Afternoon Alert   -   Friday, July 10, 2020
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Noon news

NHK and all commercial networks led with reports on the forecast for heavy rain in Kyushu and other parts of western Japan today and tomorrow and the continued search, rescue, and recovery efforts in the areas hit hard by floods and landslides. The broadcasters reported that 66 people have died and 16 remain missing due to the disaster.


Deputy Secretary Biegun holds talks with Foreign Minister Motegi

NHK reported in its noon news that Deputy Secretary of State Biegun held talks with Foreign Minister Motegi in Tokyo this morning. The network said that Motegi told the Deputy Secretary that under the robust Japan-U.S. alliance, Japan hopes to work together with the United States on common challenges to regional and international issues, including the situation in North Korea, and to further deepen their alliance. The broadcaster quoted Deputy Secretary Biegun as telling Motegi in reply that the United States and Japan have brought peace, security, and prosperity to Asia for more than a half century as close partners and that the United States hopes to cooperate further with Japan in dealing with new challenges.

The network said Deputy Secretary Biegun added that President Trump is looking forward to welcoming Prime Minister Abe to the G7 summit he will host at the end of August.

Kim Jong Un’s sister comments on denuclearization

NHK reported online on a statement released this morning by Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister of DPRK strongman Kim Jong Un, in which she suggested that North Korea may choose to denuclearize if the United States takes corresponding measures. "We are not saying we aren't going to denuclearize," she said. "But we cannot denuclearize now." On speculation that there may be another summit between her brother and President Trump ahead of the U.S. presidential election in the fall, Kim Yo Jong reportedly underscored that such a meeting would "not be useful to us" unless the U.S. were to change its approach to the stalled nuclear talks. "This is my personal opinion, but a summit between the U.S. and North Korea will not take place this year," she added. Quoting Kim Yo Jong as separately stressing that the relationship between President Trump and Kim Jong Un remains strong, the broadcaster interpreted this contradictory message as meaning that the Kim regime is still interested in holding talks with the Trump administration if the U.S. makes concessions.

Japan lodges protest against China’s marine research within Japan’s EEZ in Pacific

Nikkei took up the disclosure by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga this morning that according to the Japan Coast Guard, a Chinese marine research vessel was apparently conducting a survey by dropping what appeared to be a wire into the water in Japan’s EEZ off its southernmost island of Okinotorishima on Thursday without obtaining Japanese permission. The government spokesman was quoted as saying Japan "has filed a protest through a diplomatic channel, demanding an immediate halt” to the operation.

Japan to discuss travel ban easing with China, S. Korea, others (Kyodo News)

U.S. sanctions top officials in China’s Uygur region (NHK WORLD)

In sizing up candidates for WTO chief, Japan looks at whether they will keep appropriate distance with China (Sankei)

German envoy praises Japan’s coronavirus measures (Yomiuri)

Editorial: U.S. withdrawal from WHO only hampers measures against coronavirus (The Japan News)

Cartoon: A black cloud comin’ down on Hong Kong? (Kanagawa Shimbun)


U.S. approves sale of F-35s to Japan

Jiji Press reported that the U.S. Department of State on Thursday approved the sale of 105 F-35 stealth fighter jets to Japan and notified Congress, saying that the deal is estimated to be worth about $23.1 billion dollars, or some 2.48 trillion yen. The wire service said that this will be the second largest sale of military equipment by the United States since the country approved the sale of 84 F-15 fighters, missiles, and other equipment to Saudi Arabia for $29.4 billion in 2010. The deal with Japan includes the sale of 63 F-35As and 42 F-35Bs.

Sankei, Nikkei, and Mainichi filed similar reports, adding that the USG said in a statement: “It is vital to U.S. national interest to assist Japan in developing and maintaining a strong and effective self-defense capability. This proposed sale will support the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the United States by improving the security of a major ally that is a force for political stability and economic progress in the Asia-Pacific region.”

NHK also reported on the issue, saying that an unnamed State Department official told the network that the deal will help to improve Japan's defense capability and support the U.S. economy and employment.

Pepper spray used in training Japanese security guards at Yokosuka base

Asahi reported that it has learned from Japanese employees at Yokosuka Naval Base that pepper spray has been sprayed at Japanese security guards from a distance of 90 centimeters during training. They are reportedly required to take part in pepper spray qualification training in order to learn about its effects as part of their law enforcement certification. Some Japanese security guards are reportedly concerned about the potential adverse health effects of the training, which has been implemented on and off since around 2005. The paper quoted one of them as saying: “There are security guards who have underlying health problems…. This is power harassment.” According to the daily, a Japanese security guard was rushed to the hospital because he was hyperventilating after training in September 2005. An unnamed base spokesperson explained that the training is necessary to obtain law enforcement certification, adding: “Japanese security guards need to undergo the same training as American security guards. The training will continue.”

