Afternoon Alert   -   Thursday, May 7, 2020
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Noon news

All networks gave top coverage to reports that there were many commuters at JR Shinagawa Station on the first day after the Golden Week holidays. The networks also reported that compared with a year before, the number of people was down by more than 80% at most tourist sites and key terminal stations across the nation on Wednesday, the last day of the Golden Week holidays.


Suga says state of emergency could be lifted on May 14 depending on experts’ views

NHK reported that concerning the nationwide state of emergency that has been extended until the end of this month, Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga told the press this morning that it could be lifted on May 14 even for Tokyo and the 12 other prefectures that are designated as areas for which special attention is warranted if the experts decide it is possible to do so. Suga reportedly said: "We will ask the experts to analyze and assess in detail the number of cases and medical care system in each region by around May 14, and based on the views of the advisory committee, we will lift the state of emergency if we deem it possible." 

Another Japanese drug under consideration for COVID-19 treatment

Mainichi reported online on an announcement made by Kitasato University yesterday that it will launch clinical trials for coronavirus treatment using a drug that one of its microbiologists helped develop four decades ago. Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Nishimura, who is in charge of the GOJ’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, visited the college on Wednesday and met with school administrators, including Professor Emeritus Omura, who won the Nobel Prize in 2015 for developing the drug Ivermectin, which has been used to treat river blindness and elephantiasis. As a U.S. college has reported that the medicine used for treating these diseases caused by parasitic worms was apparently found to be effective in treating the new pathogen, the school officials informed the minister of their plan to start clinical trials of Ivermectin for COVID-19 patients.

•  Burden on public health center workers behind slow increase of PCR testing   (The Japan News)

•  Japanese institute finds novel coronavirus RNA in rooms used by those infected on Diamond Princess cruise ship   (The Japan News)

•  2,000 Coronavirus-infected people staying home in Japan   (Jiji Press)

•  Japan urges ‘new lifestyle’ for long-term fight against coronavirus   (The Japan Times)

•  Japan worries about shortage of key chemicals for COVID-19 tests   (Kyodo News)

•  Japan to revise criteria on symptoms for being tested for virus   (Kyodo News)

•  Editorial: Long-term support needed as Japan’s state of emergency continues   (The Mainichi)

•  Effective reproductive number must drop below 0.5 in Tokyo, 0.7 nationwide: exert panel   (Sankei)

•  Tokyo to pay more to businesses that remain shut until May 31   (Kyodo News)

•  Chambers of Commerce supporting local biz amid epidemic   (Jiji Press)

•  Commentary– Japan’s response to COVID-19: A preliminary assessment   (The Japan Times)

•  Commentary– How Japan’s post-coronavirus reopening should proceed   (The Japan Times)

•  Commentary: In search of the pandemic-inspired innovation curve   (The Japan Times)

•  Sumo grand tournament in May canceled due to virus   (Kyodo News)

•  Editorial: Continue virus prevention as emergency set to be extended   (The Japan News)

•  Editorial: Deepen constitutional debate over measures for emergencies   (The Japan News)

•  Editorial: Take advantage of staying at home to experience culture, new things   (The Japan News)

•  Editorial: Improve medical arrangements to deal with extended state of emergency   (The Japan News)

•  Editorial: Use greater protections in revised law to find, rectify corporate fraud   (The Japan News)

•  Editorial: Gloomy outlook in Japan’s fight to beat COVID-19 in near future   (The Asahi Shimbun)

•  Editorial: Coronavirus pandemic a chance to correct distortion in capitalism   (The Mainichi)

•  Infographic: 16,189 persons in Japan confirmed to be infected with COVID-19   (NHK digital)

•  Elderly fight both coronavirus, frailty as emergency drags on   (Kyodo News)

•  EXCLUSIVE: Osaka patients forced to wait up to 10 days to take PCR tests   (Jiji Press)

•  Local govts urged to prepare for disasters amid virus spread   (Jiji Press)

•  Japan’s foreign work force hit by ‘coronavirus cuts’   (Nikkei Asian Review)

•  Game-changing life support for those with lung, heart problems   (The Asahi Shimbun)

•  Editorial: Tolerance, ability to criticize are core aspects of a healthy society   (The Asahi Shimbun)


Abe, Putin to hold teleconference this evening

Fuji TV reported on the finding that Prime Minister Abe and Russian President Putin will speak by phone this evening. The network said the two leaders are expected to discuss measures to deal with COVID-19 and exchange views on the peace treaty talks, including the territorial issue. The network said PM Abe was planning to visit Moscow on May 9 to attend a military ceremony and meet with President Putin, but decided to forgo the visit due to the coronavirus pandemic.

