Afternoon Alert   -   Thursday, May 28, 2020
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Noon news

NHK, NTV, and TV Asahi gave top coverage to reports that the city of Kitakyushu in Fukuoka Prefecture temporarily closed its public facilities again today out of concern over a second wave of coronavirus infections. Fuji TV led with a report that three people working at a hospital in Koganei, Tokyo, have tested positive for COVID-19, saying that this could be the first cluster of infections after the lifting of the state of the emergency in Tokyo as 18 other people, many of whom are patients at the hospital, are experiencing fever and other symptoms. TBS led with a follow-up report on yesterday's arrest of the man suspected of setting fire to a Kyoto Animation Co. studio last July.


Suntory to discontinue use of hanko seals that stand in the way of teleworking

NHK reported that major beverage maker Suntory Holdings has decided to conduct a fundamental review of its work style premised on employees reporting to the office and gradually abolish the use of hanko seals starting next month by introducing an electronic clearing system. The network said about 7,000 employees, or 90% of the group's employees, are continuing to telework even after the lifting of the state of emergency, adding, however, that some employees have been required to go to the office as many as 20 times to affix seals to contracts and invoices. The network said that with the introduction of the electronic clearing system, the company is hoping to eliminate 60,000 hours of work annually as employees will be able to have contracts approved online.

GOJ to resume all-hands cabinet meetings on May 29

NHK reported that since the state of emergency has been lifted nationwide, the GOJ will resume all-hands cabinet meetings on Friday. The network said that in lieu of cabinet meetings, usually held twice a week, documents have circulated among cabinet ministers for their signatures since May 7 when the state of emergency was declared. The GOJ also held a cabinet meeting in the form of a teleconference on a trial basis on May 1. According to the network, Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga told the press this morning that following the lifting of the state of emergency on May 25, the GOJ will resume cabinet meetings with all ministers in attendance. The network added, however, that they will be held once a week in principle and the ministers will be required to wear masks and sanitize their hands, the room will be ventilated regularly, and the tables will be sanitized. In place of the second meeting of the week, documents will be circulated among the ministers. 

•  Japan gov’t asks people to take off masks outdoors to avoid heatstroke, keep 2m apart   (The Mainichi)

•  Infographic: 17,408 persons in Japan confirmed to be infected with COVID-19   (NHK digital)

•  Olympic logo row test of what level of satire is seen as tolerable   (The Asahi Shimbun)

•  Cartoon: Sounds of mah-jongg tiles   (Sankei)


•  Japan, EU to cooperate in coronavirus countermeasures   (Yomiuri)

•  Editorial: Taiwan’s success in containing the virus should be a lesson passed on   (The Asahi Shimbun)

•  China model” of development is waning: expert   (Yomiuri)

•  Coronavirus outbreak may accelerate “nationalistic approach”: expert   (Yomiuri)

•  COVID-19 research articles from 18 countries to be centrally managed by American institute   (Nikkei)


•  Key items in second supplementary budget plan   (Asahi)

•  How second supplementary budget solves deficiency of first   (Asahi)

•  Abe’s barrel-chested stimulus package lacks leg power – Prime minister touts it as world’s largest coronavirus relief budget –   (Nikkei Asian Review)

•  Commentary: The right economic response to the COVID-19 crisis   (The Japan Times)

•  Editorial: Ensure effective support measures to bolster re-starting economy   (The Japan News)

•  Gov’t’s intellectual property plan calls for Japan to lead in utilization of data   (Yomiuri)

•  Roundup of newspaper editorials on nuclear fuel cycle   (Sankei)

•  Upper House enacts bill to promote 5G, drones   (Asahi)

•  About 140 Japanese return to Wuhan on chartered plane   (Kyodo News)

•  Canon MJ to support manufacturers facing parts shortages amid virus crisis   (Jiji Press)


Defense Ministry to extend survey of possible sites for Aegis Ashore deployment

NHK reported online that the Ministry of Defense has decided to extend its ongoing survey of possible sites for deploying the Aegis Ashore missile defense system in the Tohoku region by about a month beyond the end of May due to delays caused by the new coronavirus outbreak. The network said that the ministry is conducting surveys at 20 locations in the region.

•  Asia allies need to adapt to US Navy’s nimbler, unmanned future – Japan, South Korea and Australia must review their weapons and operations –   (Nikkei Asian Review)

•  Japan plans to improve “self-sufficiency ratio” of cybersecurity experts   (Yomiuri)

•  Japan enacts law to regulate digital platform operators   (Jiji Press)


•  Prime minister’s schedule on May 27, 2020   (Sankei)

•  Koike to announce candidacy in June for Tokyo governor poll   (Kyodo News)

•  LDP to set up project team on post-COVID lifestyles and work styles   (Nikkei)

•  Japan enacts high-tech “Super City” bill   (Jiji Press)


•  Thin material converts skin’s excess body heat into electricity   (The Asahi Shimbun)


Base-hosting prefectures call on GOJ to coordinate with U.S. to allow soil, water surveys at bases

Okinawa Times and Ryukyu Shimpo wrote that in response to the incident in which foam extinguisher containing hazardous chemicals leaked at MCAS Futenma on April 10, the governors of the 15 prefectures that host U.S. military bases and facilities sent to the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense on Wednesday a letter requesting them to coordinate with the U.S. side to allow prefectural governments to fully survey the soil and water on the bases. According to the papers, the governors also called on the ministries to urge the U.S. side to disclose information about coronavirus infections on U.S. bases.

•  Chatan assembly adopts resolution against robbery allegedly involving SOFA personnel   (Okinawa Times, Ryukyu Shimpo)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team