Afternoon Alert   -   Tuesday, August 4, 2020
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Noon news

NHK and NTV gave top play to reports on the situation in Kumamoto one month after the prefecture was hit by record rainfall that claimed 65 lives. TBS led with a report that the number of people at nightlife districts in Tokyo decreased on Monday night as Tokyo began requesting pubs and karaoke bars to shorten their operating hours and close at 10 p.m. Fuji TV gave top coverage to a report that the occupancy rate of hospital beds has reached 146.6% in Okinawa, saying that 211 COVID-19 patients have no choice but to stay home. The network said although Okinawa secured a hotel in Naha to accommodate COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms from today, there is a shortage of staff and medical practitioners to attend to such patients. TV Asahi led with the hot weather across Japan today.


Japan voices “grave concerns” about Hong Kong election postponement

Nikkei took up press remarks made by Foreign Minister Motegi today. He reportedly commented on the Hong Kong government’s decision to put off the Legislative Council elections by one year by saying: “We have grave concerns about the situation, including the postponement’s effect on the 'one country, two systems' principle.” He went on to say: “It's important to hold a free and fair election without delay in order to form a foundation for Hong Kong’s democratic development. We will be paying careful attention to the situation in close coordination with relevant nations.”

Nippon Steel to file appeal against seizure of assets in South Korea

Asahi reported online that Nippon Steel Corp. released a comment indicating its intent to file an appeal against a South Korean district court order that took effect at 12:00 a.m. today for the seizure of financial assets to use as compensation for former requisitioned workers. “We regard the matter as being 'resolved completely and finally’ in accordance with the 1965 Agreement on the Settlement of Problems concerning Property and Claims, which was a formal accord reached between the two states,” said the statement. “We will respond appropriately while taking into account diplomatic negotiations between the two governments. We plan to file an immediate appeal with regard to the order for asset seizure.”

In a related story, NHK took up remarks made to the press this morning by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga, who said: "The South Korean Supreme Court ruling on the case, as well as relevant legal procedures, constitute clear violations of international law. As we have been reiterating to the South Korea side that the liquidation of assets would trigger a serious situation, we will strongly press them to resolve the matter quickly." As for Japan's response, the government spokesperson said: "We will continue to respond resolutely while coordinating closely with the company involved from the standpoint of protecting the legitimate economic activities of Japanese enterprises. All options remain open."

Japan-South Korea labor row muddles U.S. plans on China (Nikkei Asian Review)

Former LDP Secretary-General Ishiba meets with Chinese envoy (Sankei)

AIIB at crossroads amid COVID-19 (Asahi)

China embarks on charm offensive toward Japanese companies (Nikkei Asian Review)

Commentary: How Tokyo sees Pompeo’s ‘Communist China’ speech (The Japan Times)

Japan to impose stricter re-entry procedures for travelers from four countries (The Japan Times)

Japan to offer express lane for funds leaving Hong Kong (Nikkei Asian Review)

Editorial: Election delay ‘due to virus’ could drain H.K. demoncracy of substance (The Japan News)

Commentary: Lee Teng-hui: An icon of Asian democracy (The Japan Times)

First Japan-affiliated aquarium to open in Taiwan (Jiji Press)


LDP to recommend possessing capabilities to intercept ballistic missiles inside an enemy’s territory

NHK reported at noon that the LDP approved today a set of recommendations put together by a review team on Japan's future missile defense system, which says the advanced missile capabilities of North Korea and China are increasingly becoming a threat and urged the GOJ to swiftly reach a conclusion on measures to improves its deterrence, including possessing the capability to intercept ballistic missiles even inside an enemy's territory within constitutional boundaries and based on the policy of exclusive defense. Meanwhile, the recommendation reportedly states that the GOJ should maintain its policy on the basic division of roles between Japan and the U.S. under the U.S.-Japan alliance and not possess aggressive weapons. In addition, it calls on the GOJ to swiftly present concrete alternatives to Aegis Ashore in order to strengthen Japan's air defense capacity and secure functionality to respond in a sustained manner. According to the network, the LDP is planning to submit the recommendations to the government this afternoon.

As HNS discussions start, Japan concerned about U.S. demand for payment increase (Mainichi)

Okinawa virus outbreaks ignite scrutiny of U.S. SOFA privileges (The Japan Times)

Alternatives to Aegis Ashore should be considered based on Japan-U.S. talks: Waseda prof. Nakabayashi (Nikkei)

North Korea wary of Japan’s acquiring attack capabilities: Tokyo International Univ. prof. Izumi (Nikkei)

Advantage of Aegis-radar option is land-based personnel can be deployed in shifts: Kanazawa Tech prof. Ito (Nikkei)

Why include Japanese civilian employees in training using pepper spray? (Kanagawa Shimbun East edition)


Bank of Japan may extend corporate support amid pandemic (The Japan News)

Exclusive: Japanese city to get OK for progressive tax on spent N-fuel (Jiji Press)

Japan, Britain expected to agree digital trade rules (Jiji Press)

We will proceed with high-efficiency coal-fired power plants,” electric power federation chief (Sankei)