•  Can Kim Jong Un’s sister Kim Yo Jong take command of a “post-Kim Jong Un” North Korea?   (Gendai Business)

•  Editorial: International cooperation key to post-coronavirus world order   (The Mainichi)

•  Kim Jong Un intelligence shared with Seoul and Tokyo: US official   (Nikkei Asian Review)


•  Chargé Young stresses U.S. military’s readiness despite coronavirus pandemic   (NHK, NHK-BS1)

•  Japan’s shipbuilders jump at prospect of first hospital ship   (Nikkei Asian Review)

•  Still carrying nuclear waste, U.S. flattop leaves Yokosuka   (Akahata)

•  2nd MSDF destroyer to leave for Middle East   (Jiji Press)

•  Editorial: Create opportunity for nuclear disarmament despite delay in NPT meeting due to virus   (The Japan News)

•  Urgent need for Self-Defense Forces to share risk management skills and information   (Nikkei)

•  Coronavirus has only “very low impact” on U.S. military: Esper   (Kyodo News)


•  Coronavirus curbs LNG demand in China, Japan and South Korea   (Nikkei Asian Review)

•  Editorial: Make efforts to stabilize crude oil prices with further production cuts   (The Japan News)

•  Japan to ease investment rules to push bank-fintech marriage   (Nikkei Asian Review)

•  Chinese server giant Inspur wades into Japan’s $5bn market   (Nikkei Asian Review)

•  Coronavirus-linked bankruptcies rise sharply in Japan   (Kyodo News)

•  Economic toll mounts as Japan extends state of emergency   (Nikkei Asian Review)

•  Economists fear Japan’s GDP will drop by ¥23 trillion in coming month   (The Japan News)

•  Japan Jan.-March GDP seen to have shrunk annualized 5.2 pct   (Jiji Press)

•  16 Japan lenders refrain from investing in nuke-linked companies   (Kyodo News)

•  TPP countries defy protectionist trend to maintain supply chains   (Nikkei Asian Review)

•  Japan’s small companies apply for cash grants amid pandemic   (Nikkei Asian Review)

•  Japan to help shift output to ASEAN from China after virus disruption   (Kyodo News)

•  Over 70 pct of Japan firms in U.S. see sales fall: survey   (Jiji Press)

•  Startup targets Japan’s intensive care capacity as coronavirus hits   (Nikkei Asian Review)

•  SoftBank to offer coronavirus antibody tests for all employees   (Kyodo News)

•  Work from home’ to cost Japanese companies $12.1bn, study finds   (Nikkei Asian Review)


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

•  Prime minister’s schedule on May 2, 2020   (Sankei)

•  Prime minister’s schedule on May 3, 2020   (Sankei)

•  Prime minister’s schedule on May 4, 2020   (Sankei)

•  Prime minister’s schedule on May 5, 2020   (Sankei)

•  Highlights of Japan-related events for May 4-10   (Kyodo News)

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

•  Japan’s coronavirus testing behind the curve, Abe admits   (Nikkei Asian Review)

•  Necessary or not? The LDP’s proposed emergency powers clause for the Constitution   (The Japan Times)

•  Obituary: Sumiko Kishida, mother of LDP policy chief Kishida   (Nikkei)

•  Komeito halves number of candidates in Okinawa election due to virus   (Yomiuri)

•  Editorial: COVID-19 crisis no time to flirt with amending the Constitution   (The Asahi Shimbun)

•  Japan to set up mobile team to support nationals returning home   (Jiji Press)

•  Japan to promote provisional release for foreign detainees   (Jiji Press)


•  49% in Japan favor constitutional revisions, Yomiuri poll   (The Japan News)

•  53% say security legislation helps “strengthen Japan-U.S. alliance,” Yomiuri survey on the Constitution   (Yomiuri)

•  72% say no rush for Diet to revise Constitution, Asahi poll   (The Asahi Shimbun)


•  Coronavirus shackles Japan’s space startups with another crisis   (Nikkei Asian Review)

•  UV light robot destroys coronavirus in 2 minutes   (Nikkei Asian Review)


•  September school year best fits colleges: ex-Tokyo University chief   (Nikkei Asian Review)

•  Japan gov’t prods partial reopening of classes amid virus risks   (Kyodo News)

•  Editorial: Learning opportunities crucial amid prolonged school closures in Japan   (The Mainichi)


Okinawa not fully satisfied with PFOS surveys at Futenma

According to Okinawa Times, some Okinawa officials welcomed the fact that the U.S. military allowed them to enter MCAS Futenma several times to conduct onsite investigations into the recent leakage of foam extinguisher containing PFOS and other toxic chemicals. In reference to the water and soil sampling that they were permitted to conduct at several locations on the base, one prefectural government official reportedly said this was made possible thanks to a bilateral environmental pact that supplements the SOFA. However, the prefectural government is not fully satisfied with the situation because they were only given soil samples after the U.S. military had removed soil near the hangar where the spill took place. A prefectural government official conjectured that the local government was allowed to take water and soil samples to check for possible contamination perhaps because the base authorities apparently wanted to call attention to the sites having become “clean and safe" as a result of the soil removal operation. The daily added that the local government will continue to press the U.S. military to provide samples of the soil that was removed from the leakage site.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team