Afternoon Alert   -   Monday, April 20, 2020
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Noon news

NHK, TBS, and Fuji TV led with reports that the GOJ has decided to make the rare move of modifying the supplementary budget in an effort to provide 100,000-yen cash handouts to every citizen, with NHK saying that this year's supplementary budget will amount to 25.6914 trillion yen ($238.2 billion). NTV and TV Asahi gave top play to reports that the number of people at major terminal stations dropped significantly over the weekend following the nationwide expansion of the state of emergency. NTV said the number of people in the vicinity of JR Shinagawa Station on Sunday was down 77% from three months ago. 


Ratio of positive results from COVID-19 tests increasing nationwide

NHK reported on Saturday evening on the finding that the ratio of people who tested positive for the new coronavirus in PCR tests is increasing nationwide. According to the report, while the nationwide positive ratio was 6.2% on average between January 15 and March 14, it doubled to 12.9% during the period from April 3 to 16. In Tokyo, the average ratio was 10% until March 14, but it rose to 56.1%, the highest in the country, during the period from April 3 to 16. In Saitama, the average ratio was 6.5% until March 14, but it climbed to 17.8% between April 3 and 16. As for local governments that have not disclosed some of their previous data, the average ratio between April 3 and 16 was 25.7% in Osaka, 19% in Kanagawa, and 15.6% in Chiba. The network explained that according to the MHLW, the positive ratio should be viewed as a reference because the disclosed number of PCR tests conducted may not include those done at private institutions. Tohoku Medical and Pharmaceutical University Professor Mitsuo Kaku reportedly said: "An increase in the positive test rate is thought to indicate that the number of hidden cases of infection has risen. The increase in the positive test rate is also attributed to the fact that more people are now being tested as the virus has become more widespread. If the positive test rate rises, more people will be diagnosed with COVID-19. This means a growing burden on the healthcare system. I understand that there are now cases where people cannot be tested even through a doctor has said testing is needed. To help those in serious condition, Japan needs to enhance its testing framework so that high-risk individuals, including the elderly and people who have a preexisting condition, can be given priority in testing.”

At least six unnatural deaths in Tokyo found to be caused by COVID-19

NTV reported on the finding that there have been a number of cases in Tokyo in which people who died due to "unnatural causes" have tested positive for COVID-19 postmortem. The network said that according to investigative sources, a man in his 60s who was found dead on a Tokyo street on April 9 was later confirmed to have been infected with the coronavirus. The network also reported on a case in which a person found dead at home tested positive for the coronavirus, saying that there were at least six deaths due to unnatural causes reported to the Tokyo Metropolitan Police over the last month that were later found to have been caused by the coronavirus.

•  Editorial: Strengthen systems to identify domestic violence amid pandemic   (The Japan News)

•  Only 40% telework in initial 7 Japanese prefectures under emergency declaration   (The Japan News)

•  Positive test rates for COVID-19 PCR tests appear to be rising nationwide   (NHK digital)

•  Editorial: Japan must urgently secure supplies, workers for strained medical field   (The Mainichi)

•  Editorial: Discrimination against patients only hurts efforts to combat virus   (The Asahi Shimbun)

•  Possible COVID-19 patients rejected by hospitals in Japan   (Jiji Press)

•  100,000-yen cash handout likely to cover foreign residents   (Jiji Press)

•  Nobel winner Yamanaka frets over Japan’s lax coronavirus fight   (Nikkei Asian Review)

•  View from Osaka: Pandemic forces organizers to mull options for 2025 Osaka Expo   (The Japan Times)

•  Unique face masks catching on in Japan amid virus crisis   (Jiji Press)

•  Tokyo hospitals running on empty and sense of moral duty   (The Asahi Shimbun)

•  Border control takes on new meaning at Japan’s airports   (The Japan News)

•  Agency to match jobless interns with companies seeking workers   (The Asahi Shimbun)

•  Infographic: 11,519 persons in Japan confirmed to be infected with COVID-19   (NHK digital)


ROK premier reportedly considering donating face masks to Japan, U.S.

Nikkei reported online from Seoul on an article asserting that Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun has instructed his deputies to look into the possibility of supplying face masks to Japan and the U.S. in order to “support Tokyo as a neighbor and Washington as an ally.” While noting that there is still strong demand for masks at home, the Korean report noted that the ROK government will study the idea very carefully. The Korean media reportedly speculated that Seoul is hoping that a donation of medical supplies will lead to a breakthrough in its political stalemate with Japan over disputes involving requisitioned workers and export controls.

