Afternoon Alert   -   Wednesday, August 24, 2021
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Broadcasters led with reports on the GOJ's decision to set up a new fund to compensate for damage caused by harmful rumors concerning the treated water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (NHK), the Tokyo Paralympics that will kick off this evening (NTV), the GOJ's plan to make an informal decision as early as today to expand the state of emergency declaration to include Hokkaido, Aichi, and possibly other prefectures (TBS, TV Asahi), and the likelihood that the head of the Kudo-kai gang will be sentenced to death today (Fuji TV).


Two C-130 transport planes to leave for Kabul today

All networks reported that preparations are underway for SDF planes to leave for Afghanistan on a mission to evacuate stranded Japanese nationals and local Japanese Embassy staff members in Kabul. The networks said in addition to the C-2 transport plane that left Japan yesterday, the two C-130 transport planes left the ASDF's Komaki Air Base in Aichi Prefecture this morning and will pick up SDF troops and equipment at Iruma Air Base in Saitama and leave for Afghanistan this afternoon. The network said the evacuation operation is expected to begin at Kabul's international airport as early as this week.

Meanwhile, TV Asahi reported that it conducted the first one-on-one interview with a Taliban spokesperson by a Japanese media outlet since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, saying that the spokesperson said there is no problem with Japan evacuating its nationals with SDF transport planes. The network added that the spokesperson also called on Japan to end SDF activities in the nation by the end of this month when the U.S. troops are expected to withdraw, quoting him as saying: "Foreign militaries should withdraw as soon as possible. The deadline for the withdrawal set by the U.S. and other foreign militaries is August 31. We do not expect the Self-Defense Forces to continue to operate beyond that deadline." In addition, the spokesperson also reportedly disclosed that the Taliban are communicating with the Japanese government through embassies and expressed hope to strengthen ties with Japan in the future.

Why “Kunashiri man seeking asylum” presents Japanese government with dilemma (J-CAST)

Japan seeking to position Japanese national at top U.N. post (Nikkei)

Japan welcomes U.S. nomination Rahm Emanuel as envoy (Jiji Press)

Japan urges Iran to ensure safe navigation in Persian Gulf (Kyodo News)

Japan, Qatar confirm cooperation over Afghanistan (Jiji Press)

76 years since war’s end, Japan should regain its sense of pride (Japan Forward)


Pandemic, Yokohama election put damper on prospects for integrated resort in greater Tokyo area (The Japan News)

Editorial: Strengthen production, expand sales channels to accelerate food exports (The Japan News)


GOJ not to allow people other than GOJ officials to land on Senkaku Islands

NHK reported that in relation to a plan by Ishigaki City of Okinawa to file a request with the Japanese government for permission to land on the Senkaku Islands to set up a sign with the new official name of the islands, Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato told the press this morning that the GOJ will make a decision based on the policy of not allowing anyone except GOJ officials to land on the islands. Kato reportedly said: "The government's policy is in principle to allow no one other than government officials to land on the Senkaku Islands for the purpose of maintaining the islands and the surrounding seas in a stable manner....If we receive a request for permission to land on the Senkaku Islands, we will make a decision based on this policy."

Chinese ships spotted near Senkakus for 15th consecutive day (Sankei)

MOD to establish second space operations squadron (Kanagawa Shimbun)


Prime minister’s schedule on August 23, 2021 (Sankei)

Kishida holds the key in LDP presidential race (Mainichi)

Suga to seek reelection despite growing calls for ‘new party face’ (Nikkei Asia)

Nippon Ishin’s Matsui denies option of cooperation with ruling camp (Asahi)

CCS Kato: A practical administrator pressed to take the next step (Nikkei)

Editorial: Distrust in Suga administration led to crushing defeat in Yokohama mayoral election (The Japan News)

Suga vows to promote telemedicine, other future fields (Jiji Press)

EXCLUSIVE: Industry ministry to seek 1.4 t. yen in FY 2022 budget (Jiji Press)


Cabinet support rate continues to drop, plummeting to 32%, Sankei-FNN joint public opinion poll (Sankei)

Kono once again top pick for next prime minister, Sankei-FNN joint public opinion poll (Sankei)

Opinion poll & results from Sankei Shimbun (Sankei)


Exclusive: Japan to fund private decarbonization efforts (Jiji Press)


Tokyo Paralympics to open with safety questions amid COVID surge (Kyodo News)

Editorial: Paralympics could not have come at a worse time (The Asahi Shimbun)

Editorial: Tokyo Paralympics should reflect inclusive society (The Mainichi)


Infographic: Five COVID-19 indicators for 29 key prefectures (Aug. 22, 2021) (NHK digital)

Infographic: Status of gov’t indicators for COVID-19 in Tokyo (Aug. 23, 2021) (Tokyo Shimbun)

Infographic: 1,322,945 persons in Japan confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 (Aug. 23, 2021) (NHK digital)

COVID-19 testing failing to catch up to speed of coronavirus (The Asahi Shimbun)

Osaka city starts inoculating residents with AstraZeneca jabs (The Asahi Shimbun)


USFJ leader, senior MOFA official reaffirm commitment to force realignment

Okinawa Times highlighted the courtesy call departing USFJ Commander Schneider paid on State Minister for Foreign Affairs Uto yesterday. The officials reportedly agreed to maintain the deterrence of the bilateral alliance and to steadily implement force realignment programs, including the FRF construction off Camp Schwab. According to MOFA, Uto voiced gratitude for the USAF general’s efforts to strengthen the U.S.-Japan security partnership during his tenure. They confirmed close coordination in the belief that it is indispensable to obtain local understanding and cooperation to ensure the stable stationing of U.S. troops in Japan.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team