Afternoon Alert   -   Thursday, March 4, 2021
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Noon news

Broadcasters led with reports on Diet debate on Prime Minister Suga's decision to extend the state of emergency for the Tokyo metropolitan area by two weeks (NHK, TBS, Fuji TV), an increase in the number of people out and about in major cities in the Tokyo metropolitan area on Wednesday compared with two months ago (NTV), and Interpol's announcement that members of organized crime networks in China and South Africa have been arrested for selling fake COVID-19 vaccines (TV Asahi).


President Biden releases “strategic guidance”

NHK reported at noon that President Biden released a document titled "Interim National Security Strategic Guidance" on Wednesday in which he presented a plan to strengthen ties with Japan and European allies to counter China and Russia. In the guidance, the President reportedly called the alliances with NATO allies, Australia, Japan, and South Korea "America’s greatest strategic asset" and said that while the U.S. will work to end the war in Afghanistan and right-size the U.S. military presence in the Middle East, the U.S. presence will be "most robust in the Indo-Pacific and Europe." The network said that the President clarified the U.S. stance of countering China and Russia on the military and security fronts by bringing together the power of its allies. The network added that based on this interim strategic guidance, the President is planning to draft a concrete national security strategy as early as the end of this year.

Secretary Blinken says China has power to seriously challenge international order

NHK reported this morning that Secretary of State Blinken delivered his first foreign policy speech at the State Department on Wednesday, during which he referred to China as "the only country with the economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power to seriously challenge the stable and open international system." He also reportedly pointed out that the U.S.'s relationship with China is "the biggest geopolitical test of the 21st century." The network said the Secretary stressed the need to work with allies and partners to "engage China from a position of strength" and stressed that the U.S. will pursue the issue of human rights in China by saying that the U.S. needs to be "standing up for our values when human rights are abused in Xinjiang or when democracy is trampled in Hong Kong." According to the network, the Secretary mentioned that while many people at the State Department served under President Obama, "this is a different time, so our strategy and approach are different," noting that foreign policy under the Biden administration will not simply be a continuation of that under the Obama administration. He also reportedly stressed that the U.S. would call on its allies in Asia and Europe to contribute more on the security front by saying that "real partnership means carrying burdens together." He also reportedly stressed that the Biden administration will strive to resolve global issues through diplomacy.

Japan urged U.S. in Feb. to resume nuclear talks with North Korea (Kyodo News)

European navies build Indo-Pacific presence as China concerns mount (Nikkei Asia)

Promotion of a hardliner in North Korea sends message to the U.S. (AERA)

Editorial: Myanmar military’s use of force against civilians is unacceptable (Nikkei Asia)

Ministries hold first meeting of Osaka Expo liaison council (Yomiuri)

Face mask design contest held to deepen Japan-U.S. ties (Jiji Press)


Japanese columnist says Pentagon spokesperson misspoke on Senkakus

Mainichi published a column by senior writer Bando on Pentagon Press Secretary Kirby’s remark correcting his earlier statement that the United States supports Japan's claim of sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands. Some Japanese observers viewed Kirby's original statement as a shift in the U.S.’s decades-long policy of not taking sides in the Sino-Japanese territorial dispute. However, Bando claimed that the DOD official probably misspoke when trying to express U.S. solidarity with an ally and highlight Washington’s tough approach to China. He speculated that the spokesperson used the phrase “Japan’s sovereignty” over the outcrops when he actually meant to say “Japan’s administration.” The columnist voiced regret that the clarification left the impression that Washington had walked back its position. Bando also conjectured that the U.S.’s position that it opposes any unilateral attempt to change the status quo in the East China Sea is perhaps directed not only at China but also Japan.

Chinese ship spotted near Senkakus for 19th consecutive day (Sankei)

Editorial: Don’t let China normalize intrusions into waters off Senkaku Islands (The Japan News)

Japan sees record 9,875 cybercrime cases in 2020 (Jiji Press)

German frigate dispatched to South China Sea in rare move (Asahi)

Japan’s MSDF and Coast Guard hold joint drill (NHK WORLD)

Law sought for Japan Coast Guard’s operations off Senkaku isles (Jiji Press)

TOKYO REPORT: Relocation of Ospreys in Japan likely to be delayed (Jiji Press)

Hunger striker: U.S. base landfill soil mixed with WWII remains (The Asahi Shimbun)


Japan’s govt. to make airports embrace renewables (NHK WORLD)

METI mulling not presenting a revision bill of trade insurance act to the current Diet session (Nikkei)

10 years on: Fukushima radioactive water issue remains unsettled (Jiji Press)

Japan falls short of target of signing 100 investment agreements by 2020 (Nikkei)

Coronavirus bankruptcies in Japan reach 1,100 (NHK WORLD)


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

Editorial: Dysfunction in PM’s office in Japan a cause for concern (The Mainichi)

State minister says gov’t to emphasize transparency in research (Yomiuri)


70% ‘interested’ in Tokyo Games, Yomiuri poll (The Japan News)

Only 55% say they will evacuate to evacuation center at time of major disaster, Nihon Yoron Chosakai poll on disaster mitigation (Tokyo Shimbun)


Battery exhibition powers on in Tokyo (NHK WORLD)

This patch developed in Japan could let you vaccinate yourself (The Japan Times)


Japan court OKs detention of Americans accused of aiding Ghosn escape (Kyodo News)

National Personnel Authority officials learn about childcare leave system (Yomiuri)

Bereaved American family recall daughter lost in the 2011 Tohoku earthquake (Sankei)

10 years on: Northeast Japan city inspires waste-sorting in Indonesia (Jiji Press)


Focus: Can Tokyo Olympics be held with spectators during the pandemic? (Kyodo News)

Infographic: Trend in occupancy rates for COVID-19 hospital beds in Tokyo Metropolitan Area, by prefecture (Tokyo Shimbun)

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

Infographic: 436,259 persons in Japan confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 (Mar. 3, 2021) (NHK digital)


Nakagusuku village submits protest over low-altitude flights and obscenity (Ryukyu Shimpo)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team