Afternoon Alert   -   Wednesday, January 13, 2021
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Noon news

All networks led with reports that the GOJ is expected to issue a state of emergency for seven additional prefectures today. TBS said Prime Minister Suga is likely to make the announcement at a press conference at around 7 p.m.


Suga under fire for not issuing message over attack on Capitol

Kyodo News reported that during a meeting of the LDP's Foreign Affairs Division today, many said Prime Minister Suga should have issued a clear message concerning Trump supporters' storming of the Capitol. The members reportedly said a message should come from the top, citing many European leaders who criticized the attack on social media. Kyodo added that although MOFA is of the view that Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato made remarks on the incident at a press briefing on behalf of the Japanese government, many participants expressed displeasure, with some asserting that MOFA should have prepared a statement.

The reasons the Trump administration declassified China policy document at the last minute (Asahi)

Japan cautious about taking Seoul to ICJ over comfort women (Jiji Press)

New Japanese Ambassador to U.S. Tomita is a scholar with connections to Biden administration (Nikkei)

The art of the Japan handlers: the Armitage-Nye report (Kanagawa Shimbun)

Commentary: There are only bad options for dealing with North Korea (The Japan Times)

Commentary: How Japan can lead a free and open Indo-Pacific (The Japan Times)

Editorial: Mass arrests in Hong Kong crush pro-democracy activists (The Japan News)

Why Tokyo trod lightly in way it chided China over Tiananmen (The Asahi Shimbun)

Japan, Chile to expand cooperation in communications (Jiji Press)


Japanese government to consider participation in U.S. satellite constellation system (Mainichi)


East Asian executives expect better US-China ties under Biden, joint newspaper poll of executives in China, Japan, and South Korea (Nikkei Asia)

To decide Fukushima water disposal at “appropriate time”: Suga (Jiji Press)

Former Softbank employee alleged to have leaked 5G data to Rakuten (The Asahi Shimbun)

KDDI to offer cheapest large data mobile plan amid gov’t pressure (Kyodo News)

Japan scrambles to avoid blackout as cold wave grips East Asia (Nikkei Asia)

Japan FSA opens office for one-stop services in English (Jiji Press)

Expanded emergency to shrink Japan’s GDP by 2.1 tril. yen: estimate (Kyodo News)


Prime minister’s schedule on Jan. 12, 2021 (Sankei)

Governors to be allowed to take steps without emergency (Jiji Press)

FOCUS: “Sontaku” for Nikai seen behind Japan coronavirus policy delays (Jiji Press)


Nonsupport for Suga Cabinet exceeds support for first time, NHK public opinion poll (NHK digital)

77% want Tokyo Games canceled or postponed, NHK public opinion poll (NHK WORLD)

Political party support rates, NHK public opinion poll (NHK digital)

China is seen as threat more than DPRK, 2020 Nikkei mail-in survey (Nikkei)

Asahi Shimbun mail-in opinion poll & results – Views on nuclear power (Asahi)


Japan, U.S. launch plan to build lunar orbiting outpost (Kyodo News)


Nishimura expresses negative view on expanding state of emergency nationwide

NHK reported at noon that Economic Revitalization Minister Nishimura expressed a negative view about expanding the current state of emergency nationwide. He reportedly said that the law calls for minimizing the curtailment of private rights, so "we must be careful when considering the addition of Tohoku and other regions where the number of cases is small." He also reportedly said that a request from the governor is not a prerequisite for issuing a state of emergency.

GOJ hoping to revise laws to combat COVID-19 more effectively

All national papers reported that the GOJ presented to the ruling coalition yesterday the legal provisions that it is hoping to add to the special measures act that governs public authorities’ response to the novel coronavirus. One of the provisions calls for the establishment of “precautionary measures” that the prime minister would be able to implement to head off extensive outbreaks. Prefectural governors would be authorized to “order” local shop owners to close or shorten their operating hours even ahead of the issuance of a state of emergency. The GOJ reportedly envisages that those who refuse to comply with orders could be fined up to 500,000 yen. The GOJ is also reportedly considering amending a separate statute that classifies COVID-19 as a "designated infectious disease." Since the current classification is only valid for up to two years, the GOJ is aiming to revise the Infectious Disease Prevention Law to add a new category called “infectious diseases such as new types of influenza," which would include the novel coronavirus, so a broad range of infection prevention measures can continue to be taken next year and beyond.

As coronavirus mutates, countries scramble to put up defenses (Nikkei Asia)

Pref. governors seen allowed to recommend hospitalization (Jiji Press)

Cartoon: Suga gets underway (Kanagawa Shimbun)

Japan laboratory to develop anti-COVID-19 drug with S. Korean firm (NIKKEI Business Daily)

Osaka expo plans quietly move forward despite cost and virus worries (The Japan Times)

Infographic: Status of gov’t indicators for COVID-19 in Tokyo (Jan. 12, 2021) (Tokyo Shimbun)

Infographic: 298,884 persons in Japan confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 (Jan. 12, 2021) (NHK digital)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team