Afternoon Alert   -   Tuesday, February 16, 2021
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Noon news

Broadcasters led with reports on the forecast for blizzards in northern Japan today and tomorrow (NHK, Fuji TV, TV Asahi) and the first meeting this afternoon to select a new leader of the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee (NTV, TBS).


Armed Chinese government vessel entered Japanese waters near Senkakus

NHK reported that according to the 11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters, four Chinese government vessels entered Japanese territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands from Monday to Tuesday morning, saying that while two of them apparently left the territorial waters at about 10 a.m. today, the remaining two are apparently making moves to approach a Japanese fishing boat. The network also said one of the two vessels that left the territorial waters was armed with a cannon-like weapon, saying that this is the first intrusion into Japan's territorial waters by a Chinese vessel carrying a large weapon since the new law was enacted in China to authorize the use of weapons against foreign vessels.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato told the press this morning: "The two China Coast Guard vessels that entered Japan's territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa yesterday still remain there. In addition, two additional vessels belonging to the Chinese coast guard also entered the territorial waters at around 4:15 a.m. today and made moves to approach a Japanese fishing boat... We are aware that one of the two vessels that entered the territorial waters this morning was carrying a cannon-like object." Kato reportedly added that the recent intrusions of Chinese vessels into Japanese territorial waters cannot be tolerated and that Tokyo lodged a strong protest against the Chinese side through its diplomatic channel. Defense Minister Kishi also reportedly said: "China Coast Guard vessels chased a Japanese fishing boat and entered Japan's territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands. The Japan Coast Guard is responding, but the Ministry of Defense and the SDF will also strengthen their surveillance.... We will send a strong message that the new coast guard law is problematic in terms of consistency with international law and is totally unacceptable."

Sense of crisis rises in gov’t as China justifies its activities near Senkakus (Mainichi)

Japan to monitor land acquisitions around SDF bases and nuclear power plants (The Japan News)

Japan ground troops to get transport vessels amid China’s rise (Kyodo News)

Editorial: MSDF submarine’s collision with cargo ship could have caused tragedy (The Japan News)


GOJ to send official to Takeshima Day ceremony on Feb. 22

NHK reported online that National Public Safety Commissioner Okonogi, who is in charge of territorial issues, announced today that Parliamentary Secretary Yoshiaki Wada from the Cabinet Office will attend this year's Takeshima Day ceremony to be held in Matsue, Shimane, on Feb. 22. The network said Shimane Prefecture marks Feb. 22 as "Takeshima Day" and holds a ceremony every year. The network added that the GOJ has been sending a GOJ official to the ceremony every year since the launch of the second Abe Cabinet in an effort to clarify Japan's position on the Takeshima Islands, and the Suga administration has decided to follow suit.

Japan joins international declaration against arbitrary detention

NHK reported this afternoon that the International Declaration Against Arbitrary Detention in State-to-State Relations led by Canada was released on Monday, saying it has been endorsed by 58 nations, including the U.S., Japan and the European countries. The network said that while the declaration expresses strong concern that "the arbitrary arrest or detention of foreign nationals to compel action or to exercise leverage over a foreign government is contrary to international law," it does not mention any cases of arbitrary detention or countries, adding, however, that Reuters quoted a Canadian official as saying the initiative was sparked by concern over arrests of foreigners by China, Iran, Russia and North Korea. The network also reported that Secretary of State Blinken said in a statement that the declaration "sends a clear message that history remains on the side of human rights and the rule of law—not the cynical use of law as a political tool" and called on all like-minded countries to join the initiative.

Memorial service held in Katsuura to mourn victims of Hermann shipwreck (Yomiuri Boso edition)

Kim Jong Un lashes out at cabinet over economy, with US unengaged (Nikkei Asia)

Why has MOFA accepted “anti-Japan” ROK ambassador? – Kang Chang-il, who has repeatedly exhibited Japan-bashing behaviors (Yahoo!News Japan other)

Exclusive: Japan’s new envoy arrives in S. Korea (Jiji Press)

Interview: U.S. expert says Biden pinning high hopes on Japan (Jiji Press)

Commentary: Beijing already using information warfare with Biden team (The Japan Times)

Myanmar coup tests companies on human rights action (Nikkei Asia)

Myanmar coup removes central bank chief, alarming global financiers (Nikkei Asia)

Commentary: It’s complicated: Myanmar and China have a difficult relationship (Nikkei Asia)

Interview: Ex-U.S. envoy to Myanmar seeks Japan’s strong message on coup (Jiji Press)

Opinion: EU-Japan partnership has a bright future (Nikkei Asia)

Putin indicates Russia will not negotiate territorial spat with Japan (Kyodo News)

Indonesia’s investment race shaken up by China as Japan fades (Nikkei Asia)

Editorial: Impeachment acquittal does not clear Trump of responsibility for undermining democracy (The Japan News)


Mayor says OK to restart of No. 3 reactor at nuke plant in Mihama (The Asahi Shimbun)

