Afternoon Alert   -   Tuesday, June 30, 2020
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Noon news

Most networks led with reports on the heavy rain in Kochi, Kagoshima, and Miyazaki prefectures this morning. NTV gave top play to a report that according to several Hong Kong media outlets, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress unanimously adopted this morning a national security law aimed at cracking down on anti-government activities in Hong Kong. 


EU to reopen border to travelers from 14 nations including Japan

Kyodo reported on the EU's announcement on Monday that starting on July 1, travelers from 14 countries, including Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand, will be allowed to enter its member states on the grounds that the coronavirus outbreak has largely been brought under control there. The 14 nations have reportedly been put on the EU's “safe list.”

U.S. supports Japan’s objection to ROK demand for launch of WTO panel

Yomiuri reported online on a WTO meeting held in Geneva on Monday, at which Japan strongly opposed South Korea’s call for the establishment of a conflict resolution panel aimed at discussing its complaint about Japan’s tightened controls on Korea-bound semiconductor materials on the grounds that the step was taken to prevent such products from being converted to military use. According to the article, a U.S. representative supported Japan’s objection by saying that the matter should not be settled by the world trade watchdog if Japan’s measure was implemented for national security reasons. While no conclusion has been reached on Seoul’s proposal yet, the paper said WTO rules stipulate that such a panel will be launched automatically at the next round of talks unless there is unanimous opposition by all member states and regions. Trade Minister Kajiyama reportedly urged the ROK government to suspend the WTO proceeding by telling the press this morning: “We will be strongly calling on South Korea to return to the negotiating table.”

Suga expresses regret over China’s passage of national security law for Hong Kong

All networks covered reports by multiple Hong Kong media outlets that the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress unanimously adopted this morning a national security law aimed at cracking down on anti-government activities in Hong Kong, saying that there is growing concern that the law will strengthen the Chinese government's control in Hong Kong and undermine the "one nation, two systems" principle. The law is expected to go into effect on July 1 at 12 a.m. local time. Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga reportedly told the press this morning that "it is regrettable that the law was enacted despite strong concerns expressed by the international community and the people of Hong Kong." Suga reportedly criticized the move for undermining the international community's confidence in the '"one nation, two systems" principle and stressed that Japan will continue to work closely with relevant nations and deal with the matter appropriately. He also reportedly stressed that Japan continues to value Hong Kong for maintaining a free and open system under the "one nation, two systems" principle and developing in a democratic and stable manner.

•  U.S. expresses intent to work closely with Japan on security concerns   (Tokyo Shimbun)

•  Ex-ROK official: DPRK wants ROK to implement “Pyongyang declaration”   (Yomiuri)

•  Commentary – Washington, Seoul and Bolton’s bombshell memoir   (The Japan Times)

•  Commentary – Confrontational approach to China: emotionally satisfying, strategically shortsighted   (The Japan Times)

•  Japan worried about falling presence at int’l bodies   (Jiji Press)

•  Japan, Myanmar foreign ministers hold teleconference   (Yomiuri)

•  Editorial: Japan urged to support health care in developing countries amid pandemic   (The Japan News)

•  Cartoon: The shadow of Xi Jinping   (Tokyo Shimbun)


•  Editorial: Public, private sectors must work to establish Japan-made 5G network   (The Japan News)

•  NTT to join Japan’s renewable-energy sector with $9bn investment   (Nikkei Asian Review)

•  Commentary: The WTO and TPP amid the U.S.-China trade war   (The Japan Times)

•  Editorial: As Japan set to regulate IT giants, more transparency needed in digital society   (The Mainichi)

•  Japan carmakers’ May domestic output down by record 62% amid pandemic   (Kyodo News)


•  Japan team to start iPS clinical trials for neck cancer   (Jiji Press)


•  Prime minister’s schedule on June 29, 2020   (Sankei)

•  A week before Tokyo gubernatorial election, Koike takes commanding lead in polls   (The Japan Times)

•  Japanese Prosecutor-General Inada to step down   (Jiji Press)


•  Japan begins debate over strike capabilities   (Nikkei Asian Review)

•  Suprapartisan study group to present proposal next month on security   (Asahi)

•  Editorial: Kadena Air Base fire again stokes safety concerns among locals   (The Asahi Shimbun)

•  Editorial: Australia-India security pact should help realize U.S. and Japan’s ‘free seas’ vision   (Japan Forward)

•  Japan, U.S. should maintain post-coronavirus world order, Defense Minister Kono   (Kanagawa Shimbun)

•  Gov’t struggles to deter U.S.’s opposition to giving up Aegis Ashore plan   (Yomiuri)


