Afternoon Alert   -   Friday, March 26, 2021
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Noon news

TV networks led with reports on the UNSC's plan to hold an emergency meeting to discuss North Korea's ballistic missile launches (NHK), Health Minister Tamura's remarks this morning expressing alarm at the recent surge in the number of new COVID-19 cases in Osaka and Miyagi prefectures (NTV, TBS), the possibility that the two ballistic missiles test-fired by North Korea yesterday are a new type of missile capable of reaching Japan (Fuji TV), and the likely passage today of the budget for the next fiscal year (TV Asahi).


North Korea announces test-firing of “new-type tactical guided projectiles”

All networks reported at noon that North Korea's state media announced this morning that North Korea test-fired two "newly developed new-type tactical guided projectiles" on Thursday. According to the state media, the improved weapon system can carry a warhead that weighs 2.5 tons and successfully hit a target in waters 600 km east of the Korean Peninsula. The networks said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was apparently not present for the launch. NHK said that while the UNSC sanctions committee is expected to convene an emergency meeting on Friday evening Japan time, it remains unclear whether the nations will be able to reach a consensus on a response to the launch as China and Russia have been calling for the relaxation of sanctions.

Several networks quoted Defense Minister Kishi as telling reporters this morning that the missiles were "a new type of ballistic missile that had never been fired before." Kishi also reportedly said his ministry is continuing to analyze information on the missiles. He also disclosed that director-general-level defense officials of Japan and the U.S. held a meeting on Thursday and shared the view that North Korea's ballistic missile launches threaten the peace and stability of the international community and agreed on close trilateral cooperation between Japan, the U.S., and South Korea.

PM Suga vows to discuss North Korea with President Biden in upcoming summit

NHK reported at noon that Prime Minister Suga said at an Upper House Budget Committee meeting today that he will raise North Korea as one of the top items on the agenda at the upcoming summit with President Biden in April. According to the network, Suga said that the first ballistic missile launches by North Korea in about a year "threaten the peace and security of our nation" and cannot be tolerated, stressing the need to boost surveillance more than ever. In response to a question on whether he plans to raise the issue as one of the top items on the agenda during the summit, the premier reportedly said: "I'm not going to make presumptions about what will be on the agenda at this point, but I would like to work closely with President Biden on North Korea policy, including the issue of ballistic missiles. Of course, I would like to do so in the form of discussions." When asked whether he will invite President Biden to the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, Suga reportedly said: "Naturally, we will invite him since all of the G7 leaders agreed at the virtual G7 summit to make the Games a success."

Japan-U.S. to issue joint statement about Senkaku Islands (The Japan News)

Japan continues dialogue with Myanmar military (Asahi)

LDP project team on diplomacy and human rights discusses Uyghur human rights (Nikkei)

Editorial: Japan, S. Korea, U.S. need joint strategy to deal with N. Korea (The Asahi Shimbun)

Editorial: North Korea provokes in predictable ways (The Japan Times)

North Korea missiles rattle South and Japan as U.S. stays calm (Nikkei Asia)

Interview: Ambassador Shahabuddin Ahmed on Japan’s part in Bangladesh’s progress (Japan Forward)


U S., Japan begin talks on Japan’s safeguard on U.S. beef imports

NHK reported this morning that the governments of the U.S. and Japan began talks on Japan's safeguard tariff hike invoked on March 18 on U.S. beef imports based on the bilateral trade agreement. The network said that the agreement calls for the two governments to begin talks on future measures within 10 days of the introduction of the safeguard. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) reportedly announced today that the first meeting was held online. According to the network, senior officials of the Cabinet Secretariat, MOFA, and MAFF from the Japanese side and senior officials of the USTR from the U.S. side attended the meeting. They reportedly shared information on Japan's safeguard measures and agreed to continue the talks in accordance with the bilateral trade agreement. Noting that the safeguard will be invoked when the volume of U.S. beef imports reaches 247,000 tons in FY2021, which is 5,000 tons more than in FY2020, and the threshold volume will gradually increase until FY2033, the network said the two governments will discuss whether the thresholds are reasonable. They are expected to conclude the talks by June.

LNG bunkering hub in Yokohama to be completed this spring (Kanagawa Shimbun)

TEPCO apologizes to Niigata governor over n-plant security flaws (Jiji Press)

Coronavirus bankruptcies in Japan reach 1,200 (NHK WORLD)


INDOPACOM corrects “East Sea” reference on North Korea’s missile launch

NHK reported online this morning that the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command released a statement on Friday correcting its March 24 statement saying North Korea test-fired two ballistic missiles into "the East Sea," the English name for the body of water between Japan and the Korean Peninsula promoted by the ROK. The network said Tokyo asked Washington to make a correction by saying that the Sea of Japan is "the single internationally-established name." The statement by INDOPACOM today said: "Last night's statement should have referred to the Sea of Japan or waters off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula. The United States has not changed its position on using Sea of Japan as the sole approved name for the geographic feature."

Dilapidated JCG Senkaku patrol boat becomes temporarily inoperable (Sankei)

Chinese ships spotted near Senkakus for 41st consecutive day (Sankei)

U.S. military corrects “East Sea” reference on N. Korea missile test (Kyodo News)

Why can’t Japan regulate U.S. military’s low-altitude flight training? (Asahi evening edition)


Prime minister’s schedule on March 25, 2021 (Sankei)

Suga-style politics 1 / Buffeted with headwinds, Japanese prime minister battles to stay on track (The Japan News)


Tougher EU emissions targets send carbon prices skyrocketing (Nikkei Asia)

Facial recognition expanding at Japan airports (NHK WORLD)

Kyoto Univ. to supply iPS cells from COVID-19 survivors for free (Jiji Press)


How money and politics dictate the Tokyo Games (The Japan Times)

Cartoon: Never-ending Olympic woes (Asahi)

Survey: Sexual harassment, violence rampant in art industry (The Asahi Shimbun)

LDP’s LGBT bill moving forward after five years on shelf, opposition expected (Asahi)

Japan news program commercial slammed for female discrimination discontinued (The Mainichi)


Japanese lawmakers closely watching torch relay amid pandemic (Jiji Press)

Japan police find 45 coronavirus-related scam cases in 2020 (Jiji Press)

Infographic: Status of gov’t indicators for COVID-19 in Tokyo (March 25, 2021) (Tokyo Shimbun)

Infographic: 463,727 persons in Japan confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 (March 25, 2021) (NHK digital)


Municipal assembly member plans to run for mayor in Nago

Ryukyu Shimpo and Okinawa Times front-paged Nago municipal assembly member Yohei Kishimoto’s decision to run in the local mayoral election scheduled for next year, speculating that his campaign platform will include opposition to the ongoing FRF construction initiative off Camp Schwab. He was quoted as saying that “it has been made clear through various referendums that Nago residents are against” the project. The politician, the eldest son of a former mayor, is expected to win endorsement from political groups supporting Governor Tamaki and face off with incumbent Mayor Toguchi, a proponent of the realignment plan.

U.S. military in Okinawa not testing for new strains of COVID-19 (Okinawa Times, Ryukyu Shimpo)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team