Afternoon Alert   -   Thursday, July 15, 2021
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Broadcasters led with reports on Economic Revitalization Minister Nishimura's remarks today reiterating his refusal to step down over the retracted government requests concerning alcohol sales despite calls from the opposition parties to do so (NHK, TBS), the Tokyo District Court's plan to issue a ruling this afternoon on a former senior bureaucrat who was indicted over a fatal car crash in Ikebukuro in 2019 (NTV), Tokyo Governor Koike's remarks to the press this morning encouraging people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 (TV Asahi), and the forecast for heavy rain mainly in western Japan. (Fuji TV).


PM Suga holds talks with U.S.-Japan Business Council chairman

NHK reported online that Prime Minister Suga held a video conference with U.S.-Japan Business Council Chairman Doug Peterson and others for about 30 minutes today. According to the network, Suga said he is committed to realizing a safe and secure Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics by taking thorough anti-virus measures and expressed hope to deliver dreams and inspiration to children through the power of sports. The premier also expressed hope to realize a society where people with disabilities can play an active role through the holding of the Paralympics. On the novel coronavirus, Suga reportedly said Japan has been able to administer one million doses of COVID-19 vaccine per day with the cooperation of American firms and pledged to continue to take all-out measures to swiftly vaccinate the people of Japan. Meanwhile, Chairman Peterson reportedly expressed support for Japan's efforts to hold safe and secure Tokyo Games.

Avigan maker Fujifilm faces China military risk to patent – Approval doubts threaten health care ambitions of Japanese company (Nikkei Asia)

IEEJ to support Qatar in promoting energy efficiency (NIKKEI Business Daily)

Japan watchdog and BOJ to assess banks on anti-money laundering – Global task force to cite regional lenders for inadequate ID verification (Nikkei Asia)

Japan to create integrated copyrights body (Jiji Press)

Japan gov’t panel seeks record 28 yen rise in minimum wage to 930 yen (Kyodo News)


British aircraft carrier reports COVID-19 outbreak

NHK, TBS and Jiji reported that according to reports by the British media, an outbreak of COVID-19 has been reported on the British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, which is currently operating in the Indian Ocean as part of a global cruise. TBS reported that while the BBC reported that there have been around 100 cases on the aircraft carrier, the Telegraph reported that there have been about 100 cases among the four vessels, including the aircraft carrier, in the Carrier Strike Group. Defence Secretary Wallace reportedly said all sailors on the four vessels had received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine and the outbreak was being managed. The Japanese media outlets also highlighted the fact that the fleet had only just held joint drills with the MSDF in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia on Sunday and Monday and is scheduled to call at a Japanese port later this year.

US puts Japan Inc. on edge over Xinjiang supply chain risks – Scrutiny grows over indirect suppliers in solar panel materials and apparel (Nikkei Asia)

Quad nations agree to strengthen cooperation over advanced tech (Jiji Press)

Japan to join hands with Vietnam to eradicate pirate websites (Yomiuri)

South China Sea must be governed by transparent laws – Beijing raises tensions by ignoring tribunal ruling and pushing territory claim (Nikkei Asia)


4 China Coast Guard ships enter Japanese waters off Senkakus (Jiji Press)

Gov’t lodges protest with China over intrusion into Japanese territorial waters (Sankei)

U.S. Naval Forces Japan welcomes new commander (Kanagawa Shimbun)

U.S. military in Okinawa plans to release water containing PFOS into sewers (Asahi evening edition)

Change to 12-hour shifts for Japanese guards at US Navy base may violate local labor laws (The Mainichi)

Editorial: China’s self-righteous actions in South China Sea are raising tensions (The Mainichi)


Prime minister’s schedule on July 14, 2021 (Sankei)

Analysis of Suga’s thinking about Lower House election: Will Oct. 17 be election day? (Gendai Business digital)

Five secretaries to LDP’s Kishida-faction lawmakers infected with COVID-19 (Nikkei)