Iwate governor explains why his prefecture has had zero COVID-19 cases

TBS's morning news program "Asa chan!" carried an interview with Takuya Tasso, the governor of Iwate--the only prefecture in Japan that has managed to have zero COVID-19 cases. The former diplomat explained that there is a prevailing view among the people of Iwate that they should not go to dangerous places and should only take action after considering various risks. In addition, he said the people of Iwate, who are sincere and careful by nature, were "trained" by the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011 and became more careful as a result. Another point he raised is the fact that the prefecture's Infection Control Assistance Team (ICAT), which was formed at the time of the Great East Japan Earthquake to prevent the spread of infectious diseases in shelters, has played a major role. He also said that the measure he imposed one week before the nationwide state of emergency was declared to not only restrict travel between Iwate and other prefectures but also to restrict the movement of visitors within Iwate proved to be effective. The governor also said when he was working at MOFA, he was given the opportunity to study for two years at Johns Hopkins University, where he learned about the crisis management tactics of the White House with a professor who was a former National Security Advisor to President Carter. He said he learned to "listen to the voices of the people and look at the situation with your own eyes before putting together policies." Finally, on the increasing number of cases in Tokyo, Tasso pointed out that there is no need to become overly cautious because the Tokyo government is aware of where cases are increasing.

Doubts emerge about GOJ’s call for reducing social interaction by 80%

Kyodo took up growing doubts raised by some scientists about the effectiveness of the GOJ’s call for people to reduce social contact by 80% to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The wire service highlighted the view of Dr. Nakano, of Osaka University and a member of a coronavirus advisory board established by Osaka Governor Yoshimura. According to the academic, a detailed analysis of data shows that the nation’s infection level peaked in late March, almost two weeks before the state of emergency was declared on April 7, and that the epidemiological curve would have flattened naturally even without the declaration, the 80% reduction in social interaction, or the extensive business closures. The article took up the view that Japan was able to rein in the outbreak in the early stages thanks to the strict ban on the entry of travelers from overseas that began in mid-March and the nation's quick adoption of such health protocols as hand washing and wearing masks. Even some members of the GOJ coronavirus taskforce subcommittee are now skeptical of the campaign to reduce social interaction by 80% that was proposed by Hokkaido University Professor Nishiura, underscoring the importance of conducting a thorough examination to see whether a reduction in social interaction to such a degree was necessary. The GOJ reportedly plans to launch a third-party blue-ribbon commission that will include a Nobel laureate to verify the accuracy of Professor Nishiura’s projection for the spread of the virus that formed the basis of his call for a drastic reduction in social interaction.

•  The next wave: Japan and Asian neighbors walk COVID ‘tightrope’   (Nikkei Asian Review)

•  Japanese coronavirus test for business travelers costs $370   (Nikkei Asian Review)

•  Japan’s 1st COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial to start Tues.   (Jiji Press)

•  Infographic: Trends in no. of coronavirus cases and positive test rate in Tokyo (June 29, 2020)   (Tokyo Shimbun)

•  Infographic: 19,343 persons in Japan confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 (June 29, 2020)   (NHK digital)

•  Coronavirus vaccine development race heating up   (Jiji Press)

•  U.S. military employee at Camp Zama tests positive for coronavirus   (Kanagawa Shimbun)


•  Japan Medical Association elects new president   (Jiji Press)

•  Asylum seekers face battle for survival in time of coronavirus   (Kyodo News)

•  Japan panel OKs punishment of foreigners refusing deportation   (Jiji Press)

•  Japan to forego process to pick World Heritage candidate   (Jiji Press)

•  Editorial: Online platforms need concrete solutions for fighting slander   (The Asahi Shimbun)

•  High court says Twitter need not delete tweets on arrest history   (Kyodo News)

•  Very few Rohingya in Japan granted refugee status   (Mainichi digital)


Okinawa takes issue with USG statement on Battle of Okinawa

Tuesday’s Ryukyu Shimpo and Okinawa Times highlighted local reaction to the White House message on the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Okinawa, highlighting criticism from local academics who took issue with the phrase "the legacy of that sacrifice includes our alliance with Japan." The scholars claimed that the Trump administration ignores the fact that the island prefecture has been forced to shoulder a disproportionate base-hosting burden. Ryukyu University Professor Emeritus Gabe asserted that the statement represented U.S. “arrogance” and “insensitivity.” Okinawa International University Professor Sato speculated that the message was an attempt to remind Japanese that the U.S. was responsible for Japan's success in building its postwar system. Sato said that by elaborating on how the bilateral alliance was forged, Washington perhaps intended to warn Tokyo against tilting toward Beijing amid the escalating friction between the U.S. and China. An unnamed scholar cited by Ryukyu Shimpo noted that the U.S. military has consistently taken the view that Okinawa owes its development to the sacrifices of veterans and that the President’s message reflected this belief.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team