Afternoon Alert   -   Wednesday, August 25, 2021
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Broadcasters led with reports on the approval given by the GOJ's subcommittee on the coronavirus for the GOJ's plan to expand the state of emergency to include eight additional prefectures and expand the quasi-state of emergency to include four additional prefectures (NHK, NTV, Fuji TV) and this morning's meeting between PM Suga and LDP Secretary General Nikai on the upcoming LDP presidential election (TBS, TV Asahi).


Government plane on evacuation mission returns to Japan “as necessary preparations could not be made”

NHK reported that although the Defense Ministry was planning as early as this evening to transport SDF personnel to Afghanistan to help evacuate Japanese nationals and local embassy staff, the plane returned to Japan, landing at Chitose Air Base in Hokkaido because "necessary preparations could not be made." According to the network, although the government plane departed from the ASDF's Komaki Air Base in Aichi in the afternoon, it returned to Japan before 2 p.m. today. The network said the Defense Ministry will continue to explore the possibility of deploying a government plane.

Second Gentleman Emhoff makes diplomatic debut at Paralympics opening ceremony (Sankei)

Taliban wants to maintain good relations with Japan: spokesman (Kyodo News)

Suga shows willingness to Afghan humanitarian aid (NHK WORLD)

Identity of Russian man determined (Mainichi)


GOJ to tap Hitotsubashi University professor emerita Ishikura as head of Digital Agency

TBS reported on the finding that final arrangements are underway for the GOJ to tap Hitotsubashi University professor emerita Ishikura Yoko as the head of the Digital Agency to be launched on Sept. 1. According to the network, Ishikura is a business scholar who became the first Japanese woman to earn a PhD in Business Administration from Harvard Business School.

Prime minister’s schedule on Aug. 24, 2021 (Sankei)

Editorial: PM Suga should rebuff foreign interference and visit Yasukuni Shrine (Japan Forward)

Suga hesitant to dissolve Lower House during emergency (Jiji Press)

Nikai faction leads others in expressing support for Suga’s reelection as LDP president (Yomiuri)

Kono says Okinawa promotion measures will be continued (Yomiuri)


Chinese ships spotted near Senkakus for 16th consecutive day (Sankei)

Editorial: ‘Minimum deterrence’ lacks persuasiveness as China builds up nuclear capabilities (The Japan News)

Full-fledged transport of weaponry to Camp Miyakojima to start as soon as Aug. 28 (Asahi)

Japan pushed to dispatch SDF aircraft to evacuate nationals from Afghanistan (The Japan News)


Japan’s FSA debating stricter rules on crypto assets (Jiji Press)

Japan to aid fishers whose sales drop due to Fukushima water (The Asahi Shimbun)

Gov’t holds first meeting on decarbonizing fashion industry (Nikkei)


Japan’s 1st power system combining CO2 gases, geothermal energy in works (The Japan News)


Okinawa to mark record number of COVID-19 cases today

NHK reported on the finding that Okinawa Prefecture reported the number of new cases of COVID-19 today will likely exceed 800, surpassing the record 768 cases reported on Aug. 19. Okinawa Times also reported that the caseload is surging in the prefecture, with the highest number of cases per 100,000 population in the nation at 308.46 as of Aug. 23. The number of cases per 100,000 was 233.45 in Tokyo and 126.72 nationwide on Aug. 23, according to the Okinawa Times.

PM Suga to hold press conference this evening

NHK reported that the Japanese government will convene a task force meeting on coronavirus measures at 6 p.m. today and that Prime Minister Suga will hold a press conference at around 9 p.m. The network said the premier is expected to explain the government's decision to expand the state of emergency in response to the rising number of cases and ask for public understanding and cooperation.

GOJ to distribute antigen test kits to schools

NHK and TV Asahi reported that the Japanese government is planning to distribute up to 800,000 sets of antigen test kits to kindergartens and elementary and junior high schools starting in early September in light of the growing concern over the spread of COVID-19 among schoolchildren after the end of summer recess. The networks said the GOJ is considering adding anti-virus measures at schools to the “Basic Policy for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Control." This reportedly includes distributing antigen test kits to be used for students and teachers at schools when they are unable to immediately see a doctor or return home. According to the networks, teachers and students in the fourth grade and up will be the main recipients of the antigen test kits.

In a related story, NHK and TBS reported that Chairman Omi of the GOJ subcommittee on the new coronavirus said at the Diet this morning that local municipalities should consider the possibility of postponing the start of the new semester in light of the increasing number of children testing positive for COVID-19. The networks reported that Omi also said that teachers should be given priority in receiving COVID-19 vaccines as the number of cases is expected to rise after the resumption of classes.

Japan turns to antibody cocktails as ‘new weapon’ in fight against pandemic (The Japan Times)

Infographic: Map of COVID countermeasures (Aug. 24, 2021) (NHK digital)

Infographic: Five COVID-19 indicators for 29 key prefectures (Aug. 23, 2021) (NHK digital)

Infographic: Status of gov’t indicators for COVID-19 in Tokyo (Aug. 24, 2021) (Tokyo Shimbun)

Infographic: 1,344,510 persons in Japan confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 (Aug. 24, 2021) (NHK digital)

Editorial: Japan’s delta-fueled 5th COVID wave raises worries about back-to-school season (The Mainichi)


Top coronavirus adviser voices displeasure with IOC leader’s latest visit to Japan

All national papers took up remarks made at the Diet this morning by coronavirus taskforce subcommittee Chairman Omi concerning IOC President Bach’s trip to Tokyo for the Paralympics. “Why did he come again?” he was quoted as saying. “He already visited Ginza once during the last visit. Why can't he join the opening ceremony remotely?” While clarifying that he was speaking as a layperson and not as a public health expert, the leading epidemiologist stressed that “common sense” dictates Bach’s participation should have been virtual. The papers added that the IOC chief drew heavy criticism for touring Ginza on Aug. 9 following the conclusion of the Olympics.

Editorial: Tokyo Paralympics should be opportunity to consider inclusive society (The Japan News)

Japan’s emperor pins high hopes on Tokyo Paralympics (Jiji Press)

Don of yakuza gang dealt unprecedented death sentence (The Asahi Shimbun)

Osaka rated most powerful city in Japan (Jiji Press)


New seawall to be built off Camp Schwab

Okinawa Times and Ryukyu Shimpo wrote that work for constructing a 250-meter-long seawall for use as a platform for unloading from transport ships dirt and sand for landfill will likely start this week off Camp Schwab. The Okinawa Defense Bureau has just completed transplanting some 830 colonies of coral reef in the vicinity to other locations for the latest construction operation, which the bureau claims can move forward sans fresh approval from the governor. As the office allegedly wants to speed up landfill for the FRF construction, it has begun installing screens in the water around the new seawall to prevent pollution from the pouring of sand. However, the prefectural government reportedly insists on the need to obtain fresh approval from the governor on account of the soft seabed in the area.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team