Afternoon Alert   -   Thursday, April 2, 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 led with a report on what appears to be an in-hospital infection in Kita Kyushu, Fukuoka, saying that 17 medical staff at a hospital tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday after a patient there was confirmed to be infected with the virus on Tuesday. TBS gave top play to a report that Yokohama announced today that nine additional people in the city were found to be infected with COVID-19, including an intern in her 20s at Yokohama Municipal Citizens' Hospital. The hospital is a Designated Medical Institution for Specified Infectious Diseases. Fuji TV led with a report on a cluster of infections in Fukui Prefecture. NTV gave top play to a report that Kyoto Prefecture and Kyoto City have called on residents to avoid non-essential travel to the Tokyo metropolitan area or Osaka and Hyogo prefectures.TV Asahi led with a report saying that this morning there were 29 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Japan, bringing the total number to 2,432.


COVID-19 cluster at Tokyo hospital possibly connected to houseboat party infection

TV Asahi reported that according to analysis by an MHLW taskforce on COVID-19 cluster infections, a cluster that occurred at a hospital in Taito Ward, Tokyo, in which more than 100 people got infected and seven people died, may have been caused by a patient who got infected at a New Year's party held on a Yakata houseboat in Tokyo in mid-January. The network said a patient who got infected with the virus during the houseboat event was admitted to the hospital on Jan. 18. Either this patient or another patient who returned from France is believed to have spread the virus to another patient in the hospital, who then spread the virus to medical practitioners and other patients.

Number of COVID-19 cases on USS Theodore Roosevelt reaches 93

NHK reported this morning that Acting Secretary of the Navy Modley told the press on Wednesday that the number of COVID-19 cases on the USS Theodore Roosevelt has reached 93. The network said the captain of the nuclear carrier, which is docked in Guam, is requesting that all 5,000 sailors be disembarked and quarantined at a facility on land. Acting Secretary Modley reportedly said the U.S. Navy is preparing to secure a hotel in Guam for the sailors and about 2,700 sailors will soon be disembarked from the carrier. He also said not all of the sailors will be able to leave the carrier as someone needs to maintain the nuclear reactor and aircraft on the ship. He also reportedly stressed the need to keep some sailors onboard in order to ensure that the nuclear carrier can be deployed in the event of a contingency.

Japanese doctor recounts his experience treating an American coronavirus patient from Diamond Princess

Wednesday’s Yomiuri ran a full-page article about the COVID-19 crisis on the Diamond Princess cruise ship. Ichiro Takeuchi, an emergency medicine professor at Yokohama City University, recounted to the paper his experience treating a 72-year-old American woman who was infected with the virus on the cruise ship. He said she fell seriously ill after being transferred to his hospital on Feb. 10 but has now recovered to where she can speak and walk and breathe without a ventilator after intensive care using such techniques as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. The doctor said she told him that her being able to walk again is like a miracle.

•  Consumer consultations on coronavirus surge in Japan   (Jiji Press)

•  Are Tokyo’s hospitals and health care system ready for a COVID-19 storm?   (The Japan Times)

•  Amid shutdowns elsewhere, government plans to continue Diet business as usual   (The Japan Times)

•  Japan introduces ban on indoor smoking   (Jiji Press)

•  Vox Populi: Japan’s lack of disclosure over virus only fuels harmful rumors   (The Asahi Shimbun)

•  Editorial: Policy responses must prepare for unprecedented virus downturn   (The Asahi Shimbun)

•  Japan to help boost output of ventilators, oxygenators   (Jiji Press)

•  Editorial: Make good use of additional time for next summer’s Tokyo Games   (The Japan News)

•  Editorial: Japan must prepare medical system for possible explosive rise in virus cases   (The Mainichi)

•  Editorial: New Tokyo Olympics start date offers a chance to tackle mounting problems   (The Mainichi)

•  Hospitals, companies rush to develop COVID-19 remedy   (Jiji Press)

•  Editorial: Scandals hang over Abe as coronavirus measures prompt surge in spending   (The Mainichi)

