Afternoon Alert   -   Thursday, June 24, 2021
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Noon news

Broadcasters led with reports on the final edition of the anti-Chinese newspaper Apple Daily published this morning in Hong Kong (NHK, TV Asahi), the possibility of the GOJ using the AstraZeneca vaccine for workplace vaccination programs (TBS) and Typhoon Champi, which is expected to approach the Ogasawara Islands over the weekend (NTV, Fuji TV).


Japan protests Russia’s military drills in Northern Territories

NHK reported at noon that the Russian military announced it is conducting large-scale military drills on the islands of Etorofu and Kunashiri of the Northern Territories from June 23 to 27. The network said more than 10,000 soldiers, up to 500 military vehicles, about 30 airplanes, and about 10 vessels are expected to participate in the drills, adding that Russia's military drills are intended to indicate that the Northern Territories belong to Russia and to keep the United States in check. MOFA reportedly told the network that the director of the Russia Division lodged a protest with the Russian Embassy in Tokyo on Wednesday afternoon. Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato told the press this morning: "We are closely monitoring and collecting information on the Russian military's moves on the Northern Territories. We lodged a protest yesterday through our diplomatic channel saying that Russia's military buildup on the Northern Territories, including such military drills, is incompatible with our position and unacceptable.... Although I am not in a position to comment on Russia's intention to hold such drills, it is important to resolve the issue of the Northern Territories. The government will continue to tenaciously negotiate with Russia in line with the basic policy of resolving the territorial issue and concluding a peace treaty."

Top U.S. military official says China unlikely to invade Taiwan in immediate future

TV Asahi reported at noon that Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during a congressional hearing on Wednesday that China has no military capability or political intent to attack Taiwan in the next year or two. According to the network, Gen. Milley said that competition with China must be maintained as competition and should not be escalated into a conflict. Chairman Milley also reportedly pointed out that although China does not have the capability to seize Taiwan militarily within the next year or two, it may acquire such a capability in the next six to ten years.

Russia begins drills on Japan-claimed islands (NHK WORLD)

Biden tweets support for transgender soccer player Yokoyama (Kyodo News)

Mystery of the Diet’s avoidance of condemning China (Sankei)

Commentary: U.S. policy on DPRK casts shadow over resolution of abductions issue (Sankei)

N. Korea reiterates reluctance to hold bilateral talks with U.S. (Kyodo News)

S. Korean appeals court to hear “comfort women” case in November (Kyodo News)

U.S. North Korea policy focuses on China deterrence: Watabe Tsuneo (Mainichi)

Editorial: China’s media crackdown in Hong Kong is beyond comprehension (Nikkei Asia)

Commentary: China’s ‘guochao’ nationalism (The Japan Times)

INTERVIEW: Japanese aide vows to support WTO head on reform (Jiji Press)


National Police Agency to open “cyber bureau”

NHK and TV Asahi reported at noon that the National Police Agency has decided to open a "cyber bureau" next fiscal year to respond to cyberattacks since they are becoming increasingly serious. The networks said the new bureau will be established to strengthen the system of collecting and analyzing information on cyberattacks and promote cooperation with the police nationwide. In addition, the agency is also planning to set up a new unit in charge of major cybercrimes made up of about 200 officers with special expertise. NHK said although each prefectural police force has been investigating cybercrimes individually, the agency is hoping that setting up a new bureau under the government will promote Japan's cooperation with other nations as well as improve its investigation techniques.

Two Chinese ships leave Japanese territorial waters near Senkakus (Sankei)

MOD reconsiders use of live ammunition in GSDF joint exercises (Asahi)

Commentary: Time for Japan to concede South Korea has better defense strategy (Nikkei Asia)

Ceremony marks 76 years since Battle of Okinawa ended (The Japan News)

Okinawa marks 76th anniversary of the Battle of Okinawa (The Asahi Shimbun)

Editorial: 76 years after war, Okinawa continues to be trampled upon (The Asahi Shimbun)

Editorial: Develop dialogue on reducing Okinawa’s base-hosting burden (The Japan News)