Editorial: Japan’s excessive liquidity-driven market not reflecting real economy amid pandemic (The Mainichi)

Editorial: Expanding wind power use needs careful look at suitability of site (The Asahi Shimbun)

Editorial: New legislation to regulate tech giants should be used to realize fair business (The Japan News)

Water overflows from spent nuclear fuel pools at Japan nuclear power plants (The Japan News)

Japan’s revised industrial output down 1.0 pct in Dec. (Jiji Press)

Japan GDP rises for 2nd straight quarter (Jiji Press)

Rice prices in Japan expected to fall for 2nd year in 2021 (Jiji Press)


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

Prime minister’s schedule on Feb. 13, 2021 (Sankei)

Prime minister’s schedule on Feb. 14-15, 2021 (Sankei)

Gist of interpellations at Lower House budget committee meeting, Feb. 15, 2021 (Yomiuri)

Focus: Beleaguered Suga pins hopes on vaccines (Kyodo News)

Suga’s son may be person with interests with govt duties (Jiji Press)

Japan appoints ‘minister of loneliness’ to help people home alone (Nikkei Asia)


72% back Mori’s decision to resign; 70% wary of vaccine, Asahi survey (The Asahi Shimbun)

Opinion poll & results from Asahi Shimbun (Asahi)

81% have high hopes for coronavirus vaccine in Japan, up 9 points, Mainichi poll (The Mainichi)

39% say Japan should “eliminate” nuclear power, 56% say “certain amount needed,” Mainichi poll (Mainichi)

Opinion poll & results from Mainichi Shimbun (Mainichi)

Suga Cabinet disapproval tops 40 pct for 1st time, Jiji survey (Jiji Press)

60 pct oppose Tokyo Games this summer, Jiji survey (Jiji Press)


Japan to survey side effects of 3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine (Kyodo News)

Japan governors agree to share information on vaccinations (Jiji Press)

Editorial: COVID-19 vaccinations: Avoid confusion through close cooperation (The Japan News)

Survey: Room for improvement in PCR testing (NHK WORLD)

Editorial: Japan gov’t abuse of private rights under revised COVID-19 laws unacceptable (The Mainichi)

Suspicious COVID-19 vaccines being traded on dark web (Nikkei)

Editorial: Protect the elderly by thorough testing to prevent clusters at nursing homes (The Japan News)

Editorial: WHO Wuhan mission a charade, not a scientific investigation (Japan Forward)

Infographic: Status of gov’t indicators for COVID-19 in Tokyo (Feb. 15, 2021) (Tokyo Shimbun)

Infographic: 418,458 persons in Japan confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 (Feb. 15, 2021) (NHK digital)


Japan has 15,663 specified skilled foreign workers (Jiji Press)

Fear of deportation weighs on pregnant foreign workers in Japan (Nikkei Asia)

Thousands take to the streets in Tokyo to protest Myanmar coup (The Japan Times)

10 years on: auto industry leading biz expansion into Tohoku (Jiji Press)

Editorial: Prepare for aftershocks and coronavirus in Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures after latest quake (The Japan News)

Suicides of school students rise sharply in Japan in 2020 (Jiji Press)

Editorial: Mori’s decision to step down as Tokyo Games chief came too late (The Japan News)

Editorial: Mori symbolizes a mindset that Japan must finally cast aside (The Asahi Shimbun)

Editorial: Let Tokyo Games chief disaster be lesson to end Japan’s anachronistic ways (The Mainichi)

Cartoon: Just who talks too much? (Tokyo Shimbun)

Editorial: Safety measures against powerful quakes need quick shoring up (The Asahi Shimbun)


Okinawa lodges protest with U.S. Marines over indecent assault case

The Saturday editions of Ryukyu Shimpo and Okinawa Times wrote that Masaru Kinjo, director general of the Executive Office of the Governor, summoned Neil Owens, director of Marine Corps Installation Pacific Government and External Affairs, to his office on Feb. 12 to submit a written protest over the arrest of a Marine on suspicion of indecent assault against a local woman. Kinjo reportedly told Owens that the incident was intolerable because it not only caused great anxiety among local residents but also violated a woman's human rights. Owens reportedly apologized and said the Marine Corps takes the incident seriously and will cooperate fully with the investigation by the local police. According to Ryukyu Shimpo, Kinjo added that the suspect, who is believed to have been under the influence of alcohol at the time of the incident, is likely to have violated liberty regulations, under which servicemembers are banned from consuming alcohol off-base between 12 a.m. and 5 a.m., as well as COVID-19 infection prevention protocols restricting off-base activities. While quoting Owens as reportedly saying that the majority of Marines abide by the liberty regulations, the paper wrote that he did not say whether the suspect violated them. Governor Tamaki said at a regular press conference on Feb. 12 that he couldn't help but doubt whether the liberty regulations were actually working.

Japanese healthcare workers at U.S. bases in Okinawa to be given priority for vaccination (Ryukyu Shimpo)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team