Afternoon Alert   -   Monday, August 16, 2021
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All TV networks gave top play to the forecast for more heavy rain in Kyushu through tomorrow.


U.S. releases joint statement on Afghanistan with Japan, other countries

NHK reported on its noon news program that the Taliban declared victory in the fight against the Afghan government forces on Monday morning and President Ghani has left the country as his administration has effectively lost control. The network said the U.S. government, together with about 60 nations, including Japan and the UK, released a joint statement on Sunday. The statement said: “Those in positions of power and authority across Afghanistan bear responsibility—and accountability—for the protection of human life and property, and for the immediate restoration of security and civil order… The Afghan people deserve to live in safety, security and dignity.”

NHK also reported that the U.S. government has authorized another 1,000 troops to help speed up the evacuation of U.S. citizens and local staff of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan after the Taliban took effective control of Kabul. The State Department and Pentagon issued a joint statement on Sunday saying they will expand their security presence to nearly 6,000 troops over the next 48 hours. The troops will be taking over air traffic control to facilitate the safe departure of thousands of U.S. citizens who reside in Afghanistan. Afghan translators and other locally employed staff who worked for the U.S. mission will also be transferred out of the country with their families. The State Department said U.S. Embassy staff have all evacuated to the international airport in Kabul.

The broadcaster said that Secretary of State Blinken sent a warning to the Taliban by saying that any effort by them to attack U.S. forces or interrupt their operations would be met with a very strong, decisive response. Noting that the Biden administration had previously ordered 1,000 additional troops on Saturday to help evacuate embassy personnel, the network said that Washington is being required to make additional efforts following the virtual collapse of the Afghan government.


U.S.-ROK joint drills begin amid DPRK’s protests

NHK reported that the United States and South Korea have begun their regular joint military exercises amid strong protests by North Korea. According to South Korean military officials, the joint exercises kicked off on Monday morning and will continue through Aug. 26. The drills, which are based on the scenario of a contingency on the Korean Peninsula, are expected to involve computer simulations instead of live-fire training.

South Korea's Yonhap News Agency speculated that the ROK military used a restrained tone in its announcement of the start of the drills mainly due to strong protests from Pyongyang. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's sister, Kim Yo Jong, demanded in a statement released earlier this month that the United States and South Korea cancel the joint exercises regardless of their scale or form. Washington and Seoul are closely watching moves by North Korea, as South Korean media have warned of the possibility of Pyongyang taking steps against the U.S.-ROK drills.

Chinese ships spotted near Senkakus for seventh consecutive day (Sankei digital)

AI-aided surveillance system eyed to monitor suspicious ships (The Japan News)

Huge port facilities to be built on Mage Island (Akahata)

Japan to revise 5-yr defense plan ahead of schedule, eyeing China (Kyodo News)


Japanese economy expands slightly in April-June period

All broadcasters took up the Cabinet Office's announcement this morning that the nation’s GDP increased by an annualized rate of 1.3% in the second quarter of this year thanks to moderate increases in exports and capital spending. However, as personal spending was almost flat partly due to the prolonged COVID-19 state of emergency, the overall growth rate remained lackluster. Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Nishimura expressed optimism about the economic outlook for the latter half of this year in anticipation of the rapid vaccine rollout and the consequent relaxation of various restrictions on economic activities. “Japan’s potential for economic recovery is strong,” he was quoted as saying. “We are expecting robust ‘revenge consumption’” once the pandemic has been contained.

