Afternoon Alert   -   Thursday, July 29, 2021
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NHK gave top play to the heavy rain in Fukui prefecture, while all commercial broadcasters led with reports on the fifth wave of COVID-19, including the GOJ’s moves to declare a state of emergency for Kanagawa, Chiba, and Saitama.


Taiwan ex-deputy defense minister probed for China spy contacts (Nikkei Asia)

Analysis: China engages in fierce propaganda war during Sherman visit (Nikkei Asia)

As food grows scarce, North Korea accepts South’s olive branch (Nikkei Asia)

No mention of nuclear deterrence by N.Korea leader (NHK WORLD)


Shortage of skilled workers creeping up on nuclear plants (NIKKEI Business Daily)

Apple’s iPhone warning underscores risk of chip shortage into 2022 (Nikkei Asia)

Editorial: Japan must overhaul thinking on nuclear power in basic energy policy (The Mainichi)

BOJ member worried about further downward risks from COVID-19 (Jiji Press)


Chinese ships spotted near Senkakus for first time since July 19 (Sankei)

Okinawa OKs coral transplant from base construction site (Jiji Press)

Memorial honors U.S. bomber crew killed after crash, some as POWs (The Asahi Shimbun)


Prime minister’s schedule on July 28, 2021 (Sankei)

Strength of in-house groups in House of Representatives (Yomiuri)

Gov’t, ruling parties set up new council on COVID-19 (Nikkei)

Suga makes first move, aiming for reelection without voting (Mainichi)

LDP to gear up for leadership election (Jiji Press)

Komeito needs to differentiate itself while maintaining LDP support ahead of election (Asahi)

Interview with Rengo chief regarding the state of Japan’s politics (Sankei)

Pro-nuclear wing of LDP criticizes draft energy plan for omitting rebuilding reactors (Asahi)

LDP proposes Okinawa promotion measures (Yomiuri)

Satsuki Eda, ex-head of Japan’s Upper House, dies at 80 (Jiji Press)


FSA to reinforce measures against “greenwashing” (Nikkei)

MLIT to select 21 model airports to lead in decarbonization measures (Nikkei)

METI moves up carbon recycling roadmap (Yomiuri)


GOJ to reinstate state of emergency for Tokyo’s three neighboring prefectures

All broadcasters reported that the GOJ is likely to declare a fresh COVID-19 state of emergency for Kanagawa, Saitama, and Chiba tomorrow after the governors of the three prefectures file a joint request later today. Although the GOJ was reportedly hesitant up until a few days ago to reinstate the state of emergency on account of the steady vaccine rollout and decrease in the number of seriously ill patients, it was apparently forced to change course in the face of the sudden spike in new cases in Tokyo and the three neighboring prefectures on Tuesday and Wednesday. Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Nishimura suggested at the Diet today that the GOJ would heed the anticipated request for a new state of emergency since the prefectural authorities understand the local infection and healthcare situation better than the central government. Asahi ran a similar story, adding that the state of emergency will also be reinstated for Osaka in response to a strong surge in new cases there.

GOJ coronavirus taskforce chief alarmed by explosive spread of COVID-19

All TV networks highlighted remarks made at the Diet this morning by Chairman Omi of the GOJ coronavirus taskforce subcommittee, who warned that the healthcare capacity in Tokyo will soon be overwhelmed unless people change their behavior immediately. “The current infection situation is the severest by far,” said the nation’s leading epidemiologist. “At this point there are no factors that would help to flatten the epidemic curve, but there are many factors that would cause it to rise further," including the Delta variant, the Olympics, summer holidays, and people “getting used to the pandemic." Underscoring that the “biggest problem is the absence of a shared sense of risk" among the people, he urged the central and Tokyo metropolitan governments to issue strong messages for people to stay home. “Because the GOJ and the organizing committee decided to hold the Games in the face of strong opposition, they are naturally responsible for doing their utmost to prevent infection and the collapse of the healthcare system,” he added.

Olympic committee reports 24 new COVID-19 cases among stakeholders

All TV networks took up the disclosure by the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee today that a single-day record high of 24 people connected to the Games, including three athletes from unspecified countries, tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Wednesday, bringing the total number of Olympic-related cases to 198 since July 1. Seven of the 24 are from overseas.

In a related story, Mainichi reported on press remarks this morning in Tokyo by an IOC spokesperson, who said the ongoing games are not responsible for the sharp rise in infections in the nation's capital. "It's like a parallel world," the official was quoted as saying: "I don't think we are spreading the virus in Tokyo." He added that the Olympic village is "under the strictest lockdown."

Tokyo’s severe cases of COVID shift to those in their 40s and 50s (Nikkei Asia)

Tokyo’s virus surge differs from previous peaks, testing existing measures (The Japan Times)

Infographic: Trend in no. of new cases over the past week in Tokyo Metropolitan Area (Tokyo Shimbun)

Infographic: Five COVID-19 indicators for 11 key prefectures (July 27, 2021) (NHK digital)

Infographic: Status of gov’t indicators for COVID-19 in Tokyo (July 28, 2021) (Tokyo Shimbun)

Infographic: 893,340 persons in Japan confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 (July 28, 2021) (NHK digital)

Editorial: Time to reassess infection situation, switch to more effective measures (The Japan News)

Cartoon: Lengthening queue (Asahi)


Enthusiasm for Tokyo Games deemed by some as harassment (Jiji Press)

10,000 origami cranes adorn Tokyo Olympic venues (Jiji Press)

Tokyo Games organizers sorry for confusion at ceremony (Jiji Press)

Editorial: Japan gov’t must provide full support following ‘black rain’ ruling (The Mainichi)

Editorial: Government should do right by hibakusha as court dictated (The Asahi Shimbun)

‘Golgo 13’ tops Guinness World Record for most manga (The Asahi Shimbun)


Okinawa to dismiss GOJ request for FRF design change

Thursday’s Okinawa Times front-paged a speculative piece claiming that the prefectural government is inclined to reject in mid-August the request filed by the Defense Ministry for the governor’s authorization of a change to the design of the Futenma replacement facility to be constructed off Camp Schwab. As the design change involves engineering work to reinforce the soft seabed in the vicinity so that the massive structure can be built there, the daily said a rejection would make it impossible for the ministry to continue the construction.

According to the article, Governor Tamaki told the press yesterday that although he has authorized a separate application from the ministry to transplant some 25,000 coral reef colonies in the area in accordance with a recent Supreme Court ruling, this permit may be revoked in the future if it becomes clear that the landfill cannot be completed for any reason, including the discovery of the soft seabed. The daily wrote that while the Defense Ministry is optimistic that the permit for coral reef transplantation will clear the way for the start of FRF seawall construction, the prefectural government is still determined to employ every possible means available to thwart the project.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team