No Cabinet ministers or bureaucrats stopped Nishimura’s announcement of alcohol ban (Mainichi)

Alcohol sales controversy compounds Suga’s political woes (The Japan Times)

Editorial: Carefully examine how to best use budget funds for next fiscal year (The Japan News)


IOC President Bach to receive red carpet treatment in Hiroshima

The regional Chugoku Shimbun reported on IOC President Bach’s planned trip to Hiroshima tomorrow, noting that the municipal government is expected to roll out the red carpet for him by partially closing off the Peace Memorial Park to ensure that he can pray for global peace in a quiet environment. He will be greeted by Mayor Matsui, Governor Yuzaki, the leaders of prefectural and municipal assemblies, and some atomic bomb survivors. This will be the fourth time for the municipality to restrict public entry to the park for visiting dignitaries, including President Obama in 2016 and Pope Francis in 2019. The restriction will be imposed to strike a balance between “the significance of the IOC leader issuing a message of peace and the need to ensure security,” in the words of a Hiroshima government spokesperson. The daily noted that all the messages regarding the visit received by the city from citizens objected to Bach’s coming to Hiroshima.

Separation of foreign athletes from general population difficult (Sankei)

Two silver medals? Questions abound with Tokyo Olympics 1 week out – Officials scramble on playbook for COVID-positive athletes (Nikkei Asia)

Japanese expats return from virus-hit Indonesia on chartered plane (Kyodo News)

Editorial: Japan should join the world movement to end the death penalty (The Asahi Shimbun)

Japan High Court recognizes “Black Rain” victims as Hibakusha (Jiji Press)


MHLW to approve use of Moderna vaccine for children aged 12 or older

NHK, NTV, and Fuji TV reported that the Health Ministry has decided to approve the use of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 12 and older after Moderna submitted the results of a study confirming the safety of administering the vaccine to children aged 12 to 17. Fuji TV said that the ministry will hold a meeting of health experts on July 18 and officially approve the use of the Moderna vaccine for adolescents.

Number of seriously ill COVID-19 patients drops below 400 for first time since April 1

TV Asahi reported at noon that according to the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare, the number of seriously ill COVID-19 patients in Japan was 396 as of July 14. The network said this is the first time for the figure to dip below 400 since April 1.

No. of seriously ill COVID-19 patients in 50s surges in Tokyo (Sankei)

Japan can complete coronavirus vaccinations by Nov.: Kono (Jiji Press)

Delivery of Pfizer jabs to be cut 10% in Osaka, Tokyo’s Setagaya, more (The Asahi Shimbun)

Infographic: Five COVID-19 indicators for 11 key prefectures (July 13, 2021) (NHK digital)

Infographic: Status of gov’t indicators for COVID-19 in Tokyo (July 14, 2021) (Tokyo Shimbun)

Infographic: 828,379 persons in Japan confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 (July 14, 2021) (NHK digital)


GOJ official hopes PFAS-contaminated water will be diluted to safe level before being discharged

Ryukyu Shimpo wrote that Ginowan Mayor Matsukawa held a meeting with Prime Minister Suga, Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato, and Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Sugita at the Kantei on Wednesday. Concerning the U.S. military’s plan to release wastewater contaminated with PFAS from MCAS Futenma into a local public sewage facility outside the base, Sugita reportedly said that the chemicals in the water must be diluted to a level at which the municipality can be certain based on science that the discharge will cause no health problems. While saying that it is troubling that there are no definite standards for the release of wastewater, the mayor said that it may become necessary for the city government to study the possibility of allowing the contaminated water to be discharged into sewers if the Ministry of Environment or another entity confirms that the PFOS [sic] can be removed by the method used by the U.S. military.

Okinawa Marines acknowledges container fell in waters outside designated area (Okinawa Times, Ryukyu Shimpo)

Okinawa USAF serviceman found guilty over smuggling LSD (Ryukyu Shimpo)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team