Afternoon Alert   -   Tuesday, February 2, 2021
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Noon news

All broadcasters led with reports that the GOJ is expected to formally decide today to extend the state of emergency for 10 prefectures by one month to March 7 and lift it for Tochigi Prefecture. Prime Minister Suga is expected to hold a press conference and make the announcement this evening.


NBC: Former Chicago Mayor Emanuel might be tapped as U.S. envoy to Japan

Jiji Press reported this afternoon from Washington that NBC News reported that former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who served as White House chief of staff under President Obama, might be tapped as the next U.S. ambassador to Japan or China. According to sources, President Biden is considering giving Emanuel a high-profile ambassadorship, possibly Japan or China, and he is expected to make a final decision within a few weeks.

Secretary Blinken hints at possible additional sanctions on North Korea

NHK reported this afternoon that during an interview with NBC News that was aired on Monday, Secretary of State Blinken expressed the view that North Korea has advanced its nuclear and missile development programs despite the three summit meetings between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Trump and said that under instructions from President Biden, he is reviewing the U.S. policy on North Korea "across the board." The network said that when asked on what conditions the President would agree to hold a summit with the North Korean leader, Secretary Blinken did not give a concrete answer and said he is reviewing U.S. policy, including the possibility of further sanctions on the DPRK.

Concerning China's actions in Hong Kong, the Secretary reportedly called these egregious acts and added that the U.S. should also consider accepting people who flee from Hong Kong by saying: "If they’re the victims of repression from Chinese authorities, we should do something to give them haven."

ROK no longer refers to Japan as “partner” in white paper

Kyodo reported from Seoul on the 2020 Defense White Paper issued by the South Korean Defense Ministry on Tuesday, highlighting its description of Japan as a “neighbor.” The previous version released two years ago called Japan a “partner” with which it needed to cooperate. A ministry source reportedly attributed the apparent downgrading to Tokyo’s decision in 2019 to tighten export controls on Korea-bound strategic materials.

China’s new plan to boost electronic components sector puts Japan on guard against technology transfer (Asahi digital)

Myanmar poses early test for Biden’s ‘diplomacy with allies’ (Nikkei Asia)

Japan slow to join global chorus denouncing Myanmar coup (Nikkei Asia)

Japan calls for release of Myanmar leader Suu Kyi (Jiji Press)

Myanmar military’s reason for coup will not gain support (Yomiuri)

Japan calls for nonviolent resolution to Myanmar coup (The Asahi Shimbun)

Undertaking coup, Myanmar military may be assuming little global resistance (Asahi)

Medvedev says discussing Northern Territories with Japan impossible (Asahi)

Aso, Yellen vow to cooperate closely amid pandemic, discuss China (Kyodo News)

Japan-UK 2+2 videoconference to be held on Feb. 3 (Sankei)

Twin black coats symbolize Kim’s trust and rapid rise of Jo Yong Won (Asahi)


Cash-strapped North Korea believed to be stepping up cyberthefts (The Japan News)

China aims to undermine Japan’s effective control over Senkakus with new maritime law (Yomiuri)

MSDF deployment to the Middle East marks one year (Mainichi)


Editorial: Britain’s application for TPP membership is welcome boost for promotion of free trade (The Japan News)

UK formally applies for TPP: Are Thailand, South Korea and China next? (Nikkei Asia)

Japan Jan. new auto sales up for 4th month (Jiji Press)

The pitfall of long-term contracts for LNG (Nikkei)

METI and MOE to discuss decarbonization separately (Nikkei)


Prime minister’s schedule on Feb. 1, 2021 (Sankei)

Strength of in-house groups in House of Representatives (Yomiuri)

Edano vows election victory, but where will votes come from? (The Asahi Shimbun)

Japan main opposition facing urgent need to win popularity (Jiji Press)

Suga Cabinet has spent 500 million yen of Cabinet Secretariat classified fund (Yomiuri)

Akiba becomes second-longest serving foreign affairs vice-minister (Mainichi)

Cartoon: Who’s calling the shots? (Asahi)


Japan Lower House passes coronavirus bill (Jiji Press)

Japan asks EU for help over vaccine exports (NHK WORLD)

New coronavirus cases falling since Mid-Jan. in Japan (Jiji Press)

Glitches and design flaws limit value of Japan’s COVID-19 tracing app (The Japan Times)

Infographic: Status of gov’t indicators for COVID-19 in Tokyo (Feb. 1, 2021) (Tokyo Shimbun)

Infographic: 392,475 persons in Japan confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 (Feb. 1, 2021) (NHK digital)


Okinawa Marine given jail sentence for theft and assault of cab driver

Okinawa Times and Ryukyu Shimpo wrote that the Naha district court sentenced a 20-year-old U.S. Marine to three years in prison on Monday for “hijacking” a taxi in November last year. The defendant reportedly got in a taxi, threatened and assaulted the driver in order to steal cash from him, and drove away in the vehicle. The service member was indicted on multiple counts, including assault and theft. The presiding judge suspended the sentence for four years on the grounds that the incident was not premeditated because the defendant was intoxicated at the time.

Two U.S. servicemen, one civilian base worker arrested separately in Okinawa on Jan. 31 (Okinawa Times)

Benzene detected on grounds of Fukuoka Airport (Okinawa Times)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team