Afternoon Alert   -   Tuesday, April 6, 2021
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Noon news

Broadcasters led with reports on Health Minister Tamura's remarks this morning stressing the importance of securing enough hospital beds for seriously ill COVID-19 patients mainly in Osaka and Hyogo by asking those with mild or no symptoms to rest at hotels (NHK), the Shimane governor's decision to allow the Olympic torch relay to take place within his prefecture under certain conditions (NTV), Health Minister Tamura's remarks expressing alarm at the growing number of cases of COVID-19 in Tokyo (TV Asahi), the GOJ's plan to begin as early as next week examining the possibility of discharging contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the ocean (Fuji TV), and North Korea's announcement that it will not participate in the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics due to COVID-19 (TBS).


White House press secretary says U.S. hopes to deepen bilateral coordination on supply chains at summit

NHK reported at noon that when White House Press Secretary Psaki was asked by a reporter whether the U.S. is planning to reach an agreement on strengthening semiconductor supply chains during the upcoming U.S.-Japan summit slated for April 16 in Washington, she reportedly responded: "The U.S.-Japan alliance is a cornerstone of peace, security, and prosperity in the region. That is one of the reasons why we are working to deepen our close coordination across a variety of areas, including supply chains." Noting that President Biden has expressed his intent to review the supply chains for semiconductors and rare earths that are in short supply worldwide by saying, "We shouldn't have to rely on a foreign country—especially one that doesn't share our interests or values," the network predicted that the topic will be a major item on the agenda of the upcoming summit.

PM Suga receives second COVID-19 shot ahead of U.S. visit

NHK reported that Prime Minister Suga visited the National Center for Global Health and Medicine in Shinjuku this morning and received his second dose of COVID-19 vaccine in preparation for his planned summit with President Biden in Washington next week. The network said while the vaccination was closed to the press, Suga's secretary said the prime minister has had no health issues since receiving his second shot.

Taiwan envoy asks for Suga-Biden summit to address China (Kyodo News)

Suga aims for joint call with Biden to China on climate change (Jiji Press)

In competition with archrival China, U.S. has great expectations for Japan (Asahi)

U.S. and Japan plan ‘Belt and Road’ alternative for Indo-Pacific (Nikkei Asia)

China sends aircraft carrier strike group near Okinawa in message to U.S. and Japan (The Japan Times)

Documentary on disputed island screened at Moscow festival (Jiji Press)

Editorial: Myanmar needs the world’s intervention — now (Japan Forward)


67% say Japan should act in concert with U.S. in pressuring China, Yomiuri poll (Yomiuri)


Chinese ships spotted near Senkakus for 52nd consecutive day (Sankei)

Land purchase survey to cover 98 outlying islands (Sankei)

U.S. Navy conducted operation in Japan-claimed waters in Dec. (Kyodo News)

Japan GSDF live-fire training not to be open to public (Jiji Press)

Gov’t to set up “cyber incident investigation commission” (Yomiuri)


LDP to launch parliamentary league to promote construction of nuclear power plants (Nikkei)

BOJ begins testing digital currency (Jiji Press)

Opinion poll & results of Nikkei survey of 100 major companies (NIKKEI Business Daily)

Governor asks nuclear regulator to reassess TEPCO (NHK WORLD)

Editorial: Energy tightrope walk must be avoided by bolstering power supply (The Japan News)


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

Gist of interpellations at Upper House Audit Committee, April 5, 2021 (Yomiuri)

PM Suga willing to establish “children’s agency” (Kyodo News)


GOJ to consider discharging treated radioactive water from Fukushima into ocean

Fuji TV reported at noon on the finding that Prime Minister Suga will meet with President Kishi of the National Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations as early as Wednesday and convene a meeting of Cabinet members as early as next week to begin examining the possibility of discharging the treated radioactive water stored at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the ocean. The network said the treated water containing tritium is being stored in tanks on the premises of the nuclear plant and TEPCO predicts that the tanks will reach full capacity as early as the fall of 2022. The network said the GOJ is in the process of coordinating the views of experts and others on the possibility of discharging the treated water into the ocean, adding that Prime Minister Suga said in Fukushima last month that the GOJ "should not put off making a decision." Meanwhile, the network said the National Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations has been calling on the GOJ to make a "careful decision" on the matter. The network added that although there is deep-rooted opposition to the discharge of the water from Fukushima mainly among fishermen out of fear of harmful rumors, the GOJ's handling of the treated water will enter a new phase 10 years after the Fukushima nuclear accident.

