.

Browsing histories of 12 gov't agencies had been sent to Google (Yomiuri)

Editorial: Govt, companies must work together to protect national economic security (The Japan News)

Editorial: Protect publishing culture from illegal sites with appropriate regulations (The Japan News)

Infographic: Total no. of days Japan-U.S. joint exercises were held (Akahata)


BOJ to pump 500-b.-yen liquidity again to calm markets (Jiji Press)

Big Japan firms' sentiment falls to 5-yr low amid virus spread (Kyodo News)

Editorial: Unions, management must cooperate to overcome difficulty of wage hikes (The Japan News)

Bullet trains combat snow delays with cameras and heaters: Japanese railway looks to keep service punctual with busier schedule (Nikkei Asian Review)


How do "post-Abe" candidates fare in an emergency situation (Sankei)

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

Prime minister's schedule on March 12, 2020 (Sankei)

Abe cabinet OKs bills to raise retirement age for gov't workers to 65 (Jiji Press)

Abe and Koike met over the new coronavirus, some suspect extra motive (Yomiuri)


Research team cooks up space mission for 'ninja food' (The Japan News)

Satellites to be used for wireless communication on disasters (Yomiuri)


Jiji Press Public Opinion Poll on the Great East Japan Earthquake (Jiji Press Public Opinion Poll Bulletin)


Okinawa to expand surveys of toxic substances near U.S. bases

Okinawa Times wrote that the Okinawa prefectural government plans to conduct field surveys to check for potential contamination with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), possible carcinogens, in areas around all U.S. military bases in fiscal 2020, which begins in April. Until now, such surveys have only been conducted at 18 locations near Kadena AB and MCAS Futenma. The local government is set to identify 36 additional sites in the vicinity of other U.S. installations to check whether or not local water is contaminated with the toxic substances.

American contractor working for U.S. Marine Corps arrested on DUI charges (Okinawa Times)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team