Afternoon Alert   -   Tuesday, May 12, 2020
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Noon news

NHK gave top coverage to a report that an earthquake with a seismic intensity of 3 hit eastern Hokkaido at 11:44 a.m. today. Fuji TV led with a report that the GOJ is making arrangements to lift the state of emergency for 34 prefectures after convening a panel of experts on May 14, saying that Ibaraki and Gifu may also be included. NTV and TBS gave top coverage to reports that the National Governors' Association held an online meeting this morning, saying that the governors are expected to recommend to the government that people's movement across prefectural borders should continue to be restricted even if the state of emergency is partially lifted. TV Asahi led with a report that a body was found in a house that caught fire in Suita, Osaka, last night.


MHLW to approve antigen test kit on Wednesday

NHK reported that the MHLW will approve on May 13 an antigen test kit that can detect COVID-19 infection in a short period of time, saying that the kit is expected to be used mainly at specialized clinics in areas where there are many confirmed cases of COVID-19. The network said the antigen test is a simple way to check whether a person has been infected with the new coronavirus, adding that it does not require any special skills like the PCR test does and can deliver results in about 30 minutes. The network said the MHLW is expected to allow the antigen test to be covered by health insurance and to be swiftly put to practical use. The network noted, however, that the antigen test will only be conducted at medical institutions that are already conducting PCR testing as there is a risk of infection when administering tests. According to an MHLW source, the test kit will be used in areas with high numbers of coronavirus cases, such as Tokyo, Kanagawa, Osaka, and Hokkaido. Noting that the antigen test is less accurate than the PCR test, the network said some people may test negative even if they are infected, adding that the MHLW is therefore planning to have those who test negative undergo PCR testing as well. The manufacturer of the test kit, Fujirebio, is expected to be able to produce about 200,000 units per week.

GOJ begins delivering remdesivir to medical institutions

NHK reported that Health Minister Kato told the press this morning that yesterday the GOJ began delivering supplies of the antiviral drug remdesivir received from a U.S. pharmaceutical maker to medical institutions to treat COVID-19 patients. The network said the MHLW is planning to only administer the drug to seriously ill patients, quoting the minister as saying: "We confirmed the number of patients at each medical institution who will be given the drug through an online survey in order to appropriately deliver it to patients in need." When asked how much of the medicine Japan has received from the manufacturer, Kato reportedly said: "The drug was provided by the pharmaceutical firm on the condition that the amount would not be disclosed, and we intend to keep that promise."

•  MHLW changes calculation method for COVID cases   (Tokyo Shimbun)

•  Errors found in Tokyo count of COVID-19 cases, cumulative total increased by 76   (NHK digital)

•  Tokyo increases its total coronavirus cases by 76 after discovering reporting errors   (Asahi)

•  Actual number of coronavirus cases still unknown, could be 10 or 20 times released figures   (Asahi digital)

•  Japan’s foreign student numbers drop drastically while students struggle amid pandemic   (The Japan News)

•  Anti-plague yokai monster image available for download   (The Japan News)

•  CT scan used to determine seriousness of coronavirus infection   (Nikkei)

•  Commentary: What will happen to inclusion in COVID-19’s wake?   (The Japan Times)

•  Editorial: Take thorough anti-infection steps at disaster-related evacuation centers   (The Japan News)

•  Editorial: Excessive haste in approving COVID-19 drugs is a no-no   (The Asahi Shimbun)

•  Editorial: Advance digital tech with consideration for workers   (The Mainichi)

•  Editorial: Plusses and minuses to speedy Japan approval of Remdesivir to treat COVID-19   (The Mainichi)

•  Japan authorities to set up live cameras at ports   (The Japan News)

•  Infographic: 16,680 persons in Japan confirmed to be infected with COVID-19   (NHK digital)


•  China proposes fast-track entry for Japanese business travelers   (Nikkei Asian Review)

•  Commentary: Remembering Yukio Okamoto   (The Japan Times)

•  Cartoon: A corona   (Tokyo Shimbun)


•  Japan teams with 400 companies to cut reliance on China medical goods   (Nikkei Asian Review)

•  Coronavirus-related bankruptcies top 130 in Japan   (NHK WORLD)

•  Japan’s GDP shrinks 3.5% in March amid pandemic: JCER   (Nikkei Asian Review)

•  Keidanren wants digital transformation in Japan’s own style   (Jiji Press)

•  Mitsubishi Heavy logs operating loss for FY2019   (NHK WORLD)

•  JBIC to offer dollar-denominated, low-interest loans to help virus-hit firms   (Nikkei)

•  Editorial: Banks should review money transfer fees to ease burden on customers   (The Japan News)

•  Japan’s nuclear fuel reprocessing plant to soon receive prerequisite approval for operation   (The Japan News)


•  Japan must act swiftly to ensure security of information, communications system China trying to take the lead in 5G, undersea cable networks   (The Japan News)

•  Russian military uses private-sector infrastructure in electronic warfare: expert   (Sankei)


•  Prime minister’s schedule on May 11, 2020   (Sankei)

•  Gist of interpellations at Lower, Upper House Budget Committees, May 11, 2020   (Tokyo Shimbun)

•  Defending virus handling, Abe signals willingness to compile second extra budget   (The Japan Times)

•  Japan to compile 2nd extra budget for COVID-19 response   (Jiji Press)

•  Editorial: Abe’s bid to alter prosecutors law is blatant abuse of power   (The Asahi Shimbun)


•  NASA official: Noguchi may go into space as early as this year   (Sankei)


•  Japan shouldn’t rush decision on academic year, scholars caution – Group says switch to a September start would require “10 years or more” of follow-up and have huge financial implications –   (The Japan Times)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team