Afternoon Alert   -   Friday, May 1, 2020
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Noon news

TBS led with a report that according to several GOJ sources, the GOJ is making arrangements to extend the state of the emergency until the end of May. TV Asahi gave top coverage to a report that MEXT and other ministries have begun examining the issues that may arise if the start of the academic year is shifted from April to September and plan to compile them by as early as the beginning of June. NHK, NTV, and Fuji TV gave top play to reports on a meeting of the GOJ panel of experts on the new coronavirus that began this morning, saying that the panel will examine the impact of the government's stay-at-home requests and is expected to issue recommendations on the need for the public to continue avoiding nonessential outings. 


Japan to provide Avigan to 43 nations after Golden Week holidays

NHK reported this afternoon that Foreign Minister Motegi told reporters today that the Japanese government will begin providing the flu drug Avigan, which is expected to be effective in treating COVID-19, to 43 nations free of charge after the Golden Week holidays. According to the network, Motegi said that nearly 80 countries have asked Japan for the medicine, and Japan will begin sending the drug to 43 nations through an international organization after the holidays. Motegi reportedly said: "In the short term, drugs will be the key to bringing the new coronavirus under control. We hope to facilitate private-public sector cooperation as well as international cooperation on drugs such as Avigan, which is expected to be effective in treating patients during the early stages of the disease.“

U.S. intelligence agency says COVID-19 “not manmade”

NHK reported that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released a statement on Thursday saying that "the Intelligence Community also concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified."  The network said some U.S. media outlets have reported that the coronavirus outbreak began in a lab in Wuhan. Meanwhile, the network said the ODNI also said it "will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan.” The network said although Beijing is strongly denying the possibility that the outbreak originated in a lab in Wuhan, countries such as Germany and the UK are calling on China to reveal the truth.

About 10% of face masks distributed to pregnant women were moldy or yellowed

Fuji TV reported that the MHLW disclosed that out of the 470,000 face masks that the GOJ sent to local governments for distribution to pregnant women, about 46,934 were either moldy or yellowed. The network said although there was no problem with the quality of the masks that had turned yellow, the GOJ will resume distributing face masks to pregnant women starting in the middle of this month after inspecting them first.

•  MHLW to provide remdesivir for free to seriously ill patients   (Mainichi)

•  No. of emergency patients rejected by hospitals doubled compared to same period of previous year   (Tokyo Shimbun)

•  Infographics: Trends in new COVID-19 cases and COVID-19 doubling time in key prefectures   (Asahi)

•  Infographic: 15,017 persons in Japan confirmed to be infected with COVID-19   (NHK digital)

•  Crimes seizing on coronavirus outbreak on the rise   (The Japan News)

•  Editorial: Policy aid must be increased for extended state of emergency   (The Asahi Shimbun)

•  Amabie, epidemic-sealing yokai, gaining popularity in Japan   (The Japan News)

•  Editorial: Japan’s 25 tril. yen supplementary budget not enough as virus countermeasure   (The Mainichi)

•  Editorial: Coronavirus crisis demands world pool common wisdom to fight pandemics   (The Mainichi)

•  Japan begins distributing cash handouts for virus relief   (Kyodo News)

•  Yokohama yacht sail manufacturer starts producing reusable medical gowns   (The Japan News)

•  Essential workers taking risks despite harassment during virus crisis   (Kyodo News)

•  Editorial: Extend support for foreign students in Japan   (The Japan Times)

•  60% of Japanese students studying abroad say coronavirus is impacting their job searches, poll   (NIKKEI Business Daily digital)

•  Telework rate in Japan stands at 26 pct, way below govt goal   (Jiji Press)

•  COVID-19 reports sparking boorish behavior in communities   (The Asahi Shimbun)

•  Mysterious mask brokers supply Tokyo businesses amid shortages   (The Asahi Shimbun)

•  Japan’s Takara Bio cuts coronavirus test time in half   (Nikkei Asian Review)

•  Entrepreneurs who studied in U.S. building Japan’s startup ecosystem, uniting amid COVID-19 pandemic   (NIKKEI Business Daily)


President Trump says he’s seen “strong evidence” that COVID-19 originated in Wuhan lab

