Afternoon Alert   -   Monday, March 8, 2021
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Noon news

All networks led with reports on Internal Affairs Minister Takeda's announcement this morning that a senior ministry official was ousted from his position on Monday following the finding that he was treated to expensive meals by NTT in violation of the ethics code for government officials.


U.S. media: President Biden planning to host Suga at White House as early as April

TV Asahi reported at noon that U.S. news site Axios reported that President Biden is planning to host Prime Minister Suga at the White House and hold an in-person summit meeting as early as April. The network said that it would be President Biden's first in-person meeting with a foreign leader. According to the report, however, a final decision has not been made, and the schedule could be pushed back depending on the COVID-19 situation. The network said the Biden administration is planning to hold an online summit with the leaders of Japan, India, and Australia sometime this month, and Secretary of State Blinken and Secretary of Defense Austin are expected to visit Japan and other Asian countries in mid-March.

NHK reported that Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato told the press this morning: "We are hoping to arrange [Suga's visit to the U.S.] as early as possible while monitoring the new coronavirus situation. That was confirmed at the teleconference held between the two leaders the other day." He reportedly added: "However, nothing concrete, including the timing of the visit, has been decided at this point."

Motegi continues to give cold shoulder to new South Korean ambassador to Japan (The Japan News)

Editorial: International cooperation needed to prevent North Korea committing financial crimes through cyber-attacks (The Japan News)

Editorial: China must realize a hard-line stance undermines its own national interests (The Japan News)

Editorial: China’s military buildup makes ‘defense’ claims hard to swallow (The Asahi Shimbun)


Chinese ships spotted near Senkakus for 23rd consecutive day (Sankei)

Feature: Okinawan women’s civic group chronicles sex crimes by U.S. military (Kyodo News)

Vaccinations begin for SDF medical personnel (NHK WORLD)

Commentary: European navies hold stronger China deterrent than first appears (Nikkei Asia)

ANA, JAL find data on around 1M. customers compromised (Jiji Press)

Japan to legally require security checks before boarding aircraft (The Japan News)


Ten years after Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan finding path to renewable energy future (The Japan Times)

JR East to boost renewable energy use in railway operations (Nikkei Asia)

Focus: Wary Japan firms looking out for signs of risk in Myanmar chaos (Kyodo News)


Prime minister’s schedule on March 7, 2021 (Sankei)

Prime minister’s schedule on March 6, 2021 (Sankei)

Prime minister’s schedule on March 5, 2021 (Sankei)

Highlights of Japan-related events scheduled for March 8-14 (Kyodo News)

INTERVIEW: Ex-PM Abe wants Tokyo Games to go down in history (Jiji Press)

Editorial: Ethics scandal in Japan’s comms ministry highlights need to reform cozy ties (The Mainichi)


More than 60% think GOJ will not be able to lift state of emergency for Tokyo area on 3/21

TBS reported on the results of its opinion poll conducted over the weekend which found that public support for the Suga Cabinet rose 1.8 points from last month to 42.6%. Nonsupport dropped 2.7 points to 53.2%. This is reportedly the first increase in public support under the Suga administration. On the GOJ's measures to fight COVID-19, 45% expressed support, while the same percentage expressed disapproval. Meanwhile, 74% welcomed the GOJ's decision to extend the state of emergency for the Tokyo region, while 20% did not. When asked whether they think the GOJ will be able to lift the state of emergency for the Tokyo region on March 21, 66% said no, while 24% said yes. In addition, 66%, up 6 points from last month, said they wish to get vaccinated for COVID-19, while 27% said they don't. 69% said they don't think the vaccine rollout will proceed as scheduled. Concerning PM Suga's explanation over a series of scandals involving his son, 71% expressed dissatisfaction. As for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, 28% said the games should be held as planned this summer, while 67% said they should be either postponed or cancelled.

78% approve of state of emergency extension, Yomiuri poll (The Japan News)

Opinion poll & results from Yomiuri Shimbun (Yomiuri)

20% of local gov’ts in Japan have no disaster specialists, Kyodo News survey (Kyodo News)


GOJ to allow entry of Olympic athletes, officials

Nikkei wrote that as a number of pre-Olympic international sports events are scheduled to take place in Japan in April and later, the GOJ is planning to open the border to foreign athletes and sports officials contingent on the lifting of the COVID-19 state of emergency. They will be allowed to visit Japan in accordance with a provision of the Immigration Control Law that authorizes the entry of aliens under “extraordinary circumstances.” In addition to athletes and sports officials, international students and educators on government-sponsored study programs, as well as certain engineers, will also be eligible to enter under the same clause. Nikkei added that a daily cap of 2,000 will be placed on such visitors to prevent the infiltration of new variants of the novel coronavirus.

