Afternoon Alert   -   Thursday, May 21, 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

All networks gave top play to reports that Tokyo High Public Prosecutors Office chief Hiromu Kurokawa has decided to step down following an allegation that he played mahjong for money with journalists in early May despite the state of emergency in response to the coronavirus.


Aichi college objects to media reports on its clinical trials of Avigan

All national dailies reported that Fujita Health University in Aichi Prefecture held a press conference on Wednesday regarding its ongoing clinical trials of the flu drug Avigan for COVID-19 treatment. They reportedly said the study will continue since no safety issues were identified by an independent panel that made a preliminary evaluation. The officials dismissed earlier media reports asserting the review panel tentatively concluded that Avigan’s effectiveness was not verified. They underscored that the midterm evaluation was not intended to examine the medicine’s effectiveness in the first place.

•  Journalists’ club removes parody of Olympic logo depicting COVID-19   (Kyodo News)

•  Coronavirus vaccine unlikely to be developed this year: Japan expert   (Kyodo News)

•  Editorial: Quickly correct delay in disbursing uniform ¥100,000 in pandemic aid   (The Japan News)

•  Emperor, Empress express gratitude to medical workers   (Jiji Press)

•  COVID-19 triggers calls for altering lay judge system   (Jiji Press)

•  Infographic: 17,145 persons in Japan confirmed to be infected with COVID-19   (NHK digital)


Suga comments on President Trump’s tweet on G7 summit

Nikkei reported that Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga told the press this morning that the U.S. has proposed to Japan the idea of holding this year’s G7 summit in person. In reference to President Trump's tweet on the subject, Suga was quoted as saying: “I think it represents the President’s desire to normalize the world economy quickly.” The government spokesman said the U.S. government is still working out the specifics, including the timing, and Prime Minister Abe is considering whether or not to participate.

•  Japan seeks deeper ties with Taiwan as Tsai Ing-wen begins second term   (The Japan Times , Kyodo)

•  Editorial: Share Taiwan’s knowledge on system for preventing epidemics   (The Japan News)

•  Key piece in the Wuhan puzzle, China’s ‘bat woman’ goes dark   (Nikkei Asian Review)

•  China must not flex muscle as neighbors grapple with pandemic   (Nikkei Asian Review)

•  Cartoon: Demon marionettist   (Asahi)

•  Japan steers clear of directly criticizing China at WHO Assembly   (Yomiuri)


•  Questions & results from NHK public opinion poll on Japan and the U.S.   (NHK digital)


USS Theodore Roosevelt leaves port for first time in two months

NHK reported that the U.S. Navy announced that the nuclear carrier Theodore Roosevelt, which was hit by a major COVID-19 outbreak in March, left Guam on Thursday for the first time in two months and headed toward the Philippine Sea to conduct training. The network said that at one point there were no U.S. carriers that could be deployed in the Asia-Pacific region, adding that the U.S. Navy is rushing to restore its operational readiness. The network quoted Rear Adm. Baker, commander of Carrier Strike Group 9, as saying in a statement: “Getting Theodore Roosevelt and Carrier Air Wing 11 one step closer to returning to their mission in the Indo-Pacific is a great achievement for the crew.”

•  Defense report warns about security challenges   (NHK WORLD)

•  Space — the new war zone?   (Asahi)

•  U.S. military faces down two challenges in western Pacific: COVID-19 and China   (The Japan Times)

•  New missile data feared leaked via cyberattack on M’bishi Electric   (Kyodo News)

•  Mitsubishi Electric attack likely stole data on new missile   (The Asahi Shimbun)


•  Kyushu Electric shuts another n-reactor for delayed work   (Jiji Press)

•  Local TV footage used to analyze Fukushima N-plant explosion   (The Japan News)

•  METI and J-POWER to deploy carbon storage technology in Indonesia   (Nikkei)

•  Japan core machinery orders down 0.4 pct in March   (Jiji Press)


Judiciary proceedings held for two Americans who helped Ghosn escape

NHK reported at noon that judiciary proceedings for the two Americans who were arrested on Wednesday on charges of assisting former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn in fleeing Japan to Lebanon were held in Massachusetts on Wednesday to decide whether to transfer their custody to Japan. The network said the judiciary proceedings were held in the form of a videoconference, adding that although the two suspects attended the proceedings, they did not comment on the case. According to the network, a law enforcement official indicated that the Japanese side will formally file a request for the extradition of the two suspects. A federal judge reportedly explained that there are mainly two stages to deciding on an extradition, and after a court judges that extradition is possible, the State Department will make the final decision on the matter.

•  Airlines stepping up vigilance against human trafficking   (Nikkei)


•  Prime minister’s schedule on May 20, 2020   (Sankei)

•  Exclusive: Tokyo Prosecutor Kurokawa to resign   (Jiji Press)

•  Lower House Panel on Constitution to meet on May 28   (Jiji Press)


•  Japan launches Kounotori cargo transporter on final mission to ISS   (Kyodo News)


Kadena AB allows children of base personnel to attend off-base schools

Okinawa Times wrote that Kadena Air Base said in a Facebook message on Wednesday that it will lift its restriction prohibiting military personnel and private workers from sending their dependents to off-base schools. In addition, the base also authorized such activities as visiting beaches and public parks by updating its on/off-base activity guide implemented in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. However, other health protection measures previously implemented, such as the use of public transportation and taxis and off-base dining, reportedly remain in place. The paper wrote that the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Japan announced similar guidelines on Wednesday.

•  Chatan suspects may have spent stolen money on base   (Ryukyu Shimpo)

•  Over 3,000 takeoffs and landings observed at Kadena base in March   (Ryukyu Shimpo)

•  MOFA official says last year’s foam extinguisher leakage at Futenma was “minor”   (Ryukyu Shimpo)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team