•  Representative to Japan says Taiwan made swift preemptive moves based on lessons from SARS   (Nikkei)

•  Editorial: S. Korean ruling party landslide win earned by its handling of virus crisis   (The Japan News)

•  Analysis: Seoul seen keeping hard line on Japan after election   (Jiji Press)

•  China’s factories struggle without key import: foreign talent   (Nikkei Asian Review)

•  Editorial: World must support developing countries to prevent spread of virus   (The Japan News)

•  Editorial: Leaders must choose their words carefully amid global health crisis   (The Japan News)

•  Japan to donate 100 m. dlrs to new World Bank fund   (Jiji Press)

•  Editorial: Japan, rest of world must fight isolationism in these dark times   (The Asahi Shimbun)

•  Loose interpretation of former PM’s remark as “unsinkable aircraft carrier” changed Japan-U.S. ties   (Yomiuri)


•  Tokyo Report: Solutions needed for purchases of U.S. weapons   (Jiji Press)

•  Japan-U.S. deterrent challenged by coronavirus pandemic   (Jiji Press)


•  Nonregular workers’ income falls widespread amid virus crisis   (Jiji Press)

•  Japan enacts bills to protect “wagyu” genetic resources   (Jiji Press)

•  Lack of aid guarantees divides prefectures over emergency business closures   (The Japan Times)

•  Japan’s temp staff faces ‘May shock’ bigger than financial crisis   (Nikkei Asian Review)

•  Subaru and Kawasaki to halt production for Boeing   (Nikkei Asian Review)

•  Editorial: Put brakes on global recession by containing spread of infections   (The Japan News)

•  Commentary: A welcome shift away from shareholder supremacy   (The Japan Times)


•  Prime minister’s schedule on April 17, 2020   (Sankei)

•  Prime minister’s schedule on April 18, 2020   (Sankei)

•  Prime minister’s schedule on April 19, 2020   (Sankei)

•  Highlights of Japan-related events for April 20-26   (Kyodo News)

•  Bureaucratic opposition hinders policy implementation   (Sankei)

•  Press conference by the prime minister regarding the novel coronavirus   (Kantei Website)

•  Abe’s wife rook trip in mid-March amid coronavirus scare   (Jiji Press)

•  Japan to allow use of grants to aid business closures   (Jiji Press)

•  Editorial: Japan gov’t decision for COVID-19 handouts comes late after much confusion   (The Mainichi)

•  Editorial: Devise ways to vote with peace of mind by preventing infections   (The Japan News)

•  Nikai to become 2nd-longest serving LDP sec.-gen.   (Jiji Press)

•  Komeito cash handout demand highlights Abe’s fading power amid outbreak   (The Japan Times)

•  Cartoon: Spring of discontent (Tokyo Shimbun)


•  53% disapprove of gov’t handling of coronavirus, cabinet support level at 41%, Mainichi poll   (Mainichi)

•  Opinion poll & results from Mainichi Shimbun   (Mainichi)


•  Swift coronavirus test method found effective   (The Japan News)

•  Plasma therapy for coronavirus infections studied in Japan, other countries   (The Japan News)


Okinawa Governor Tamaki calls for SOFA revision

Monday’s Okinawa Times front-paged an interview with Okinawa Governor Tamaki regarding the 60th anniversary of the effectuation of the SOFA. He stressed the “absolute necessity” to amend the statute governing the status of U.S. military personnel in Japan in order to find "fundamental solutions" for issues caused by the presence of U.S. military bases, such as crime, misconduct, accidents, and environmental pollution. He was quoted as saying: “There is absolutely no other way than a thorough SOFA review to fundamentally resolve base-related problems…. This is a matter of national sovereignty.” The governor noted that neither improving the administration of the SOFA nor concluding supplementary pacts will be sufficient to resolve these outstanding issues. The Okinawa chief reportedly took issue with the U.S.-Japan Joint Committee on the grounds that its decision-making mechanism is not subject to public scrutiny. “It is a mechanism that prioritizes U.S. military thinking over the people’s lives,” he said.

•  Local governments to conduct onsite inspection into PFOS leak at Futenma   (Okinawa Times)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team