Afternoon Alert   -   Monday, August 23, 2021
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Broadcasters gave top play to reports on the results of yesterday's Yokohama mayoral election in which a candidate backed by PM Suga suffered a major defeat, PM Suga's comment today that he still plans to run in the LDP presidential election (NHK, NTV, TBS, Fuji TV), and the number of seriously ill COVID-19 patients in Japan reaching 1,898 as of Sunday (TV Asahi).


SDF aircraft to depart for Afghanistan early this evening

All networks reported that Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato told the press this morning that the Japanese government decided during a meeting of the National Security Council this morning to send three SDF transport aircraft to Afghanistan to evacuate Japanese nationals working at international organizations and local hires of the Japanese Embassy in Kabul. Kato reportedly said: "We will send C-130 transport aircraft and SDF troops and begin the airlift as soon as coordination is complete." According to the reports, a C2 transport plane will leave for Afghanistan early this evening, and two C-130 transport planes will leave for the nation tomorrow.

PM Suga to join G7 online summit on Afghanistan

NHK reported that Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato announced today that Prime Minister Suga will attend an online meeting of the G7 leaders on Afghanistan to be held on Tuesday evening. Kato reportedly explained that the G7 leaders will discuss how to respond to such urgent issues as evacuating people from Afghanistan and providing humanitarian assistance to the nation. Kato reportedly said: "It is extremely significant for the G7 leaders to confirm cooperation when the situation in Afghanistan is reaching an extremely critical phase. Japan will actively participate in the discussion."

Biden nominates ex-Obama aide Emanuel as U.S. ambassador to Japan (Kyodo News)

Biden to nominate ex-Chicago mayor as U.S. amb. to Japan (Jiji Press)

Biden formally nominates Rahm Emanuel to be U.S. ambassador to Japan (The Japan Times)

Russian man swims from Kunashiri to Hokkaido perhaps in search of asylum (Asahi digital)

Japan refuses to issue visas for military-backed Myanmar diplomats (Kyodo News)

Editorial: Japan should play role in ensuring regional stability in Middle East (The Japan News)

Motegi visits Iraq, offers yen loans (Jiji Press)

Japan, Jordan foreign ministers hold talks (Jiji Press)

Japan, Turkey to launch maritime dialogue (Jiji Press)

Editorial: The Taliban say they’ve changed; now they must prove it (The Japan Times)

Commentary: Blaming Biden will not help the Afghans still at risk (The Japan Times)

Editorial: China eroding Hong Kong’s status as international financial center (The Japan News)

Transcript: Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s interview with Nikkei (Nikkei Asia)


Suga’s re-election becoming increasingly uncertain

All networks reported at noon on the results of the Yokohama mayoral race on Sunday, in which former cabinet member Okonogi Hachiro, who was backed by Prime Minister Suga, suffered a major defeat. Fuji TV said that Okonogi's defeat sent shockwaves through the LDP, with some beginning to fear that they will not be able to win the upcoming Lower House election under the leadership of Suga. The network said the scenario of Suga winning the LDP presidency uncontested is beginning to unravel, quoting a senior LDP member as saying: "The possibility of [Suga] winning the party presidency without a vote in September has disappeared."

On the Yokohama mayoral race, Prime Minister Suga reportedly told the press this morning: "The results were very regrettable. The citizens of Yokohama voted on the basis of the novel coronavirus and other issues. I will sincerely accept the results." Fuji TV said although the premier expressed his frustration over the results of the mayoral race, an LDP source expressed alarm by saying: "Nothing seemed to work. This is the result of the public’s frustration and criticism of the government's handling of the novel coronavirus." The network added that there is a growing view among the LDP that dissolving the Lower House for a snap election in September has become difficult, saying that LDP lawmakers, especially young and middle-ranking members, are becoming increasingly wary of having Suga as the election figurehead. The network said LDP policy chief Shimomura, former Internal Affairs Minister Takaichi, and former LDP policy chief Kishida are making final preparations to run for the LDP leadership race, saying that Suga's re-election is becoming increasingly uncertain.

Prime minister’s schedule on Aug. 20, 2021 (Sankei)

Prime minister’s schedule on Aug. 21, 2021 (Sankei)

Prime minister’s schedule on Aug. 22, 2021 (Sankei)

Main events scheduled for Aug. 23-29 (Kyodo News)

Schedule of major political events (Yomiuri)

Senior Nippon Ishin member hints at partial alliance with ruling camp (Sankei)

Focus: Election setback seen eroding support for Suga in LDP (Jiji Press)

Ruling, opposition parties gearing up for lower house election in pandemic (The Japan News)

Commentary: Private sector key to the success of Japan’s digital agency (The Japan Times)


Public support for Suga Cabinet down to 32.1%

Fuji TV reported on the results of its opinion survey conducted over the weekend, which found that public support for the Suga Cabinet dropped 6.9 points from last month to 32.1%. Nonsupport was 61.3%. On the government's handling of the new coronavirus, 22.7% expressed approval, while 70.4% expressed disapproval. A total of 28.4% said the state of emergency declaration being extended to cover 13 prefectures and the quasi-state of emergency expanded to cover 16 prefectures were "very effective" or "somewhat effective," while 70.4% said they were "not so effective" or "not at all effective." As many as 61.0% said the state of emergency should be expanded nationwide. In addition, 73.6% said laws should be amended to allow a lockdown. As for the vaccination rollout, 29.3% said it is proceeding smoothly, while 67.5% said it is not. In addition, 29.4% thought the virus will be under control if the vaccination gets underway, while 64.6% thought otherwise. When asked how long Prime Minister Suga should remain the leader, 19.9% said he should be replaced immediately, 48.2% said until the LDP presidential election to be held by the end of September, 20.9% said for a certain period of time after the LDP presidential race, and 7.0% said as long as possible.


