Afternoon Alert   -   Friday, March 5, 2021
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Noon news

All broadcasters led with reports that a government advisory panel approved this morning a plan to extend the state of emergency for Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures by two weeks.


Secretaries Blinken, Austin to make their first overseas trips to Japan

NHK reported at 3 p.m. that according to diplomatic sources in the U.S. and Japan, arrangements are being made for Secretary of State Blinken and Secretary of Defense Austin to make their first overseas trips to Japan and South Korea in mid-March. The network also said that arrangements are underway for Secretary Austin to visit India and for Secretary Blinken to visit Europe after visiting South Korea. The network added that the Biden administration has indicated it will take a hardline policy against China over human rights issues and its military buildup, saying that the visits by the two secretaries are a way to emphasize the U.S. stance to work closely with allies to counter China. The network also said that by demonstrating a policy of valuing allies and partners that share common values such as democracy and the rule of law the Biden administration wants to show that the U.S. has shifted its foreign policy from the Trump administration's "America First" to a policy that values international cooperation.

U.S., Japan hold bilateral security discussions

NHK reported this morning that the State Department announced on Thursday that the governments of the U.S. and Japan held bilateral security discussions by video teleconference on March 4. The network said according to the State Department, "both sides reiterated their strong opposition to unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion in the East and South China Seas" and shared "their deep concerns over the PRC’s Coast Guard Law." They also reportedly "confirmed their continued close coordination to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific," enhance deterrence, and further strengthen the U.S.-Japan Alliance. The network said Tokyo and Washington are making arrangements for Secretary State Blinken and Secretary of Defense Austin to visit Japan around March 15 for talks with Foreign Minister Motegi and Defense Minister Kishi adding that a "2+2" meeting is expected to be held during their stay in Japan. The network conjectured that the participants also exchanged views on the planned high-level visits during the teleconference on Thursday.

Monument to U.S.-Japan friendship to be unveiled on disaster-hit island (The Japan News)

In support of Taiwan, Japan’s ruling party buries old rivalries (Nikkei Asia)

U.S. Chargé d’Affaires welcomes Taiwanese representative to Ambassador’s Residence (Yomiuri)

TEPCO to support Laotian utilities in managing power grid (NIKKEI Business Daily)

U.S. to build anti-China missile network along first island chain (Nikkei Asia)

Japan has extradition treaties with U.S. and ROK only (Sankei)

Quad should work with ASEAN, Europe, Middle East and Africa: Motegi (Nikkei Asia)

Editorial: China’s new coast guard law appears designed to intimidate (The Japan Times)


Citizens’ group demands “low-altitude helicopter flights be halted” (Mainichi)

Chinese ships spotted near Senkakus for 20th consecutive day (Sankei)

Commentary: Can Japan really shoot at vessels over the Senkaku Islands? (The Japan Times)

U.S. Navy helicopters practice landing, take-off in Roppongi, Suga comments (Mainichi)

U.S. military planned to conduct drill off Senkakus last month (The Japan News)

Noise from U.S. carrier aircraft increased in three years after Iwakuni transfer (Akahata)


PM Suga stresses “difficulty” of eliminating nuclear power (Yomiuri)

The sad reality of Japan’s zero-carbon goal (Asahi)

METI to disclose ceiling bid price for solar power trading from FY2021 (Nikkei)


Prime minister’s schedule on March 4, 2021 (Sankei)

Gist of interpellations at Upper House budget committee meeting, March 4, 2021 (Yomiuri)

Cartoon: The fall of communication ministry bureaucrats (Sankei)


Spacecraft explodes after offer for free trip around the moon (The Asahi Shimbun)


Japan’s ruling parties mull new law to bar sexually abusive teachers (The Japan News)


Interview: Former U.S. envoy to Japan recalls Tohoku earthquake (Sankei)

Feature: Actor Ken Watanabe’s encounters with 3/11 victims a “lifetime’s work” (Kyodo News)

Japan imperial couple talk online with disaster victims (Jiji Press)

Editorial: Enhanced efforts needed to stop rising suicides at height of March (The Asahi Shimbun)

Consultations on domestic violence set new high for 17th year in a row (The Asahi Shimbun)

Child abuse cases across Japan top 100,000 for first time (The Asahi Shimbun)

Remembering Ezra Vogel: Undone book and wish for peace (The Asahi Shimbun)


Experts urge stricter coronavirus measures in Tokyo (Jiji Press)

Excluding overseas spectators a bid to defang Games cancellation calls (The Japan News)

Cities and towns face language barriers as they prepare to vaccinate Japan’s foreign residents (The Japan Times)

Editorial: Japan must speed up domestic vaccines against COVID-19 (Japan Forward)

Infographic: Status of gov’t indicators for COVID-19 in Tokyo (Mar. 4, 2021) (Tokyo Shimbun)

Infographic: 437,429 persons in Japan confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 (Mar. 4, 2021) (NHK digital)


U.S. military conducted low-altitude flights nationwide last fiscal year

Ryukyu Shimpo led with the finding that a total of 18 local legislatures submitted to the House of Representative in FY2020 motions calling for the suspension of low-altitude flights by U.S. military planes in their jurisdictions, noting that as the corresponding figure a year earlier was just one, the surge pointed to the U.S. military having conducted what the daily called dangerous flights throughout Japan. According to the article, a total of 310 eyewitness accounts of such flights were reported by residents to prefectural authorities in Ehime, the highest number ever. The corresponding figure in Kochi was 252, the second highest. While explaining that the U.S. military has for years used “Route Orange” for flight training over the two Shikoku prefectures, the daily said the number of low-altitude flights there appeared to be unusually high last fiscal year.

USG had plan to build atomic power plant in Okinawa in 1960s (Okinawa Times)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team