No progress can be expected in denuclearization talks with DPRK: Bolton (Sankei)

U.S. decides to sell 105 fighters to Japan at 2.48 trillion yen (NHK)

Gov’t to explain cancellation to residents at Aegis deployment site about: Kono (Nikkei)

Editorial: Fourfold increase in host nation support is not a reasonable request (Tokyo Shimbun)

Japan should re-examine model and deployment site of Aegis Ashore: expert (Yomiuri)

Cash and politics may stymie any push for strike capabilities in Japan (The Japan Times)

Top court nixes demand seeking flight suspensions near U.S. base (Kyodo News)

Ex-SoftBank employee found guilty of passing secret info to Russia (Kyodo News)


Tokyo’s daily coronavirus infections hit new record of 243 (Kyodo News)

Infographic: Trends in new coronavirus cases in Tokyo, Chiba, Saitama, and Kanagawa (Tokyo Shimbun)

Infographic: Breakdown of new coronavirus cases in Tokyo on July 9, 2020 (Tokyo Shimbun)

Infographic: 21,480 persons in Japan confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 (July 9, 2020) (NHK digital)


Japan to basically end aid for coal-fired power plant exports (Jiji Press)

Japan seeks massive jump in offshore wind power over 10 years (Nikkei Asian Review)

Ministry suggests ways to end maglev train dispute (NHK WORLD)

Japan to promote exports of digital technologies (NHK WORLD)

BOJ further cuts assessments of all regional economies amid pandemic (Kyodo News)

Japan core machinery orders up 1.7 pct in May (Jiji Press)


Prime minister’s schedule on July 9, 2020 (Sankei)

Gov’t in process of identifying points of debate for possible revisions to special coronavirus measures law: Nishimura (Tokyo Shimbun)

LDP’s Ishiba makes pointed remark about party’s request that gov’t cancel Xi’s state visit (Nikkei)

Editorial: Tokyo’s gubernatorial race holds lessons for the nation (The Japan Times)

Editorial: It’s Abe’s duty to get to bottom of Kawais vote-buying scandal (The Asahi Shimbun)


Japanese astronauts may travel to moon in latter half of 2020s

NHK and all national dailies reported on a videoconference held this morning between Education Minister Hagiuda and NASA Administrator Bridenstine at which they digitally signed a joint document on drawing up a concrete action plan for Japan’s participation in NASA’s Artemis lunar exploration program. The envisaged plan will reportedly address such matters as the number of moon-bound Japanese astronauts, the joint development of lunar rovers, and the delivery of supplies to Gateway spacecraft by Japanese unmanned cargo vessels. The news outlets projected that Japanese astronauts may stay in the lunar Gateway or land on the moon as early as the latter half of the 2020s. Administrator Bridenstine was quoted as saying in the conference: “Japan is a wonderful partner in space exploration. A new show called lunar exploration is about to begin.” In reply, the Japanese minister said: “We expect that mutual cooperation in space will deepen further.”

Interview with Interstellar Technologies CEO Takahiro Inagawa (NIKKEI Business Daily)

Japan and Western drugmakers launch $1bn fund against superbugs (Nikkei Asian Review)

Fujitsu bridges gap to computing future with quantum-inspired tech (Nikkei Asian Review)

Japan’s seismologists and policymakers at odds over quake science (The Japan Times)


Marines require new arrivals to shelter in place at Chatan hotel

Okinawa Times gave top play to a report saying that the municipal government of Chatan announced on Thursday that the Marines are having personnel newly arrived in Okinawa shelter at a hotel in Chatan as a measure to prevent COVID-19 infection on bases. The paper wrote that on July 2 Chatan Mayor Noguni lodged a protest with the Defense Ministry’s Okinawa Bureau expressing concern that having U.S. military personnel shelter in a private off-base facility will give rise to anxiety about the spread of the virus in the local community. The paper wrote that according to an informed source, the U.S. side explained that it is difficult to have all incoming personnel shelter on base due to space limitations. The paper also wrote that although the municipal government has asked the Okinawa defense bureau and the MOFA office in Okinawa to provide information about the number of personnel and the duration of this arrangement, it had not yet received an answer as of Thursday. According to the municipal government, the prefectural government informed it on June 30 that the U.S. Marines were planning to use a hotel in Chatan. The Okinawa defense bureau and the MOFA Okinawa office told the mayor on July 2 that the personnel are sheltering in place in their hotel rooms and not going out in principle and that measures to prevent hotel workers from coming into direct contact with them have been implemented. The paper wrote that although the U.S. military has explained that it is requiring personnel arriving in Okinawa to shelter in place for 14 days, the base-hosting communities are growing increasingly concerned.

Multiple COVID-19 cases confirmed at Camp Hansen (Okinawa Times, Ryukyu Shimpo)

Okinawa municipalities protest delay in sharing information on Kadena fire (Okinawa Times)

Camp Hansen conducted English classes on July 7 (Ryukyu Shimpo)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team