Editorial: Okinawa Memorial Day a reminder to reflect on historical pain (The Mainichi)

PFOS, PFOA exceed benchmark values at 21 sites in 12 prefectures (Asahi)


TEPCO begins process to scrap Fukushima No. 2 nuclear plant (The Asahi Shimbun)

Shimane nuclear reactor clears regulatory screenings for restart (Jiji Press)

80 companies consider economic security a key issue, Asahi survey of 100 leading companies (Asahi)

Pertamina, Japanese firms join hands for low-carbon tech research (Kyodo News)

Kuroda briefs Suga on BOJ’s coronavirus steps (Jiji Press)


Prime minister’s schedule on June 23, 2021 (Sankei)

Abe, Aso support Suga gov’t with eye to new LDP leadership (Nikkei digital)

People and money gravitate to Nikai, LDP’s longest serving secretary-general (Nikkei)

EXCLUSIVE: Yano to become new Japan vice minister of finance (Jiji Press)

EXCLUSIVE: Kaide to become Japan vice reconstruction minister (Jiji Press)

LDP rejects opposition demand for deliberations on “Akagi file” (Jiji Press)


METI to invest 10 billion yen in advanced semiconductors for post-5G era (Nikkei)


In unusual move, MEXT holds meeting to explain gov’t stance on term “military comfort women” (Asahi)


More than 50% of elderly have received first dose of COVID-19 vaccine

NHK reported this afternoon that according to data released by the government today, 51.09% of people aged 65 or older in Japan had received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 17.51% had received their second dose as of June 23, about two months after the start of vaccination. The network added that the government believes that all elderly people who wish to be inoculated will be fully vaccinated by the end of July. Among the 47 prefectures, Saga ranked highest in percentage of elderly who had been vaccinated as of yesterday, with 68.33% receiving their first dose and 29.25% receiving their second dose. In Tokyo, 51.77% had received their first dose and 17.88% had received their second dose.

Infographic: Five COVID-19 indicators for 11 key prefectures (June 22, 2021) (NHK digital)

Infographic: Status of gov’t indicators for COVID-19 in Tokyo (June 23, 2021) (Tokyo Shimbun)

Infographic: 790,025 persons in Japan confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 (June 23, 2021) (NHK digital)


A quarter of ticket holders to lose place at Tokyo Games (The Japan Times)

Japan’s top court says forcing couples to share surname constitutional (Kyodo News)

Harris, Merkel and Ardern: Japanese women ask what about us? (Nikkei Asia)

Will the Olympics be ‘safe and secure’ or a superspreader event? (Nikkei Asia)

Tokyo Olympics draws near, but enthusiasm lacking (Jiji Press)

One-month countdown to Olympics sees mixed emotions (The Asahi Shimbun)


Alerts don’t spoil story for surprise-averse Generation Z (Business Insider Japan)

As Kyodai’s signboards vanish, so does its tradition of dissent and liberty (Asahi, Mainichi, Yomiuri)

Manga spins ultimate fantasy, a Japanese government led by women (Mainichi)


Governor Tamaki doesn’t call for cancellation of FRF construction at Henoko at Irei no Hi Ceremony

Okinawa Times and Ryukyu Shimpo ran extensive reports on the ceremony for the "Irei no Hi" Okinawa Memorial Day on Wednesday that was held at the Peace Memorial Park in Mabuni, Itoman. In a peace declaration delivered at the ceremony, Governor Tamaki called on the U.S. and Japanese governments to make efforts to reduce the base-hosting burden on Okinawa in a visible way and not to insist on the idea that Henoko is the only option. The papers wrote that the governor did not explicitly call for the cancellation of the ongoing construction of the Futenma Replacement Facility at Henoko, pointing out that this was the second year for Tamaki not to call for cancellation. Okinawa Times wrote that Tamaki told reporters after the ceremony that he used language that would be acceptable for a wide range of people, including children, the elderly, and people outside Okinawa, and would not provoke conflict in the hope that his peace declaration would touch the hearts of these people. A prefectural assembly member told the paper that the governor failed to express his determination not to accept the base-hosting burden.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team