Afternoon Alert   -   Friday, March 19, 2021
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Noon news

Top stories on TV networks included the start of U.S.-China high-level talks in Alaska (NHK), the Upper House Budget Committee session today, during which Prime Minister Suga dismissed opposition criticism that his decision to lift the coronavirus state of emergency for the Tokyo region is premature (NTV, TBS, Fuji TV), and the opening this morning of the national high school baseball tournament at Koshien Stadium in Hyogo (TV-Asahi).


U.S.-China meeting in Alaska begins with exchange of harsh words

All broadcasters reported extensively on the first high-level talks between the U.S. and China in Anchorage on Thursday, saying that the session got off to a chilly start with the participants using blunt words to criticize each other’s diplomatic conduct. Secretary Blinken brought up China’s actions in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, as well as its cyberattacks on the U.S. and economic coercion of U.S. allies, stressing that “each of these actions threaten the rules-based order that maintains global stability.” Chinese Communist Party foreign affairs chief Yang dismissed the Secretary’s argument, saying China will not accept unwarranted accusations from the U.S. side. He warned the Biden administration not to intervene in China's domestic affairs.

While noting that the Alaska meeting will be a new test for the global power balance in the coming decades, TBS said the exchange of pointed remarks right from the beginning reflected the grim prospects for swift reconciliation between the two superpowers.

Editorial: 2-plus-2 should be basis for coexistence, not conflict (Asahi)

Editorial: A demonstration of strengths by the Japan-U.S. alliance (The Japan Times)

Defenders of the Quad: Austin heads to India with new China playbook (Nikkei Asia)

U.S. and South Korea omit ‘denuclearization’ from joint statement (Nikkei Asia)

Russia develops tourism in Japan’s northern territories (The Japan News)

UK’s Asia minister: Freedom of navigation ‘incredibly important’ (Nikkei Asia)

17 Japanese firms face South Korean wartime damages suit (The Asahi Shimbun)

Cartoon: Dark days for Aung San Suu Kyi…and democracy (Asahi)


Fire breaks out in SDF training area following U.S. military training there

NTV reported very briefly this morning that a fire that broke out in the GSDF East Fuji Maneuver Area in Shizuoka on Wednesday was extinguished yesterday, saying that the U.S. military had conducted a drill there just before the fire started. No injuries were reported.

Japan to continue to provide Senkakus for use of U.S. military (The Japan News)

Chinese ships spotted near Senkakus for 34th consecutive day (Sankei)

Space domain unit to be set up at Joint Staff Office (Nikkei)

Opinion: Meeting force with force is not best China policy for Japan (Nikkei)

Nikkei’s Hong Kong affiliate hit by unauthorized access (Nikkei Asia)


Experts narrowed down Haneda approach routes to six (Asahi)

Major Japanese banks to cut remittance fees (Jiji Press)


Interview with Shinjiro Koizumi: Enhance Japan-U.S. alliance by tackling climate change together (Sankei)

Interview with project manager for JAXA’s H3 rocket: Cost-cutting measures for a new style of rocket development (NIKKEI Business Daily)


Prime minister’s schedule on March 18, 2021 (Sankei)

Suga’s lack of presence in diplomacy, security reinvigorates MOFA, LDP (Yomiuri)


COVID-19 restrictions on foreign visitors to remain in place

Jiji reported that the GOJ decided on Thursday to maintain the ongoing restrictions on foreign travelers to Japan irrespective of the lifting of the COVID-19 state of emergency for the Tokyo metropolitan area scheduled for Sunday. In addition to Japanese citizens and long-term residents, only those visiting for reasons that greatly serve the public interest or have a high level of urgency will be allowed to enter. A daily cap of 2,000 will be placed on the number of visitors in these categories. During a press conference yesterday, Prime Minister Suga underscored the administration’s resolve to enforce tighter border control measures to prevent the further infiltration of the coronavirus, explaining that the number of passengers on Japan-bound flights will be reduced to limit the entry of international visitors.

Japan to allow foreign pro athletes into country (Kyodo News)

Japan to continue entry ban on foreigners (Jiji Press)

Impact of virus measures wane as Tokyo looks to cautiously reopen (The Japan Times)

Tokyo issues early closure orders over virus in nationwide 1st (Jiji Press)

Back to the office? How Japan might work after COVID-19 (Nikkei Asia)

Infographic: Status of gov’t indicators for COVID-19 in Tokyo (March 18, 2021) (Tokyo Shimbun)

Infographic: 453,483 persons in Japan confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 (March 18, 2021) (NHK digital)


Death of Uyghur woman after going back to Xinjiang to look for her father (Sankei)

Japan reviewing government use of Line app: Suga (Jiji Press)

91% say they get their news from newspapers, Japan Newspaper Publishers & Editors Association poll (Yomiuri)

Editorial: Ball is in the Diet’s court now to legalize same-sex marriages (The Asahi Shimbun)

Editorial: Japan court’s ruling same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional a huge step (The Mainichi)

Japan Inc. embraces landmark same-sex marriage ruling (Nikkei Asia)

Hibakusha group awarded prize for work to ban nuclear weapons (The Asahi Shimbun)


Okinawa files protest against U.S. military flight drills, case of alleged molestation

Okinawa Times reported that a senior Okinawa prefectural government official met with U.S. Consulate General Naha Principal Officer [sic] Jessica Megill on Thursday and filed a protest against the low-altitude flight drills conducted repeatedly by the U.S. military. The U.S. official reportedly emphasized the importance of such training by saying: “It's necessary to maintain pilots’ expertise and capabilities.” She also noted, however, that training should be conducted while taking into account its impact on local residents. The Okinawa official also denounced the alleged molestation of a local female by a Marine in January by saying: “It is absolutely unacceptable since the woman’s human rights were grossly violated.” In reply, the U.S. diplomat reportedly offered her deepest apologies, adding that the incident was absolutely unacceptable.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team