Afternoon Alert   -   Monday, March 15, 2021
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Noon news

Noon news

All commercial networks led with reports that the presidents of NTT and the broadcast-related company Tohoku Shinsha offered apologies at the Diet today over the issue of the wining and dining of senior officials of the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry. NHK gave top play to an earthquake with a seismic intensity of 3 that hit Wakayama at about 11:30 a.m. today.


Secretary Blinken, Secretary Austin to strengthen ties with allies to deal with China

NHK reported that Secretary of State Blinken and Secretary of Defense Austin contributed an op-ed to the Washington Post on Sunday ahead of their first overseas trip to Japan, South Korea, and other nations. The network said the two secretaries criticized China by name by writing: "Some seek to challenge the international order.... China in particular is all too willing to use coercion to get its way." They also reportedly stressed that they will strengthen ties with U.S. allies through their visit by saying: "Our combined power makes us stronger when we must push back against China’s aggression and threats." Concerning the human rights issues in Xinjang, Tibet, and Hong Kong as well as the issues of Taiwan and the South China Sea, they reportedly wrote: "We will hold China accountable." Meanwhile, the network said the secretaries also indicated their intention to urge Japan and South Korea to improve their relations by saying: "We’re also focused on revitalizing the relationships between and among our allies." Noting that top U.S. and Chinese diplomats are expected to hold talks in Alaska on March 18, the network said Washington is planning to align America's policies with those of its allies before the meeting with China.

U.S. began reaching out to North Korea in February

NHK reported at noon that a senior official of the Biden administration told the network on Sunday that the U.S. has been reaching out to North Korea through such channels as the North Korean mission to the UN in New York since mid-February. The official reportedly said: "In order to avoid the risk of tensions escalating, we have reached out to the North Korean government through several channels." The official reportedly added, however: "As of now, we have not received any response from Pyongyang. Despite several attempts to engage, we have been unable to hold any active dialogue with North Korea for more than a year." The official also reportedly indicated that the Biden administration will soon decide on a new policy on North Korea by saying: "We have been talking with Japan and South Korea in coming up with a new way to deal with North Korea. In a few weeks, we will finish conducting a comprehensive review of our policy that involves many stakeholders."

FM Motegi: China’s move to alter Hong Kong electoral system “cannot be overlooked” (Nikkei)

Japanese, S. Korean fishing boats collide in Japan’s EEZ (Yomiuri)

Olympic hopeful? Moon pins legacy on Kim Jong Un trip to Seoul (Nikkei Asia)

Prolonged turmoil in Myanmar puts economic assistance in limbo (Nikkei)

Editorial: Use agreement reached by Quad leaders to realize regional stability (The Japan News)

The Quad comes of age: In pictures (Nikkei Asia)

U.S. emboldens Suga in hope for stable Indo-Pacific partner (Nikkei Asia)

A new dawn: Quad leaders vow to define the Indo-Pacific century (Nikkei Asia)

Focus: Uncertainties linger over how U.S. promotion of Quad will play out (Kyodo News)

Japan, Australia, India, ASEAN to promote data sharing on supply chains (The Japan News)

Japan seeks transparency in aid by China, others (Jiji Press)

Iran uranium enrichment nears critical level: IAEA chief (Nikkei Asia)

Cartoon: Xi doesn’t like what he hears (Mainichi)

China emerges as quantum tech leader while Biden vows to catch up (Nikkei Asia)

Hydrogen project starts in Australia (NHK WORLD)

Editorial: Japan needs strategy to raise profile through top positions in intl bodies (The Japan News)


Ishigaki City decides to install signs indicating names of Senkaku islands

NHK reported that following a decision by the City of Ishigaki, Okinawa, last October to include the word "Senkaku" in the official names of the five islands of the Senkakus, including the island of Uotsurishima, the city has decided to install signs on each island indicating the new names. The network said that the city is planning to obtain approval from the GOJ to land on the islands to install the signs. An official of the Ishigaki City Hall reportedly said: "We would like to reiterate at home and abroad that the Senkaku Islands are an inherent part of the Japanese territory."

