Afternoon Alert   -   Tuesday, August 17, 2021
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All broadcasters led with a new Meteorological Agency warning for potential floods and mudslides in western Japan due to the prolonged heavy rain.


President Biden defends decision to pull troops out of Afghanistan

All TV networks reported on President Biden’s address on Monday concerning the Taliban’s seizure of Afghanistan, highlighting his remarks that he does not regret his decision to recall all U.S. troops by the end of August. The President admitted that the Afghan government collapsed in response to the Taliban offensive more quickly than he anticipated. However, he justified his decision to no longer station the U.S. military there by saying: “American troops cannot, and should not, be fighting in a war, and dying in a war, that the Afghans are not willing to fight for themselves.”

NHK took up the U.S. leader’s statement vowing to defend the basic rights of Afghan men and women through diplomatic, economic, and other means in cooperation with the international community, speculating that by underscoring the administration’s unwavering commitment to supporting the local people's human rights, he was perhaps anxious to dodge mounting criticism that what some have called a precipitous drawdown allowed the Taliban, which allegedly disregards democratic values, to take over.

China chides U.S. for hasty troop withdrawal from Afghanistan (Kyodo News)

Opinion: Foreign Minister Motegi’s Israel visit a historic opportunity for Japan (Nikkei Asia)

Editorial: World must not abandon Afghanistan as Taliban regain control (The Japan News)

Japan, Egypt share concerns over Afghan situation (Jiji Press)

Western nations’ labeling of NSS chief Akiba as pro-China causes confusion for Japan gov’t officials (Sentaku)

Japan to send emergency supplies to quake-hit Haiti (Kyodo News)

Suga sends condolences to Haitian PM over earthquake (Jiji Press)


Chinese ships spotted near Senkakus for eighth consecutive day (Sankei)


LDP’s Seki: Create fund to support semiconductor industry (Nikkei)

Delta surge clouds hopes for Japan GDP recovery (Nikkei Asia)

Even after pandemic, Japan’s labor market faces shortages and mismatches (The Japan Times)

Japan’s Shizuoka Gas to enter natural gas supply business in Thailand (Kyodo News)


Prime minister’s schedule on Aug. 16, 2021 (Sankei)

Opposition shows understanding for “political truce,” calls for convening extraordinary Diet session (Asahi)

LDP’s support rate is fourfold that of main opposition party (Nikkei)

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

Suga borrows from Abe’s playbook in war memorial speech (The Asahi Shimbun)

Weeklies predict the outcome of the Lower House election (Tokyo Shimbun)

Japan digital agency to be launched; info leak concerns linger (Jiji Press)


Suga Cabinet’s support rate drops to record-low 31.8%, Kyodo News poll (Kyodo News)

Kyodo News opinion poll & results from Tokyo Shimbun (Tokyo Shimbun)

73% opposed to having integrated resort in Yokohama, Kanagawa Shimbun poll (Kanagawa Shimbun)


A room with a lunar view: Japan eyes remote construction on the moon (Nikkei Asia)

Editorial: Will China take heed of the U.N. panel’s climate change report? (Japan Forward)


Experts’ panel endorses plan to expand COVID-19 state of emergency

NHK reported that the GOJ coronavirus taskforce subcommittee endorsed earlier today the Suga administration’s plan to place Ibaraki, Tochigi, Shizuoka, and four other prefectures under a state of emergency and ten other prefectures under a quasi-state of emergency from Aug. 20 through Sept. 12. In explaining the reasons for the expanded state of emergency, Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Nishimura stressed that the magnitude of the ongoing outbreak is extraordinary and that the administration shares public health professionals’ view that the current infection situation is equivalent to a massive natural disaster in that the healthcare system is under heavy strain. The minister called for people to stay home, pointing out that numerous cluster infections have been detected at department stores, cram schools, and beauty salons. He underscored the need to limit the number of customers visiting department stores, shopping malls, and other large-scale outlets to reduce people’s mobility. Prime Minister Suga will reportedly address the nation at 9 p.m. tonight to enlist public understanding and support for the administration’s renewed efforts to flatten the epidemic curve.

Increasing number of minors infected with COVID-19 during fifth wave

Nikkei reported on a sharp increase in the number of people under 20 years of age being infected with COVID-19 during the ongoing fifth wave of the virus, noting that the overall number of cases among people under 20 years of age is about three times higher than that during the fourth wave in the spring. Many of these minors apparently contracted the virus at school or home. As the respiratory syncytial virus is also spreading rapidly, with many young children being infected, the daily expressed concern about the mounting strain on pediatric healthcare facilities. Educators are also worried about the planned resumption of classes in September, fearing that more cluster infections will occur at school.

Record number of seriously ill COVID-19 patients reported

NHK took up a Health Ministry announcement today that a record 1,646 COVID-19 patients nationwide were diagnosed as suffering from serious symptoms, up 43 from Monday. Serious cases are either connected to ventilators or treated in ICUs.

Suga vows to give antibody treatment to COVID-19 patients at hotels (Jiji Press)

Infographic: Map of COVID countermeasures (Aug. 17, 2021) (NHK digital)

Japan secures doses for COVID-19 booster vaccination: Min. (Jiji Press)

Tokyo scales down COVID-19 epidemiological survey (Jiji Press)

Editorial: Desperate need for hotel rooms for those with mild symptoms (The Asahi Shimbun)

Editorial: As pandemic eerily evokes wartime Japan, gov’t must prioritize lives (The Mainichi)

Infographic: Five COVID-19 indicators for 19 key prefectures (Aug. 15, 2021) (NHK digital)

Infographic: Status of gov’t indicators for COVID-19 in Tokyo (Aug. 16, 2021) (Tokyo Shimbun)

Infographic: 1,163,448 persons in Japan confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 (Aug. 16, 2021) (NHK digital)


Revised law seeks to secure full-time doctors at immigration facilities (Yomiuri)

Editorial: Popular sovereignty still tested 76 years after war (The Asahi Shimbun)

Paralympian from Georgia arrested over assault at Tokyo hotel (Kyodo News)


U.S. military has no plans to ground Ospreys after panel falls off one

Ryukyu Shimpo took up remarks made to the daily on Monday by a local USMC spokesperson regarding the recent mishap in which a panel fell off a Futenma-based MV-22 while it was flying from the Northern Training Area to Futenma. “There is no need to suspend Osprey flights since the cause of the incident appears to be unique to the aircraft in question and not structural. The squadron inspected the same panels on other aircraft of the same model and concluded they were safe.” The official reportedly refused to speculate on the cause of the mishap, saying that any no additional information can be provided for security reasons.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team