Afternoon Alert   -   Thursday, February 4, 2021
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Noon news

Broadcasters led with reports on the start of deliberations at a Lower House Budget Committee session on the FY2021 draft budget (NHK, TV Asahi) and sexist remarks made by Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee President Yoshiro Mori (NTV, TBS, Fuji TV). During a televised news conference starting at 2:00 p.m., Mori apologized for making "inappropriate" remarks and retracted them because they run counter to the Olympic spirit. In response to a question from a reporter, Mori said he has no intention to resign.


Japan asks U.S. to extend the current level of host nation support (Yomiuri)

Pandemic gives DPRK “ideal environment for cyberattacks”: defector (Yomiuri)


Gist of “2-plus-2” talks between Japan, UK (Yomiuri)

Former Chicago mayor seen as candidate for U.S. envoy to Japan (Yomiuri)

Japan asked to demand Myanmar leaders’ release (NHK WORLD)

‘Biden’ brand of Japanese sake gets noticed in U.S. (The Japan News)

“We will convey Japan’s thoughts to the Myanmar military:” FM Motegi (Sankei)

Editorial: Coup in Myanmar defies will of the people, setback for democracy (Japan Forward)

The Nikkei View: Myanmar military’s coup is unacceptable (Nikkei Asia)

Kato mum on downgrade in S. Korea’s description of Japan (Jiji Press)

Sri Lanka changes port development plan with Japan, India (Jiji Press)

N. Korea designates Nov. 29 as holiday to commemorate ICBM launch (Kyodo News)

Editorial: Japan should support U.S.’s return to international cooperation (Tokyo Shimbun)


Commentary: Japan will be under pressure to make concessions in Japan-U.S. trade talks because of Trump’s legacy (Japan Agricultural News)

No intention of scaling back monetary easing: BOJ deputy chief (Jiji Press)

Review finds total Japanese overseas assets hit 10 trillion yen (The Asahi Shimbun)

Sumitomo completes exit from shale oil with sale of US assets (Nikkei Asia)

Editorial: The U.K.’s application to join TPP is an opportunity to spread freedom (Japan Forward)


Prime minister’s schedule on Feb. 3, 2021 (Sankei)

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

Editorial: Suga must accept criticism of virus response to win back public trust (The Asahi Shimbun)

Suga’s son may have illegally entertained ministry officials (Jiji Press)

More than four months into his term, Suga’s popularity ebbs as tough decisions await (The Japan Times)


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)


Japanese firms say ‘zero-carbon’ target achievable (NHK WORLD)


Rakuten Chairman Mikitani stresses importance of study abroad, donates $1 million to Fulbright program

TV Asahi reported online this morning that Hiroshi Mikitani, Chairman and CEO of Rakuten, Inc., stressed the importance of studying abroad at an online seminar organized by the U.S. Embassy Tokyo. He was quoted as saying: “You will learn from the experience of studying abroad that diversity is the source of innovation. It is necessary to connect the wisdom of the world to make this world a better place.” He also told the audience that he learned when he was studying in the United States that entrepreneurship is the source of the dynamism of the United States and that this experience led him to start a new business in Japan. Pointing out that international exchange is important to expand people’s perspectives, Mikitani disclosed that he is urging the Japanese government to establish a framework to assist Japanese students with studying abroad.

Mikitani revealed that he has personally donated 90 million yen ($1 million) to establish the Fulbright-Mikitani Memorial Grant in order to support future Japanese participants in the Fulbright program, in which he participated. For the next three years, the grant will annually help five to six Japanese students pursue their studies at U.S. educational institutions through the Fulbright program.

Yahoo!News Japan and the online news and blog site BLOGOS also posted the story on their sites. Mikitani posted a Editorial: Seek public understanding under revised laws without relying on penalties (The Japan News)

Editorial: Japan gov’t must convince public about why state of emergency extension needed (Mainichi)

Experts decry lack of new steps in extended state of emergency (The Asahi Shimbun)

Olympics: 1st COVID-19 playbook released for Tokyo Games’ participants (Kyodo News)

Japan’s COVID penalty law: five things to know (The Japan Times)

Cartoon: Watch where you aim (Asahi)

Infographic: Status of gov’t indicators for COVID-19 in Tokyo (Feb. 3, 2021) (Tokyo Shimbun)

Infographic: 397,428 persons in Japan confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 (Feb. 3, 2021) (NHK digital)


Court rejects Okinawa’s demand for GOJ to withdraw order to approve Henoko coral transplantation

Okinawa Times and Ryukyu Shimpo reported on their front pages on the decision on Wednesday by the Naha branch of the Fukuoka High Court to reject the Okinawa Prefectural Government’s demand that the minister of agriculture, forestry, and fisheries withdraw his order to the prefectural government to accept the Okinawa defense bureau’s request for permission to harvest coral reefs for transplantation to areas outside the planned landfill area at Henoko. Although the prefectural government claimed that the order constituted illegal intervention by the central government, the presiding judge reportedly said the local government’s disapproval of the GOJ request is outside of its discretion. Governor Tamaki told reporters that the court decision is unacceptable because it significantly limits local autonomy.

Kadena officer comments on U.S. compliance with flight rules (Okinawa Times, Ryukyu Shimpo)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team