Chinese ships spotted near Senkakus for 29th consecutive day (Sankei)

Joint team set up to develop next ASDF fighter jet (NHK WORLD)

Why Operation Tomodachi worked like clockwork (The Asahi Shimbun)

Japan’s SDF recognized for medical efforts amid pandemic (The Japan News)


70% of Japanese firms rethink overseas business strategy amid virus, JETRO poll (Kyodo News)

More Myanmar workers hired by smaller Japanese companies (Nikkei Asia)

Commentary: Siberia’s warming shows climate change has no winners (Nikkei Asia)

Japan to weigh undersea cable projects for offshore wind power (Nikkei Asia)

Ministries agree to ease environmental assessment regulations on wind power plants (Nikkei)

METI to raise target for independent development ratio of oil and natural gas (Nikkei)

China’s ‘corona tech’ takes hold across Japan and ASEAN (Nikkei Asia)

JAL signs partnership deal with Russian university (NHK WORLD)

Focus: Chinese ban on Taiwanese pineapples boosts sales in Japan (Kyodo News)


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

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

Highlights of Japan-related events scheduled for March 15-21 (Kyodo News)

Rengo urges Suga administration to ratify ILO convention on discrimination (Asahi)

Aso marks 3,000 days in office as finance minister (Jiji Press)


More than 70% think state of emergency won’t be lifted on March 21

Fuji TV reported at noon on the results of its opinion poll conducted over the weekend, which found that public support for the Suga Cabinet was 51.4% and nonsupport was 42.8%. On the GOJ's measures against the COVID-19 outbreak, 42.5% expressed approval, while 48.2% did not. When asked whether the GOJ will be able to lift the state of emergency for the Tokyo region on March 21 as planned, 21% said yes but 73.4% said no. On COVID-19 vaccines, 85.9% said they have high expectations, while 12.3% felt otherwise. In addition, 75.8% said they want to be vaccinated for the virus, while 19.9% said they don't. On the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, 27% said they should be held as planned this summer, 17.9% said they should be postponed again, and 53.8% said there is no choice but to cancel them. Meanwhile, on the decision to allow only Japanese spectators to attend, 68.8% expressed support, while 27.4% expressed opposition. Asked about Prime Minister Suga's explanation of the scandal involving his son, 70.3% said they are not satisfied, while 17.4% said they are. With regard to China's repeated intrusions into Japan's territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands, 91.2% said they see China as a threat, while 7.0% said they don't.

57% say state of emergency in Tokyo area should be extended, Mainichi poll (The Mainichi)

Opinion poll & results from Mainichi Shimbun (Mainichi)

76% say Japan should eliminate nuclear power, Nihon Yoron Chosakai poll (Tokyo Shimbun)

Suga Cabinet approval almost unchanged at 35 pct, Jiji poll (Jiji Press)

Over half to wait and see before COVID-19 jab, Jiji poll (Jiji Press)


Hayabusa2 capsule goes on display near Tokyo (NHK WORLD)

Exclusive: Merck, AstraZeneca to start COVID-19 drug trials in Japan (Jiji Press)

Japanese stem cell treatment for Parkinson’s set for U.S. trials (Nikkei Asia)

Editorial: Put utmost efforts into development, materials procurement for EV batteries (The Japan News)


American English instructor posts video saying he will “kill the children” (NTV digital)

Japan to try Americans who helped Ghosn escape: 5 things to know (Nikkei Asia)

Multilingual telehealth services target foreigners in Japan (Kyodo News)

Ex-ambassador Roos recalls nuke crisis, resilience of Tohoku people (The Asahi Shimbun)

INTERVIEW: Envoy lauds Tunisia-Ishinomaki ties via host-town initiative (Jiji Press)

Editorial: Disaster medical teams vital resource for enhancing pandemic response (The Japan News)

Editorial: Actions based on post-disaster determination needed to change Japan for better (The Mainichi)

Japan to ramp up human trafficking measures (NHK WORLD)

Sri Lankan woman dies in detention, wrote about her hunger (The Asahi Shimbun)

Media mix: Immigration reform fails to resolve asylum contradictions (The Japan Times)

Embassies of Russia, China worst in unpaid parking fines (The Asahi Shimbun)

Japan News)


Tokyo Games chief wary of Chinese vaccines for athletes (Jiji Press)

Feature: Tokyo Olympic CEO says games to be symbol of solidarity (Kyodo News)

Japan tests COVID-19 status app for travelers (NHK WORLD)

Tokyo to enhance coronavirus variant screening system (Jiji Press)

Japan likely to secure over 100 M. vaccine doses by June (Jiji Press)

Vaccinations for elderly to begin in populous areas in limited supply (Kyodo News)

Infographic: 448,624 persons in Japan confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 (March 14, 2021) (NHK digital)

Japan finds coronavirus variant reported in Philippines (Jiji Press)


Experts post letter calling on Biden administration to close overseas bases

Saturday’s Ryukyu Shimpo wrote that the Overseas Base Realignment and Closure Coalition (OBRACC), a bipartisan group of national security and military base experts, has posted on its website an open F-35s generate loud noise over Ginowan area (Ryukyu Shimpo)

U.S. soldiers seen carrying guns off base in Okinawa, perceived as “insensitive” (Okinawa Times)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team