Afternoon Alert   -   Wednesday, August 19, 2020
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Noon news

NHK gave top coverage to a report that former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was officially nominated as the Democratic Party's presidential candidate on Tuesday. NTV, TBS, and Fuji TV led with reports on the extreme heat across Japan today, calling for caution against heatstroke. TV Asahi gave top play to a report that teenage shogi player Sota Fujii will compete for one of the eight major titles of shogi beginning today. If he wins, he will become the youngest holder of two major titles and be promoted to the rank of eighth dan.


Swedish diplomats withdrawn from North Korea due to coronavirus measures

NHK reported that according to Reuters, Sweden disclosed that it had withdrawn its diplomats in Pyongyang from North Korea by Aug. 19 as it had become difficult to conduct diplomatic activities there due to the strict coronavirus measures imposed by the North. The network said the Swedish Foreign Ministry has stressed that this is a temporary measure and that local staff are conducting necessary operations. The network added that the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang also represents the interests of the U.S. and Australia, which have no diplomatic relations with North Korea. British and German diplomats have also reportedly been withdrawn from North Korea for the same reason. While noting that North Korea has been insisting that it has zero COVID-19 cases, the network said the strict anti-coronavirus measures are apparently affecting its economy.

China will next target Taiwan with security law: Taiwan’s top envoy to Japan (Sankei)

Commentary: Tokyo wonders who Kamala Harris is (The Japan Times)

GSOMIA no longer leverage in Japan-S. Korea row (Jiji Press)

Editorial: China should dispel intl community’s concerns about its overseas loans (The Japan News)

Editorial: In Hong Kong, China does a Tiananmen Massacre without tanks (Japan Forward)

Japanese man detained in Belarus amid post-election protests (Kyodo News)

U.S.-China conflict: Will Japan take sides? (Sentaku)


Roundup of newspaper articles on capability to attack enemy bases (Sankei)

Interview: Ex-Japan official cautious about enemy base attack capability (Jiji Press)

US and Japan plan fleet of low-orbit satellites to track missiles (Nikkei Asian Review)

Cyberattacks: Increase in attacks on Japan via Holland (Nikkei)


Abe returns to work, pledges to “work hard”

All networks reported that Prime Minister Abe returned to work this afternoon after a three-day summer vacation, during which he spent seven and a half hours at a Tokyo hospital undergoing a medical checkup. When asked by reporters about his health condition, the premier responded: "I had a checkup the day before yesterday to take proper care of my health. I am returning to work now and I will work hard."

Prime minister’s schedule on August 18, 2020 (Sankei)

The truth behind Prime Minister Abe’s seven-and-a-half-hour hospital stay (Shukan Shincho digital)

Interview: Defense Minister Kono aims to be prime minister (Shukan Bunshun)

Reference to “facing history” disappears from PM Abe’s address at National Memorial Ceremony for War Dead (Tokyo Shimbun digital)


Definition of “seriously ill patients” differs among prefectures

Fuji TV reported on the finding that while some local municipalities follow the standards set by the central government when defining COVID-19 patients as "seriously ill," others do not follow the GOJ-set standards. According to the network, the MHLW is calling on municipalities to count COVID-19 patients who are being treated in the ICU, are on ventilators, or are on ECMO machines as "seriously ill" patients. However, the broadcaster learned on Tuesday that prefectures such as Tokyo, Ibaraki, Kyoto, and Fukuoka are not counting ICU patients who are not on ventilators or ECMO machines as seriously ill patients. The network added that Tokyo and Ibaraki prefectures explained that they are not following the GOJ standards because patients with minor symptoms are sometimes treated in the ICU.

Epidemiologist says Japan in middle of second wave

NHK reported at noon that a meeting of the Japanese Association for Infectious Diseases began in Tokyo today, saying that President Tateda expressed the view that "Japan is currently right in the middle of the second wave" of COVID-19 infections. "If you look at Tokyo and the nation as a whole, it seems like the number of new cases has peaked, but we need to pay attention to whether the numbers go up again," he said. "We should anticipate third and fourth waves in the future. We need to deal with the novel coronavirus by adopting a new lifestyle. The association will collect the latest findings in order to reduce the number of seriously ill patients as much as possible and protect medical facilities from being thrown into confusion." The network said the meeting, which is being held both online and in person with a total of 3,000 participants, will continue until Aug. 21.

Fukuoka forbids cruise ships until vaccine or cure (NHK WORLD)

Paperwork for virus subsidy shifted to new firm after flap (The Asahi Shimbun)

Editorial: Japan needs better system to tackle coronavirus as economy plunges (The Mainichi)

In an era of social distancing, the emperor might need social media – Pandemic forces Emperor Naruhito to stay home, but there is an alternative to public appearances – (The Japan Times)

Infographic: New coronavirus cases and positive test rate in Tokyo (Aug. 18, 2020) (Tokyo Shimbun)

Infographic: 58,489 persons in Japan confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 (Aug. 18, 2020) (NHK digital)


Japanese government to help local authorities secure technical staff (The Japan News)

Japan women hold 8% of manager jobs, far from 2020 goal of 30% – Equal opportunity in the workplace remains illusory despite government pledge – (Nikkei Asian Review)

Commentary: A vision for growth, 75 years on (The Japan Times)

Editorial: Lessons of war Japan should pass on to next generation (Nikkei Asian Review)


Base-hosting prefectures ask GOJ to urge U.S. military to promptly provide COVID-19 information

Okinawa Times and Ryukyu Shimpo wrote that a group of governors of 15 prefectures hosting U.S. military bases and related facilities sent a letter to the Foreign Affairs and Defense Ministries on Tuesday calling on them to urge the U.S. military to swiftly provide information about COVID-19 cases in the U.S. military community. The governors also said that the GOJ should urge the U.S. military to have its community members abide by its quarantine regulations.

Peace museum commemorating WWII kamikaze pilots partners with U.S. memorial museum (Okinawa Times)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team