Afternoon Alert   -   Wednesday, May 26, 2021
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Noon news

Broadcasters led with reports on the number of seriously ill COVID-19 patients in Japan reaching a record high of 1,413 as of Tuesday (NTV, Fuji TV) and a collision between a Japanese fishing boat and a Russian vessel in the Sea of Okhotsk this morning in which three Japanese crew members died (NHK, TBS).


White House press secretary says U.S. position on Tokyo Games unchanged

All networks reported at noon that in relation to the State Department's travel advisory for Japan that was raised to the highest level, White House Press Secretary Psaki explained to the press on Tuesday that there are "very specific entry and movement rules and procedures" for U.S. athletes and reiterated the U.S. government's support for Japan's efforts to hold the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. She reportedly said the Japanese government "has stressed that public health remains the central priority as they plan to host the Games" and that President Biden "proudly supports U.S. athletes." Psaki was also shown saying that the U.S. delegation is "one of the very limited categories of U.S. travelers that are actually planning on going to Japan for the Olympics."

Several networks also reported that Olympic Minister Marukawa reiterated her view that the latest U.S. travel advisory update will not affect the Tokyo Games by saying: "The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee has released a statement saying that it will not affect the participation of U.S. athletes. The White House press secretary has also made that clear, so I don't think it will affect the Games. I guess the U.S. side is surprised by the commotion."

US envoy in Japan visits Taiwanese representative (NHK WORLD)

U.S., Taiwan top envoys in Japan hold another unprecedented meeting (Kyodo News)

Call for release of Japan-based Chinese scholar (NHK WORLD)

Uniqlo says ‘no direct deal’ with entity in China’s Xinjiang area (Nikkei Asia)

Japan to provide $10 bn support for ASEAN’s decarbonization (Nikkei Asia)

78 pct in S. Korea want govt efforts to mend ties with Japan, Korea Economic Research Institute survey (Jiji Press)

Only some 17% in S. Korea, 20% in Japan like each other, Korea Economic Research Institute survey (Kyodo News)

Commentary: What was unsaid hovers over the Biden-Moon summit (The Japan Times)

Commentary: How Japan can avoid losing out on the world stage (The Japan Times)

Interview: Pakistan’s top diplomat warns China could fill void left by U.S. (Nikkei Asia)


Chinese Coast Guard ships leave Japanese waters off Senkakus (Sankei)

Equipped with “BeiDou” satellite navigation system, China’s maritime militia pose greater threat (Wedge)

Military might and flashpoints shift from West to East (Nikkei Asia)

INTERVIEW: British carrier deployment chance to signal “global power” (Jiji Press)

Japan arranging dispatch of SDF staff to Tokyo Games (Jiji Press)

LDP strategic headquarters for international order to propose economic security fund (Yomiuri)


Tokyo Games cancellation likely to cost Japan $17 bil. (Kyodo News)

Japanese government to monitor reduction of coal power plants (Yomiuri)

Price of U.S. beef now double 2020 prices (Nikkei)

Japan to disperse data centers to regional areas (The Japan News)

19 countries restricted food exports amid pandemic (Jiji Press)

Tokyo mobile data fee 2nd lowest among 6 world cities: survey (Kyodo News)

Japan’s external assets hit record at end of 2020 (Jiji Press)

Editorial: Public, private sectors must work to reduce cost of generating hydrogen (The Japan News)


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

Govt. to promote greener society, digitization (NHK WORLD)


Japan’s largest farm lender to pour $90bn into ESG projects (Nikkei Asia)

Japan to approve virotherapy drug for 1st time for cancer treatment (The Asahi Shimbun)


Majority of students in Japan happy with online lessons (Jiji Press)


Vaccination for Japanese Olympic athletes to begin on June 1

NHK reported on an announcement by the Japanese Olympic Committee today that the vaccination of about 1,600 Japanese Olympic athletes, coaches, and staff will begin at the National Training Center on June 1. The International Olympic Committee has signed a memorandum of understanding with Pfizer to receive vaccines for Olympic athletes free of charge. The network added that IOC Chairman Bach said more than 80% of the athletes and coaches are expected to be vaccinated before the Games.

Tokyo to formally request extension of state of emergency

All networks reported at noon that the Tokyo government is making arrangements to ask the central government as early as today to extend the COVID-19 state of emergency for the prefecture. NHK said that while the number of new cases in Tokyo is on a downward trend, the weekly average for May 19-25 remained high at 611. As highly contagious variants of COVID-19 are replacing the original virus, Tokyo is strongly concerned that the number of new cases will quickly increase again if the state of emergency is lifted. Tokyo Governor Koike told the press today: "Thanks to the cooperation of eateries and cultural facilities, we are seeing some improvement. However, we have yet to contain the virus and we must also take the progress of vaccination into consideration."

Japan govt in damage control after U.S. travel advisory (Jiji Press)

U.S. advisory on Japan highlights risk of protracted COVID fight (Nikkei Asia)

Japan to impose 10-day quarantine on India, 5 other countries (Kyodo News)

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

Infographic: 726,829 persons in Japan confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 (May 25, 2021) (NHK digital)

Survey: Only 15% of paramedics in Tokyo, 20 major cities have completed vaccination (The Japan News)

Japan births fall 4.7% on COVID baby bust (Nikkei Asia)

Cartoon: Lunar prayer (Tokyo Shimbun)


Japan’s Suga stares down an Olympic challenge (The Japan Times)

Editorial: Prime Minister Suga, please call off the Olympics this summer (The Asahi Shimbun)

Editorial: Authorities must quickly lay out path to safe and secure Olympics (Nikkei Asia)

Japan may not enact LGBT bill soon (Jiji Press)

First a check, now a presidential letter–Japanese seniors confused (Asahi)

Specified skilled workers in Japan increase in March from Dec. (Jiji Press)

Editorial: Balance rehabilitation, punishment under newly revised Juvenile Law (The Japan News)


PFAS detected in soil at nursery school, parks near MCAS Futenma

Ryukyu Shimpo wrote that in response to the incident at MCAS Futenma in April 2020 in which foam extinguisher containing PFAS leaked from the base, the Defense Ministry’s Okinawa bureau surveyed soil at a nursery school and two parks near the base 17 days after the incident and detected PFOS and PFOA in the range of 0.2 to 5.8 nanograms per gram. The paper wrote that while saying the level of contamination at the local facilities might have been affected by the leakage at Futenma, the survey report concluded that it was below the level regarded as harmful to human health.

U.S., Japan agree on return of part of Camp Kinser land (Okinawa Times, Ryukyu Shimpo)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team