Chinese ships spotted near Senkakus for 14th consecutive day (Sankei)

Simultaneous NEO from Taiwan and Sakishima Islands would be challenge for SDF (Sankei)

Japan missile plan on Ishigaki island helps boost Taiwan defense – Tokyo fears attack on democratic island could spread to Nansei island chain – (Nikkei Asia)

Editorial: Okinawa’s lament: a lone voice in the wilderness (The Asahi Shimbun)

U.S. military’s distancing from rape case suspect riles Okinawa (The Asahi Shimbun)

Japan Defense Ministry to strengthen R&D capabilities (Jiji Press)


Japan’s JERA divests stake in Indonesian coal plant (Nikkei Asia)

Fujifilm to invest over $630m to boost chip material production (Nikkei Asia)

Global chipmakers build record inventories in push to end shortage (Nikkei Asia)

Exclusive: Japan eyes extending tax breaks for investment in startups (Jiji Press)

Chinese robot makers battle Europe and Japan rivals on home turf (Nikkei Asia)

Unified standard for connected technology eyed (The Japan News)

Companies face difficulty in checking supply chains for Uyghur forced labor, Sankei Shimbun poll of 118 major companies (Sankei)

25% of firms have not checked for business connections with Uyghur forced labor, Sankei Shimbun poll of 118 major companies (Sankei)

Opinion poll & results from Sankei Shimbun poll of 118 major companies (Sankei)

90% of major companies in Japan struggling with remote work, Yomiuri poll (The Japan News)


Japan to introduce new subsidy system for decarbonization (Jiji Press)

The next quantum race: Who can harness it first? (Nikkei Asia)

Japan to oblige businesses to reduce 12 disposable plastic items (Kyodo News)


Primary and middle schools in Yokohama to remain closed until end of month

NTV and TBS reported at noon that Yokohama City has decided that public elementary and junior high schools will remain closed until the end of this month. The networks said although the second semester was scheduled to begin on Aug. 27, the city has decided on a temporary school closure because more than 800 schoolchildren in the city have tested positive for COVID-19 since July 20. The networks added that Sagamihara and Kawasaki cities have already decided on a temporary school closure until the end of the month.

Local assemblies increasingly adopt proposals criticizing China’s human rights violations (Sankei)

Japan not to deport Afghans against will (Jiji Press)

Reform team set up at Japan Immigration after detainee’s death (Jiji Press)

Myanmar soccer player granted refugee status (The Japan News)

How Japan risks losing its shine for foreign workers (Nikkei Asia)

Female candidates fail to increase in Lower House Election (Jiji Press)

Editorial: Effective national leadership vital to secure ample COVID-19 beds (The Asahi Shimbun)


Daiichi Sankyo eyes trial of its COVID vaccine as booster shot (Jiji Press)

Coronavirus experts warn of ‘happy hypoxia’ (NHK WORLD)

Hospital rejects Paralympic request to offer emergency care (The Asahi Shimbun)

Japan starts preparing for booster COVID-19 vaccine shots (Jiji Press)

Editorial: Effective national leadership vital to secure ample COVID-19 beds (The Asahi Shimbun)

Subcontractors account for most virus cases tied to Paralympics (The Asahi Shimbun)

Editorial: World must unite to put brakes on global divide amid pandemic (The Mainichi)

Editorial: More beds for COVID-19 patients vital as Japan’s medical system faces crunch (The Mainichi)

Cartoon: Musical beds (Tokyo Shimbun)

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

Infographic: Status of gov’t indicators for COVID-19 in Tokyo (Aug. 22, 2021) (Tokyo Shimbun)

Infographic: 1,306,114 persons in Japan confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 (Aug. 22, 2021) (NHK digital)


Defense Minister Kishi says delay in U.S. notification of TFOA incident a serious matter

Saturday’s Okinawa Times and Ryukyu Shimpo reported on the remarks made by Defense Minister Kishi at a regular press briefing on Friday. He reportedly commented on the recent "things falling off aircraft" (TFOA) incident involving a U.S. military plane in Okinawa. The papers wrote that while confirming at around 9:30 p.m. on Aug.12 that parts had apparently fallen off a Futenma-based MV-22, the U.S. military did not notify the GOJ of the incident until the evening of the following day. Kishi reportedly said that the GOJ regards the U.S. military’s delayed notification as a very serious matter and will call on the U.S. side to take appropriate steps. The defense minister reportedly added that although he does not believe that the U.S. military concealed information, it is necessary to promptly provide accurate information. Concerning whether the U.S. military should suspend flights of all Ospreys at the base, Kishi reportedly said that he has no intention to make such a request because he understands that the U.S. military has conducted safety inspections on all the Ospreys at Futenma.

One-third of new COVID-19 cases among U.S. military personnel in Okinawa are breakthrough infections (Okinawa Times, Ryukyu Shimpo)

U.S. Navy service member arrested for DUI in Naha (Ryukyu Shimpo)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team