•  Stranded tourists flock to Tokyo immigration bureau already overwhelmed by seasonal rush   (The Japan Times)

•  Editorial: Closed-door policy amid coronavirus pandemic cannot continue   (The Mainichi)

•  Cartoon: Empty bridge   


•  Abe mulls canceling trip to Moscow in May amid virus spread   (Kyodo News)

•  The world is less safe when leaders videoconference   (Nikkei Asian Review)

•  U.S. lawsuits seek to pin coronavirus blame on China   (Nikkei Asian Review)

•  Japan-Thai friendship tested in time of crisis   (The Japan News)



•  BOJ’s Tankan diffusion index logs negative for 1st time in 7 years   (The Japan News)

•  Japan’s pension giant suffers record $166bn quarterly loss: Nomura   (Nikkei Asian Review)

•  Former Goldman Sachs executive named as GPIF chief investment officer   (Nikkei evening edition)

•  Coronavirus spurs Terumo and Senko to make more heart-lung machines   (Nikkei Asian Review)

•  Japan dept. stores log record sales drops amid virus spread   (Jiji Press)

•  Subaru suspends operations at all domestic and overseas production bases   (The Japan News)

•  Editorial: Take steps to mitigate further business slump due to coronavirus   (The Japan News)

•  Editorial: Japan govt’s sluggish coronavirus response risks economic oblivion   (The Mainichi)

•  KDDI, Softbank team up on rural-area 5G network development   (Jiji Press)

•  SoftBank joins ultrafast 5G race as domestic competition heats up   (Kyodo News)

•  Japan’s Feb. jobless rate flat at 2.4% ahead of virus impact   (Kyodo News)



•  Concern that pandemic might erode U.S. deterrence in Pacific region   (Yomiuri)

•  Over 80 firms launch association to protect transportation networks from cyberattacks   (Sankei)


•  Prime minister’s schedule on April 1, 2020   (Sankei)

•  Japan Diet to stay in session under possible emergency declaration   (Jiji Press)

•  Ishiba’s popularity may not be as solid as it seems   (Sankei)

•  LDP secures largest political subsidy in eight years in a row   (Sankei)

•  Editorial: Devise measures to secure local assembly members under actual circumstances   (The Japan News)



•  University of Tokyo, Waseda sign comprehensive partnership deal   (Nikkei)

•  Mount Fuji eruption would paralyze Tokyo, panel warns   (The Asahi Shimbun)


•  Japanese police investigated 11,000 foreigners in 2019   (Kyodo News)

•  Japan sees record 4,300 cannabis offenders in 2019   (Kyodo News)



Okinawa officials comment on U.S. refusal to release info on COVID-19 cases among military

The two major Okinawa papers reported on local reactions to the DOD’s decision not to disclose the details of coronavirus infections among military personnel, including information on the bases and units where COVID-19 cases have occurred. On the cases at Kadena AB, Governor Tamaki was quoted by Ryukyu Shimpo as saying yesterday that the prefectural government will continue trying to obtain from the U.S. side as much information as possible and make it available to local residents. He admitted, however, that the disclosure of such information to the public might not be allowed. A prefectural government official in charge of public health reportedly noted that if detailed information were provided, he would respect the U.S. military’s preference not to share it with the public. “There is a chance that the U.S. would decide not to provide any more information if requirements for nondisclosure were not met," he said. "Obtaining information is critical when dealing with a public health crisis.” According to the daily, Kadena authorities promised on Wednesday to continue to provide relevant information to the prefectural government. The base authorities also reportedly informed the local government that the three base community members with the virus apparently were not in “close contact” with any local residents before they tested positive.

According to Okinawa Times, Vice Governor Jahana voiced displeasure with the U.S. military’s policy by saying: “Okinawa is not part of the United States. If the U.S. military considers itself to be a ‘good neighbor,” it is a matter of course for it to provide us with relevant information so that the local residents can live in peace” A Kadena AB public affairs official reportedly told the prefectural government on Tuesday that every service member and pilot who visits the installation is subject to a “medical check” upon entry and departure.      

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team