NHK, NTV, and Fuji TV reported in their noon news programs that President Trump told reporters on Thursday that he had seen "strong evidence" showing that COVID-19 originated at a lab in Wuhan. According to the networks, when asked if he had seen information that gave him confidence that the coronavirus was from the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China, the President reportedly said, "Yes, I have." NTV said that although the President had said previously that the virus spread from the Chinese lab, this was the first time for him to say that he has seen evidence of it. NHK reported that while there has been strong criticism of the initial response and remarks of President Trump over the COVID-19 outbreak, there is a growing view among Republicans that the Chinese government's responsibility should be clarified, adding that it has been reported that Secretary of State Pompeo and others have asked the intelligence community to look for any evidence that the virus originated in the Wuhan lab. NHK also said that while the Chinese government has been consistently denying such claims, President Trump is apparently aiming to shift the target of criticism to China, adding that according to U.S. media reports, there are concerns among intelligence agencies that information on the origin of the coronavirus will be used as a political tool. Fuji TV reported that the President is apparently stepping up his criticism of China by even reportedly referring to the possibility that China intentionally did not stop the virus from spreading. 

•  Focus: Experts ruminate who would succeed N. Korea’s Kim if anything happens   (Kyodo News)

•  Japan, Singapore to establish IT economy network in mid-May   (Yomiuri)

•  Japan proposes medical aid for developing nations in G-7 talks   (Jiji Press)


•  Japan firms to release patents for free use in virus fight   (Jiji Press)

•  Japan’s new car sales down 28.6% in April amid coronavirus spread   (Kyodo News)

•  Japan GDP to shrink 22% in Q2 in biggest postwar drop: forecast   (Nikkei Asian Review)

•  Japan’s retailers and manufacturers hunker down for longer closures   (Nikkei Asian Review)

•  Japan to secure $9.3bn in capital for coronavirus-threatened SMEs   (Nikkei Asian Review)

•  Japan to launch public-private council to promote underwater cable exports   (Yomiuri)

•  Japan’s industrial output falls to 7-year low in March   (Kyodo News)

•  Japan consumer confidence hits worst level ever   (Jiji Press)

•  Japan smaller firms’ biz sentiment worst in decade: survey   (Jiji Press)

•  Toyota and Honda to ramp up China plants to make up lost output   (Nikkei Asian Review)

•  Exclusive: Japan to export coronavirus telemedicine techs   (Jiji Press)

•  JAL’s annual net profit tumbles 64 pct   (Jiji Press)


•  Prime minister’s schedule on April 30, 2020   (Sankei)

•  Gist of interpellations at Upper House budget committee meeting, April 30, 2020   (Tokyo Shimbun)

•  Major items included in 2020 supplementary budget   (Asahi)

•  Editorial: Govt must use full array of measures to protect households and companies   (The Japan News)

•  In Japan’s record stimulus, which cleared the Diet, what will be on offer?   (The Japan Times)

•  Cabinet meeting to be held via video in Japan for 1st time   (Jiji Press)

•  Fukazawa joins LDP’s Kishida faction   (Yomiuri)

•  Japan and its policymakers search for light at end of COVID-19 tunnel   (The Japan Times)

•  A dispatch from the heart of Japan’s coronavirus epidemic   (The Japan Times)


•  SDF hospital taking strict infection-control measures against COVID-19   (The Japan News)

•  U.S. aircraft carrier Nimitz departs home port after sailors complete 27-day self-quarantine   (Sankei)

•  Japan steps up vigilance as China exploits pandemic to expand maritime push   (Sankei)

•  Clumsy strategy weakening bid to shore up remote island defenses   (The Asahi Shimbun)


•  Astronaut offers out-of-this-world tips for surviving a shut-in life   (The Asahi Shimbun)


•  Exclusive: Japan begins work to move school yr start to Sept.   (Jiji Press)

•  Go abroad: Japan employers and colleges eye globalized school year   (Nikkei Asian Review)

•  75% in Nikkei poll favor September start to Japanese school year   (Nikkei Asian Review)

•  Japan biz world seen welcoming Sept. school enrollment plan   (Jiji Press)

•  Japan Teachers’ Union says move to Sept. start of school too hasty   (Nikkei)


•  Japanese Emperor Naruhito marks 1 year since ascension   (Jiji Press)

•  Editorial: Emperor makes steady steps forward amid challenging start to new era   (The Japan News)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team