Electric power federation chief wary about opening power lines to renewable energy (Nikkei)

Japan Apirl-June GDP seen sown 27 pct (Jiji Press)

Japan new auto sales down 13.7 pct in July (Jiji Press)


GOJ not planning to ask people to avoid visiting hometowns this summer

NHK took up press remarks by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga earlier in the day. He suggested that the GOJ will not ask people to avoid visiting their hometowns during the upcoming Obon holidays: “We don’t think such trips need to be avoided. Instead we want people to follow proper prevention protocols, such as avoiding the 'Three Cs,' wearing masks, and washing their hands.” The government spokesperson stressed that it is necessary to strike a balance between infection control and economic reconstruction, adding that the GOJ will seek advice from the coronavirus taskforce advisory subcommittee on the matter later this week.

Infographic: New coronavirus cases and positive test rate in Tokyo (Aug. 3, 2020) (Tokyo Shimbun)

Infographic: 40,929 persons in Japan confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 (Aug. 3, 2020) (NHK digital)


Prime minister’s schedule on Aug. 3, 2020 (Sankei)

Ministry of Defense personnel transfers (Asahi)

Japan govt urged to actively release pandemic information (Jiji Press)

Focus: Abe reluctant to heed calls for coronavirus law revisions (Jiji Press)

Editorial: Japan PM Abe should call extra Diet session immediately amid virus resurgence (The Mainichi)

LDP lawmakers seek swift revision of virus law (Jiji Press)

Editorial: Government’s fiscal reform target needs a reality check (The Asahi Shimbun)

Japan to update English translations of business laws by FY2022 (Nikkei Asian Review)

Cartoon: Can you find Abe? (Tokyo Shimbun)

Interview: Japan may add punishments to virus response measures (Jiji Press)


More than 70% of American young people think nuclear weapons are unnecessary

NHK reported that its Hiroshima bureau conducted an online survey of people aged 18 to 34 in Hiroshima, all prefectures other than Hiroshima, and the United States as this year marks the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings. The survey targeted 1,000 individuals from each group. According to the network, about 85% of the Japanese respondents, both in Hiroshima and other prefectures, and more than 70% of the Americans said nuclear weapons are unnecessary. The reason cited by most of them was that the weapons can "kill and injure many people." The second most frequently cited reason was that nuclear weapons are "too destructive." When asked about the U.S. atomic bombings 75 years ago, 41.6% of Americans said they were unforgivable, while 31.3% said they were necessary. The network said although the results cannot be simply compared because of the survey methods were different, a survey conducted by Pew Research Center five years ago found that 47% of Americans aged 18 to 29 thought the atomic bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were justified.

Meiji Gakuin University Professor Takahara reportedly said: "People in the United States have long subscribed to the myth that the atomic bombings helped end the war, and this is still accepted today. However, as a result of education, that notion has been gradually changing mainly among the young generation in the U.S. over the last ten years." When asked whether they want to learn more about the nuclear bombings, 76.5% of people in Hiroshima, 68.7% of people in other prefectures, and 80.5% of Americans said yes. When asked whether they have ever heard the accounts of hibakusha, 75.4% of people in Hiroshima, 47% of people in other prefectures, and 34.8% of Americans said they have. More than half of Americans who said they have heard the accounts of hibakusha said they had heard them on the Internet. Meanwhile, the network said more than 60% of Americans who said they had never heard accounts by hibakusha said they wanted to hear them, adding that the young generation in the U.S. is more interested in the atomic bombings than the young generation in Japan.

Trend in six-poll average cabinet support rate and cabinet support rate in text messaging poll, Saitama University Social Survey Research Center (Saitama University Social Survey Research Center digital)


Virgin Orbit selects Oita Airport to be Asia’s first space port (NIKKEI Business Daily)

Lunar exploration prompts creation of rules on space resources (Nikkei)


Students have difficulty finding jobs after their study abroad is cut short by coronavirus (NIKKEI Business Daily)


Funds run low among 20,000 foreign trainees stuck in Japan (The Asahi Shimbun)

Museums in Japan collect daily items to log pandemic history (Kyodo News)

Same venues, schedule for postponed Paralympics (NHK WORLD)

A rare peek into wartime tunnel network under Shuri-jo castle (The Asahi Shimbun)

Japan life expectancy hits record high for both men, women (Jiji Press)


Okinawa dissatisfied with quarantine measures on U.S. bases

According to Okinawa Times, the Okinawa prefectural government is not satisfied with the COVID-19 infection control measures taken by the U.S. military, noting that Governor Tamaki is calling for a thorough revision of the SOFA so that Japan can have a say in the quarantining of service members arriving in Japan. Article 9 of the statute governing the status of U.S. troops exempts them from Japanese quarantine at ports of entry. While pointing out that in response to pressure from Okinawa, the U.S. agreed to conduct COVID-19 testing on all personnel arriving at U.S. installations directly from overseas, the daily said the central government is reluctant to pursue SOFA revision.

First case of coronavirus in Maritime Self-Defense Force in Okinawa (Okinawa Times)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team