Monument of “Operation Tomodachi” set up in Kesennuma, Miyagi

Fuji TV reported on Sunday evening that a ceremony was held in Kesennuma, Miyagi, earlier in the day to unveil a monument expressing appreciation for "Operation Tomodachi" conducted by the U.S. military after the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011. The network said the U.S. military provided support to the island of Oshima in Kesennuma, which was cut off from the mainland, by helping remove debris and delivering goods under "Operation Tomodachi" immediately after the disaster in April. The monument bares in English the words: "You are an inspiration showing perseverance and strength. Friendship forever...With sincere gratitude for Operation Tomodachi 2011." The network said Maj. Caleb Eames, a U.S. Marine who participated in "Operation Tomodachi," also attended the ceremony, quoting him as saying: "It's remarkable to see that the community has just come back tremendously. But even more than the physical recovery, you can really feel the emotional and spiritual recovery....Ganbatte, Oshima!"

U.N. crime prevention conference kicks off in Kyoto (The Japan Times)

Myanmar residents ask Japan to push military to free Suu Kyi (Kyodo News)

Residents of Tohoku island establish monument of friendship with U.S. military (Yomiuri)

10 years on: Japan still has long way toward Fukushima plant dismantling (Jiji Press)

10 years on: Operation Tomodachi still a symbol of U.S.-Japan bonds (Jiji Press)

10 years on: Over 70 pct of municipalities still need support staff (Jiji Press)

10 years on: Young people playing active role in disaster-hit areas (Jiji Press)

Focus: Fukushima fish, rice still struggling to overcome consumer concerns (Kyodo News)

Feature: Deconstructing reconstruction to increase understanding of Fukushima (Kyodo News)

Most 2011 quake, Fukushima crisis survivors back ending nuclear power (Kyodo News)

Feature: Efforts made to archive 2011 Japan disaster data to pass on lessons (Kyodo News)

Feature: Photographer of Japan nuke disaster training lens for all power users (Kyodo News)

10 major firms posted ads on ‘hoax’ website (The Japan News)

Feature: Fukushima nuclear crisis evacuees face unresolved issues 10 years on (Kyodo News)

Editorial: 10 years after accident, govt should consider vision for future of N-power (The Japan News)

Editorial: 10 years after disaster, develop industries that take advantage of Tohoku’s attractiveness (The Japan News)

School in west Japan receives blue-eyed doll from grandson of US missionary (The Mainichi)

Focus: Japanese media urged to address male dominance following sexism uproar (Kyodo News)

Japan has 60% more female executives but still lags West (Nikkei Asia)

More in Japan recognize Ainu as indigenous: govt survey (Jiji Press)

Japan Times to scrap Sunday paper, launch weekend edition from April (Kyodo News)

Feature: Efforts made to archive 2011 Japan disaster data to pass on lessons (Kyodo News)


Editorial: Devise measures to prevent infections even after state of emergency is lifted (The Japan News)

Editorial: Take lasting, concrete action during newly extended state of emergency (The Japan News)

Editorial: No guarantees extended state of emergency will contain virus (The Asahi Shimbun)

Editorial: In expected absence of foreign spectators, Tokyo Games should prioritize safety (The Mainichi)

Infographic: Status of gov’t indicators for COVID-19 in Tokyo (Mar. 7, 2021) (Tokyo Shimbun)


Okinawa worried about GOJ plan to regulate foreign purchase of land around bases

Saturday’s Ryukyu Shimpo reported extensively on a GOJ plan to enact a new law aimed at limiting acquisition by foreign capital of real estate near nuclear power plants, military installations, and other facilities with national security implications, saying that Okinawa’s business transactions may be affected adversely since the island prefecture hosts a large number of U.S., SDF, and Japan Coast Guard facilities. As areas within a 1-km radius of such facilities will be designated under the planned legislation as “watch zones,” where public authorities are allowed to investigate the use of land and buildings with the goal of preventing the foreign purchase of such assets, the daily projected that many residential and business districts bordering Kadena AB, MCAS Futenma, and other U.S. installations may be subject to such restrictions because they are situated in city centers. The article voiced concern that commercial transactions involving local real estate may be curtailed substantially as a result of the concentration of U.S. bases.

NPO Women’s Pride celebrates 15th anniversary (Ryukyu Shimpo)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team