ACCJ president Jenifer Rogers promotes women’s advancement in the Japanese business world (The Japan News)

Nearly 30% of Japan firms to boost investment for decarbonization (Kyodo News)

Mitsubishi UFJ joins steering group of net-zero alliance (Jiji Press)

MOE, FSA to create system to measure greenhouse gas emissions (Nikkei)

Toyota, Nissan, others tie up to protect cars from cyberattack (Nikkei Asia)

EV makers confront risk of runaway prices for battery metals (Nikkei Asia)

Japan sours as premium grape widely copied in China, South Korea (Nikkei Asia)

Blockchain market for captured carbon eyed by Mitsubishi Heavy (Nikkei Asia)

Japanese are working less and less, survey finds (Nikkei Asia)

Chinese companies rush to buy up cotton stockpiles, stirring concerns of illegal exporting (Nikkei)


Prime minister’s schedule on Aug. 13, 2021 (Sankei)

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

Prime minister’s schedule on Aug. 15, 2021 (Sankei digital)

Main events scheduled for Aug. 16-22 (Kyodo News)

Time is tight for Kono and his goal to shift political landscape (Nikkei Asia)

Suga adviser resigns following golf scandal report (Jiji Press)

LDP, Okinawa at odds over development plan (Yomiuri)


Suga Cabinet approval rate stays below 30 pct, Jiji poll (Jiji Press)

Over 60 pct prefer Paralympics without spectators, Jiji poll (Jiji Press)

Over 80 pct in Japan positive about vaccinations, Jiji poll (Jiji Press)


Japan robotics venture shoots for world’s 1st commercial lunar exploration (The Japan News)

Editorial: Climate change report a wakeup call for nations to work together (The Mainichi)


GOJ likely to expand areas covered by COVID-19 state of emergency

NHK and TV-Asahi reported that the GOJ plans to hold a meeting this evening among cabinet ministers involved in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, projecting that they are likely to decide to place additional prefectures under a state of emergency or quasi-state of emergency in view of the relentless rise in infections nationwide. The Shizuoka government decided earlier today to urge the central government to place the prefecture under a state of emergency after it reported a record 394 cases on Sunday.

Editorial: Japan govt’s baseless optimism caused unprecedented virus 5th wave (The Mainichi)

Editorial: Step up medical response to pandemic to reduce recuperation at home (The Japan News)

Few countries accept Japan’s vaccination certificates (The Japan News)

Infographic: Five COVID-19 indicators for 19 key prefectures (Aug. 12, 2021) (NHK digital)

Infographic: 1,148,601 persons in Japan confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 (Aug. 15, 2021) (NHK digital)

Tokyo area COVID-19 outbreak exacerbated by medical staff shortages (The Japan Times)


Japan’s emperor expresses deep remorse on war anniversary (Jiji Press)

EXCLUSIVE: Japanese group suspends overseas war memorial trips (Jiji Press)

Editorial: Marking WWII’s end, face changes in situation to maintain peace / Enhance defense system to avoid contingencies (The Japan News)

50,000 signatures collected for truth on Sri Lankan woman (Jiji Press)


Okinawa reacts sharply to parts falling off Osprey mid-flight

Saturday’s Okinawa Times and Ryukyu Shimpo gave top play to reports on an incident in which a panel and a fairing (external component) fell off a Futenma-based MV-22 Osprey at around 9:30 p.m. on Thursday when it was flying between the Northern Training Area and the Futenma Air Station. The papers wrote that the U.S. military did not notify the GOJ of the incident until Friday evening, adding that the exact point of impact is not yet known. The military also reportedly told the Japanese side that no injuries or property damage were reported.

The papers reported on Sunday that Okinawa Governor Tamaki released a statement on the incident on Saturday. The governor said: “I am very angry about the frequent aircraft incidents. The anxiety and anger of the people of Okinawa are growing. The U.S. military’s notification system is insufficient in view of crisis management. The latest incidents show that there has been no change in the situation at MCAS Futenma since a Futenma-based helicopter crashed on the campus of Okinawa International University 17 years ago.”

Sunday’s Ryukyu Shimpo wrote that the U.S. Marines reportedly told the paper on Saturday that they discovered that the parts were missing from the Osprey when it returned to Futenma. The Marines also reportedly said the aircraft flew over the ocean for most of the flight and that its crew were unable to confirm that the parts were falling.

III MEF’s posting of image of helicopter on Twitter provokes sharp reaction (Okinawa Times, Ryukyu Shimpo)

Marines participate in beach cleanup (Okinawa Times)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team