Afternoon Alert   -   Wednesday, May 20, 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

Fuji TV led with a report that the GOJ has decided to lift the state of emergency for Osaka, Kyoto, and Hyogo tomorrow, adding that there is a growing view that the GOJ will forgo lifting it for the other remaining prefectures since Tokyo, Kanagawa, and Hokkaido have yet to meet the government targets. The network quoted a senior GOJ official as saying, however, that there is still a possibility that the state of emergency will be lifted for Tokyo tomorrow, adding that the GOJ will closely monitor the number of new cases and healthcare capacity up until the last minute. TBS gave top play to a report that many governors voiced concern at a meeting of the National Governors' Association this morning that people may let down their guard as a result of the lifting of the state of emergency for Osaka, Kyoto, and Hyogo tomorrow. TV Asahi led with a report that the Japan High School Baseball Federation is expected to decide this afternoon whether to cancel the National High School Baseball Championship scheduled to begin in August in view of the coronavirus outbreak. NHK gave top play to a report on a fire that broke out in a house in Nara this morning, saying that the bodies of five people were found there. NTV gave top play to an update on the campaign scandal involving former Justice Minister Kawai and his wife Anri Kawai.


Preliminary evaluation of clinical trial fails to verify Avigan’s effectiveness in treating COVID-19

NHK, NTV, and Kyodo reported that a provisional evaluation of the results of a clinical test of the flu drug Avigan apparently did not verify its effectiveness in treating the novel coronavirus. In the trial conducted at a medical college in Aichi Prefecture, the drug was administered to a total of 86 COVID-19 patients with mild or no symptoms. They were divided into two groups, with the patients in the first group being given Avigan for ten days beginning on the day they were admitted to the hospital. The patients in the second group were given the drug for six days starting on the sixth day after hospitalization. The results apparently did not show any meaningful difference between the two groups in reduction of viral load. A third-party panel of experts who reviewed the results reportedly decided that it is still too early to draw a conclusion on the effectiveness of the medicine, recommending the continuation of such tests before making a final evaluation. The outlets projected that it is becoming increasingly difficult for the Health Ministry to approve Avigan for COVID-19 treatment by the end of this month as promised by Prime Minister Abe.  

•  Why Japan has fewer coronavirus deaths than Western countries   (Weekly Diamond digital)

•  Infographic: Trends in no. of coronavirus cases and positive test rate in Tokyo   (Tokyo Shimbun)

•  Antiflu Avigan not showing apparent efficacy in coronavirus treatment   (Kyodo News)

•  University of Tokyo study predicts second wave 30 days after lifting state of emergency   (Nikkei)

•  Editorial: Coronavirus pandemic testing Japanese society’s tolerance   (The Mainichi)

•  Japan to offer up to 200,000 yen to students in distress   (Jiji Press)

•  Job placement agencies for foreign workers suspected of contract fabrication   (Asahi)

•  Foreign residents stranded abroad by Japan’s coronavirus controls – Japan is the only Group of Seven member denying entry to long-term and permanent residents –   (The Japan Times)

•  Tokyo Olympic committee slams foreign journalist association over magazine cover   (Jiji Press)

•  Editorial: Central, local govts should team up to devise exit strategy for epidemic   (The Japan News)

•  Infographic: 17,106 persons in Japan confirmed to be infected with COVID-19   (NHK digital)


•  Taiwan is ‘extremely’ important, Japan’s diplomatic guideline says   (Nikkei Asian Review)

•  Japan seeks deeper G-7 talks to spread COVID-19 drugs   (Jiji Press)


•  Japan prepares cash injections for small, virus-hit companies – Over $465m earmarked to help ‘indispensable’ businesses through pandemic –   (Nikkei Asian Review)

•  BOJ to hold extraordinary policy meeting on Fri.   (Jiji Press)

•  Why isn’t MUFG subject to prescreening regulations for foreign investment?   (Nikkei)

•  Gov’t looks to revise law to protect rights over brand-name farm products   (Asahi)

•  Diet passes revised telecommunications law   (Nikkei)

•  Editorial: With reprocessing plant passing key test, Japan must show path ahead for nuclear fuel cycle policy   (The Japan News)


Suga comments on apparent leakage of data following major cyberattack

NHK reported that Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga told the press today that the Minister of Defense is investigating the apparent leakage of data on a hypersonic cruise missile that is currently under development. The network said the MOD is investigating what kind of information was leaked following a major cyberattack on Mitsubishi Electric, saying that a senior MOD official said the information may include data on a hypersonic cruise missile currently being developed in an effort to strengthen the defense of remote islands. Suga reportedly said: "The Defense Ministry is continuing to scrutinize the security implications of the information that may have been leaked. I'm not going to comment on the specifics." He went on to say: "When the Defense Ministry allows a company to handle sensitive information, the information is protected under the special provisions of a contract agreement." 

•  As China builds up missile forces, Japan lacks policy discussion   (The Asahi Shimbun)

•  Editorial: Basic rule for space squadron: Space cannot be a ‘battleground’   (The Asahi Shimbun)


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

•  Japan delays FY 2021 budget request deadline   (Jiji Press)

•  Editorial: Bill to revise public prosecutor law should be retired for good   (The Asahi Shimbun)

•  Editorial: Abe govt’s prosecutor retirement law blunder amid virus crisis shows arrogance   (The Mainichi)

•  Cartoon: Gone with the wind   (Asahi)


•  Japan’s microsatellites to head for the moon   (The Japan News)


•  Japan eyes 5-year transition for Sept. school enrollment   (Jiji Press)


U.S. military allegedly failed to disclose information about Futenma foam extinguisher leakage last year

Ryukyu Shimpo wrote that it has learned that the U.S. military wrote in an internal report issued in February that foam extinguisher containing PFAS leaked out of MCAS Futenma in December last year. The paper alleged that the U.S. military did not disclose the details of the incident. The paper alleged that a total of 37,853 liters of contaminated water leaked from a hangar building at the base, some of which was collected within the base. According to the paper, the report said the incident occurred due to human error and a delayed response increased the damage. 

The paper wrote that according to the Defense Ministry’s Okinawa bureau, the U.S. military told it immediately after the incident that it had removed almost all of the chemical from the installation and confirmed that there was no leakage out of the base. The paper alleged that the bureau passed this information on to the governments of Okinawa Prefecture and Ginowan City, but the U.S. military wrote in the internal report the paper obtained through a request based on the Freedom of Information Act that the chemical had leaked out of the base. The paper claimed that the U.S. military wrote in the report that although there was no visible evidence, foam extinguisher flowed into a drain and may have reached storm sewers and that the foam was not completely contained and some of it was blown away by wind and rain. The report also allegedly said that the leakage happened after a fire extinguishing system went off in response to heat because a power unit that should not have been activated at the hangar was used there, and that a total of 37,853 liters of water containing 1,136 liters of undiluted foam solution at a dilution rate of 3% leaked.

•  Two American suspects in Chatan robbery admit allegation   (Okinawa Times)

•  U.S. military operating Ospreys in Takae after 10:00 p.m.   (Okinawa Times)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team