Nikon rockets into satellite parts by buying Boeing-backed startup (Nikkei Asia)

Japanese tech startups lead as space debris sweepers (Japan Forward)


School’s out in much of the world, but Japanese teachers are happy to return (The Japan Times)


North Korea decides not to participate in Tokyo Olympics due to COVID-19

NHK reported this morning that North Korea's sports ministry announced on its website that the nation has decided not to send its athletes to the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics this summer. The DPRK Olympic Committee reportedly "discussed the suggestions of its members and decided not to participate in the 32nd Olympic Games in order to protect players from the world public health crisis caused by COVID-19." The network said North Korea has been claiming that there have been zero cases of COVID-19 within the nation and restricting its people's movement to and from China and Russia. Olympic Minister Marukawa reportedly told reporters this morning that she is aware of the media reports and is currently confirming the details. All commercial networks carried similar reports, saying that Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato told the press this morning that the GOJ will closely monitor North Korea's moves and also lay the groundwork for welcoming as many nations and regions as possible to the Tokyo games.

Russian surfers begin training on Northern Territories island

Fuji TV reported at noon that six Russian surfers who are hoping to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics have begun this season's training on Kunashiri, one of the four islands of the disputed Northern Territories. The Russian Surfing Federation reportedly released a comment saying the camp will be a "starting point" for finding the right place for training in the "homeland." The network said the decision to hold training that ignores territorial issues between Japan and Russia right before the Tokyo Olympics is expected to cause a stir.

More than 100 Chinese employees at Japanese embassy in China engaged in visa issuance (Sankei)

Commercial facility opens in Fukushima n-plant host town (Jiji Press)

Noted scriptwriter Hashida dies at 95 (Jiji Press)


Ministry: 80% of COVID-19 deaths in Japan came after November (The Asahi Shimbun)

Editorial: Only Beijing is happy with WHO report clearing China of corona coverup (Japan Forward)

Infographic: Six COVID-19 indicators for 12 key prefectures (April 4, 2021) (NHK digital)

Infographic: Status of gov’t indicators for COVID-19 in Tokyo (April 5, 2021) (Tokyo Shimbun)

Infographic: 488,058 persons in Japan confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 (April 5, 2021) (NHK digital)

Cartoon: Suga drops the ball (Asahi)


U.S. conducted freedom of navigation operation in Tsushima Strait last December

Okinawa Times and Ryukyu Shimpo wrote that the 7th Fleet conducted last December a freedom of navigation operation in the Tsushima Strait, the body of water between Kyushu and South Korea. The papers claimed that the U.S. Navy conducted the operation to express the United States’ disagreement with Japan’s claims to waters in the region. According to the papers, the 7th Fleet has said that the purpose of the operation was to express opposition to “excessive maritime claims.” However, the GOJ has argued that Japan’s claims to territorial waters are based on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. The papers speculated that the move was intended to send a warning to China over its increasing hegemonic acts in the South and East China Seas by stressing the United States’ stance of ensuring the rules-based international order by equally expressing disagreement with its ally Japan over its maritime claims. The papers wrote that the GOJ demarcated in January 1997 its maritime territory in a total of 15 areas nationwide based on the "straight baseline method," which marks straight baselines along indented coastlines, instead of the low-water method, and expanded its maritime claims based on the straight baseline method. Ryukyu Shimpo added that the United States government said in a State Department document issued in April 1998 that the low-water line should be used as the baseline for virtually the entire coastline in this area because the area does not meet conditions for applying straight baselines under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team