Afternoon Alert   -   Tuesday, March 23, 2021
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Noon news

Most broadcasters led with reports that former Justice Minister Katsuyuki Kawai said he would resign from the Diet after admitting most of the charges against him for the first time during his trial today (NHK, NTV, Fuji TV, TV Asahi). TBS led with a report that the GOJ has decided to additionally allocate more than 2.1 trillion yen from this year's reserve fund for measures against COVID-19.


Japan voices “serious concern” about human rights of Uyghurs

Nikkei and Yomiuri reported online on remarks made to the press this morning by Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato voicing “serious concern” about the human rights situation in Xinjiang. He was quoted as saying: “We’ve been asking the Chinese government to provide a transparent account” of what is happening there. As for the sanctions imposed yesterday by the EU on Chinese officials involved in the persecution of the Uyghurs, the government spokesman said Tokyo has been "exchanging various opinions" with the U.S. and European governments but refused to elaborate. Asked if Japan plans to adopt similar punitive measures, the GOJ official said: “There are no provisions that stipulate the invocation of sanctions only for the reason of human rights” in relevant statutes, such as the Foreign Exchange Law.

Yomiuri explained that since Japan is the only country among the G7 members that has no legislation on penalizing foreign government officials or entities for human rights violations, some lawmakers are aiming to draft and enact such a bill. However, the GOJ is cautious about the idea on the grounds that "it may interfere in the internal affairs of foreign countries," in the words of an unnamed senior administration official.

Yomiuri separately wrote that State Department Deputy Spokesperson Porter commented on Japan's failure to punish the Chinese over the matter by saying: "We certainly won’t make recommendations or legislate what Japan decides to do on their own."

Senior U.S. Embassy official meets with supra-partisan group on Taiwan

Sankei wrote that a supra-partisan parliamentary group on Taiwan held a general meeting at a Tokyo hotel on Monday and U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Nick Hill and Representative Hsieh Chang-Ting of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Japan were invited to attend. The paper wrote that this was the first time for a senior U.S. Embassy official to attend a gathering of the group. The paper wrote that DCM Hill supported the promotion of parliamentary exchanges between the United States, Japan, and Taiwan and Taiwan’s participation in the WTO.

Japan-Taiwan parliamentary group to organize strategic dialogue on Hong Kong (Sankei)

Japan lawmakers propose talks with Taiwan, U.S. (Jiji Press)

Fruit of Taiwan’s pineapple problem (Nikkei)

Blinken and Austin’s heavy lifting: Takeaways from Indo-Pacific tour (Nikkei Asia)

Editorial: Strengthening Japan-U.S. alliance will lead to resolution of abduction issue (Sankei)

ROK envoy to Japan meets with Yomiuri Shimbun Holdings chair (Yomiuri)

Motegi positively evaluates U.S.-China diplomatic talks (Jiji Press)

Japan pledges vaccination support for Vietnam, Laos (Jiji Press)

Cartoon: Suga girds his loins (Kanagawa Shimbun)

Why Quad boosts India’s vaccine diplomacy: 5 things to know (Nikkei Asia)

Editorial: Strategically negotiate with Russia based on original point of northern territories issue (The Japan News)


Chinese ships spotted near Senkakus for 38th consecutive day (Sankei)

Phishing scams in Japan surge 4-fold in 2020 amid epidemic (Jiji Press)


Most Japanese firms see rebound in FY2021, NHK survey (NHK WORLD)

Toshiba and U.S. startup to offer drone interception service (Nikkei Asia)

Hitachi wins $2 bil. Washington railcar contract (NHK WORLD)

TEPCO counterterrorism deficiencies not found at other EPCOs (Nikkei)

Marubeni to build first Saudi megasolar plant, targets 2023 opening (Nikkei Asia)

As e-money gains ground in Japan, so do local digital currencies (The Japan Times)

Editorial: Wage hikes hold key for economic recovery from pandemic (The Asahi Shimbun)


Prime minister’s schedule on March 22, 2021 (Sankei)

Suga reportedly said he’ll stay mum about election (NHK WORLD)

Suga urges LDP to close ranks as Lower House election looms (The Asahi Shimbun)

Editorial: LDP needs to address domestic, global issues with humble attitude (The Japan News)

Suga aims to raise average minimum wages to 1,000 yen (Jiji Press)


Trials and transparency stand in the way of Japan’s acquisition of non-Western shots (The Japan Times)

Restaurant chain sues Tokyo govt over early closure order (Jiji Press)

Baby with COVID possibly infected by mom in Japan (NHK WORLD)

Japan’s slow COVID vaccine rollout turns hope into frustration (Nikkei Asia)

Daiichi Sankyo, KM Biologics start COVID vaccine trials (Jiji Press)

Editorial: Excluding overseas spectators part of Japan’s duty to ensure safe Games (The Japan News)

Editorial: Top planner again makes mockery of Tokyo Games’ ‘Unity in Diversity’ principle (The Mainichi)

Infographic: 458,398 persons in Japan confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 (March 22, 2021) (NHK digital)

Infographic: Status of gov’t indicators for COVID-19 in Tokyo (March 22, 2021) (Tokyo Shimbun)


Suga not to attend ceremony for Olympic torch relay

NHK reported that Prime Minister Suga will not attend the opening ceremony for the Olympic torch relay to be held in Fukushima on Thursday in light of the Diet schedule. The premier reportedly revealed his decision in a written response to a follow-up question from media outlets after his press conference on March 18. The prime minister also reportedly said: "I hope that the journey of the Olympic torch around the nation will be a valuable opportunity for people throughout Japan to feel that the Games are drawing closer day by day."

False information circulated in NRC after nuclear accident at Fukushima Daiichi (Asahi)

Ex-Green Beret used concert as cover for Ghosn escape (Nikkei Asia)

J. Front Retailing creates leave system for LGBT support (Jiji Press)


GOJ mulls timing for announcement of new target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions

NHK reported that Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato told reporters today that the GOJ will decide when to present to the international community Japan's new 2030 target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions while examining its climate change policy ahead of the series of international conferences on climate change. Kato reportedly said: "Prime Minister Suga has already expressed his intent to decide on an ambitious reduction target ahead of the COP26 in November. The timing is yet to be decided, but as we examine our policy ahead of a series of international conferences, we hope to decide when to present our reduction target to the international community." Concerning a new government panel of experts on climate change, Kato reportedly said: "The panel will hold cross-sectoral discussions on measures against climate change and examine the policy of realizing a green economy from the viewpoint of conserving the global environment." In addition, Kato reportedly said that Japan hopes to "lead the international community" in realizing a decarbonized society by working closely with each nation ahead of the COP26.

Japan to set bolder 2030 emissions target with eye on U.S. alliance (Nikkei Asia)

Japan’s Astroscale launches space debris-removal satellite (Nikkei Asia)

Fukui Pref.’s microsatellite successfully launched (Jiji Press)


Students forced by pandemic to give up studying abroad hone their skills in Japan (Nikkei evening edition)


Doubts remain regarding reliability of Sankei-FNN joint public opinion poll (Akahata)

51% of voters say state of emergency lifted ‘too early,’ Asahi survey (The Asahi Shimbun)


Discussions underway with U.S. on “mission essential” workers at U.S. bases in Japan (Ryukyu Shimpo)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team