Afternoon Alert   -   Friday, August 20, 2021
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Broadcasters led with reports on a temporary system failure at Mizuho Bank this morning that prevented its branch counters across Japan from conducting transactions (NHK, NTV, Fuji TV), the expansion of the state of emergency to cover 13 prefectures (TBS), and Chiba University Hospital's decision to establish a new facility for COVID-19 patients who are pregnant (TV Asahi).


DOS official clarifies President Biden’s remark on Taiwan

NHK and Yomiuri took up remarks made by President Biden during an ABC interview in which he suggested that the U.S. would defend Taiwan just like it would defend NATO, Japan, or South Korea if it were attacked. “We made a sacred commitment to Article 5 that if in fact anyone were to invade or take action against our NATO allies, we would respond. Same with Japan, same with South Korea, same with Taiwan.” The reports said the reference to Taiwan was controversial since the U.S. has no treaty obligation to defend the island territory and it represented a deviation from the long-held U.S. position of “strategic ambiguity” about a U.S. response to a cross-strait contingency. State Department spokesperson Price reportedly clarified the President’s remark later by saying the U.S. position has not changed. Yomiuri speculated that the U.S. leader appeared to have "misspoken."

U.S. asked Japan to deploy SDF to Afghanistan

Fuji TV reported online this morning on the finding that the United States has requested Japan's cooperation in evacuating embassy officials and civilians from Afghanistan. According to the network, a diplomatic source said that the U.S. government has asked Japan to help evacuate civilians from Afghanistan and that the two nations have been discussing the possibility of Japan deploying SDF troops there.

Chaotic Afghan exit compels Japan to rethink reliance on U.S. security (Nikkei Asia)

Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Andy Li pleads guilty (Kyodo News)

Editorial: Taliban’s pledge to govern fairly cannot be taken at face value (The Asahi Shimbun)

Opinion: Japan, Taiwan shared deep emotion through Tokyo Olympics (Sankei)

Editorial: Science labs are the new front line of competition with a rising China (The Japan News)

Cartoon: Raising the white flag (Tokyo Shimbun)


Chinese ships entered and exited Japan’s territorial waters near Senkakus on Aug. 19 (Sankei)

JCG to deploy largest-class patrol ship to Ishigaki office (The Japan News)


IAEA to start review of Fukushima water release in Sept. (Jiji Press)

Exports of Fukushima farm products on recovery, overcoming radiation rumors (Jiji Press)

Shionogi plans clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccine in Southeast Asia (Sankei)

Japan panel calls for steps against tax evasion by IT giants (Jiji Press)

UA Zensen President Matsuura emerges as likely candidate for next Rengo chief (Yomiuri)

Japanese government gives teeth to revised Whistleblower Protection Law (The Japan News)

Editorial: Will power generation with ammonia play a leading role in decarbonization? (The Japan News)


Prime minister’s schedule on August 19, 2021 (Sankei)

Kishida signals eagerness to run in LDP leadership race (Jiji Press)

Japan may hold Lower House Election without dissolution (Jiji Press)

Suga on the ropes: Japan mayoral race bellwether for re-election bid (Nikkei Asia)

Deputy CCS Sugita hospitalized for medical checkup (Sankei)

Harassment of female candidates by voters (Asahi)


JAXA plans to collect sample from Martian moon (NHK WORLD)


GOJ not planning to call for across-the-board school closures in September

NHK took up remarks made to the press this morning by Education Minister Hagiuda on the growing number of COVID-19 cases among minors in the prefectures currently under a state of emergency or quasi-state of emergency. He stressed that the ministry has no intention to call for nationwide school closures when the summer break ends in many parts of the country. He added that school closures should be considered on a local basis since the infection situation and healthcare capacities vary.

More than 50 million people in Japan have received second COVID-19 shot

Fuji TV reported at noon that according to a government source, the number of people who had received their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine exceeded 50 million in Japan as of Aug. 19, bringing the vaccination rate to about 40%. The network added that the government disclosed on Aug. 18 that more than half the population of Japan have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

Fake COVID-origin news floods China as officials turn blind eye (Nikkei Asia)

29 People in Japan to receive aid over vaccine health damage (Jiji Press)

Tokyo medical institute to start COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials in 2022 (Sankei)

40 prefectures now at ‘explosive growth’ in new virus infections (The Asahi Shimbun)

Japan to release details about Lambda variant infections (The Asahi Shimbun)

Infographic: Trend in new COVID-19 cases nationwide (NHK digital)

Infographic: Five COVID-19 indicators for 29 key prefectures (Aug. 18, 2021) (NHK digital)

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

Infographic: 1,232,459 persons in Japan confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 (Aug. 19, 2021) (NHK digital)

Editorial: Industries hard-hit by pandemic need sufficient policy support (The Asahi Shimbun)


Interviews of Musashi warship crew members posted online (The Asahi Shimbun)

95% of Paralympic programs in Japan affected by COVID-19 spike (Kyodo News)


Objects that fell off U.S. military aircraft larger than initially described

Ryukyu Shimpo and Okinawa Times reported on the finding that the two components that fell off a Futenma-based MV-22 in Okinawa on Aug.12 turned out to be larger than the U.S. military originally explained. The panel that had been attached to the roof of the cockpit was 109 cm by 68 cm and the blade fairing was 43 cm by 43 cm. Both were much larger than initially estimated. Futenma authorities allegedly explained that more accurate data was provided to the Okinawa Defense Bureau on Aug. 18 as soon as it became available. Local officials, including Vice Governor Jahana and Ginowan Mayor Matsugawa, were displeased with what they regarded as “careless and delayed” reporting on the mishap by the U.S. military, with the prefectural official filing a protest with the defense bureau and the MOFA Okinawa office yesterday calling for the suspension of all Osprey flight training until the cause of the incident has been determined.

New SDF missile unit to be deployed on main island of Okinawa (Ryukyu Shimpo)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team