Afternoon Alert   -   Wednesday, July 29, 2020
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Noon news

All networks gave top play to reports that torrential rains have caused the Mogami River in Yamagata Prefecture to burst its banks at four different locations and 3,000 residents have been ordered to evacuate.


Foreign minister Motegi to visit U.K. from August 5 to negotiate trade deal (Mainichi)

Statues with Abe kneeling before ‘comfort woman’ set off new storm (The Asahi Shimbun)

Commentary: Japan’s China engagement conundrum (The Japan Times)

Western nations see Japan’s reentry restrictions for permanent residents as problematic (Nikkei)

Chile picks Japan’s trans-Pacific cable route in snub to China (Nikkei Asian Review)

Cartoon: In double act with Xi, Abe’s the stooge (Tokyo Shimbun)


LDP team’s revised proposal urges gov’t to consider attack capability (Nikkei)

Two people affiliated with Yokota Air Base infected with coronavirus (Mainichi)

METI to require small, renewable energy utilities to plan against cyberattacks (Nikkei)

China strengthens its claim of sovereignty over Senkakus (Yomiuri)

Interest in deploying Tomahawk cruise missiles emerges in gov’t, LDP (Sankei)

Be flexible with “shield and spear”: former Ambassador to U.S. Sasae (Asahi)

Sense of crisis over S. China Sea led to China’s 100-day presence near Senkakus: expert (Nikkei)

China’s 100-day Senkaku push may be intended to see U.S.’s response: expert (Nikkei)

Bioterrorism a concern at Tokyo Olympics (The Japan News)

Genome-editing technology suggests military nightmares for Japan and U.S. (The Japan News)


Nuclear Regulation Authority gives green light to reprocessing plant in Rokkasho, Aomori

All networks reported that the spent fuel reprocessing plant in Rokkasho, Aomori, has cleared the safety standards introduced following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis. NHK said although this marks a turning point for the facility that is said to be the cornerstone of the government's nuclear recycling policy, there are challenges ahead for resuming the operation of the plant as the plan for using extracted plutonium remains unclear and the overall project cost has swelled to about 14 trillion yen. The network said obtaining understanding from the local municipality for the plant's operation is also a challenge.

Opinion: COVID-19’s staggering economic impact forces deep macro policy rethink (Nikkei Asian Review)

Japanese ruling party pushes for limits on TikTok (Nikkei Asian Review)

Japanese automakers eye e-fuel as alternative to EVs (The Japan Times)


Suga says 550 COVID-19 clusters confirmed nationwide

Yomiuri reported online that Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga told the press this morning that a total of 550 COVID-19 clusters had been confirmed nationwide as of July 28. Suga reportedly said: "It is important to detect clusters at an early stage and contain them to prevent the spread of the virus." Suga also reportedly explained that an MHLW team of experts had been deployed 77 times to a total of 32 prefectures.

GOJ mulls categorizing regional infection situation in three stages

NTV reported at noon that according to a source, the GOJ is considering categorizing the COVID-19 infection situation of each region in three stages so that governors will be able to use these as benchmarks for taking such measures as requesting temporary business closures. The network said the GOJ will look at the number of hospitalized patients aged 60 or older, the number of seriously ill patients, and the occupancy rate of hospital beds in each region. According to the network, Level 1 will represent a situation where cases are increasing, Level 2 will represent a situation where multiple cluster infections are undermining the medical system, and Level 3 will represent a situation where a state of emergency needs to be declared. The network said this system will be proposed by experts and discussed at a meeting of the GOJ coronavirus taskforce advisory subcommittee slated for this Friday.

Japan’s first major study on coronavirus antibodies to begin

TV Asahi reported that Yokohama City University will conduct a major study on people who have recovered from COVID-19 in order to determine the duration of the effectiveness of their antibodies. The network said freelance announcer Tamao Akae, who tested positive in April, will participate in the survey. The network said the university is hoping to test 300 to 400 people aged 20 years old or older right after they recover from COVID-19, about six months later, and again a year later to see whether they have neutralizing antibodies and how long the antibodies remain effective. The network said this will be the first major Japanese study on antibodies in people who have had the virus.

Saitama expands scope of PCR testing to head off cluster infections

Yomiuri reported online that starting today the Saitama prefectural government has expanded the scope of its PCR virus testing to cover not only those who have been in close contact with COVID-19 carriers but everyone who was in the same location as an infected person even if they have no symptoms. Such locations will include hospitals, nursing homes, childcare facilities, schools, fitness clubs, nightclubs, and karaoke establishments. For instance, all students and teachers who have been on the same floor or in the same classroom as a virus carrier will be tested. Saitama Governor Ono said the aggressive testing is intended to head off cluster infections.

Editorial: Use diversification of work styles to decentralize Japan’s population (The Japan News)

Editorial: Post-disaster relief work needs new strategies in age of COVID-19 (The Asahi Shimbun)

Infographic: New coronavirus cases and positive test rate in Tokyo (July 28, 2020) (Tokyo Shimbun)

Infographic: 32,957 persons in Japan confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 (July 28, 2020) (NHK digital)


Prime minister’s schedule on July 28, 2020 (Sankei)

Japan aims to strengthen teams to win international economic disputes (The Japan News)

Gov’t adds new members to group discussing vision for post-corona Japan (Asahi)


Results of the NHK opinion poll on 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games (NHK digital)


Commentary – The geopolitics of sports: Japan’s Summer Games on the world stage (The Japan Times)

Editorial: Light up the Tokyo Olympics torch; Let’s do it for the athletes (Japan Forward)

Editorial: Death of ALS patient may be major breach of medical ethics (The Asahi Shimbun)

Japan hopes to make smart city model global standard (The Japan News)


Commentary: The shape of post-pandemic university education (The Japan Times)


MOD dismisses report of possible deployment of new Marine unit in Okinawa

Ryukyu Shimpo took up a press conference on Tuesday by a Defense Ministry spokesman during which he dismissed remarks allegedly made by a top U.S. military official regarding a plan to deploy a Marine Littoral Regiment (MLR) in Okinawa. Commandant Berger was reported to have told a Japanese media outlet earlier this month that discussions have already begun with the Japanese side on the deployment of a regiment equipped with anti-ship missiles in the southernmost prefecture by 2027. The ministry spokesman was quoted as saying: “It is not true that we have been presented with such a proposal…. As the top Marine, Gen. Berger talked about a future vision. The U.S. government has not yet made an official decision.”

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team