Afternoon Alert   -   Friday, August 27, 2021
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Broadcasters led with reports on the explosions near the Kabul airport that claimed the lives of 13 U.S. service members and many others (NHK, NTV, TBS, TV Asahi) and the long line that formed in front of a vaccination center in Shibuya that started giving shots to people aged 16 to 39 today (Fuji TV).


Japan’s evacuation operation in Afghanistan a race against time

All networks reported at noon on the ongoing SDF operation to evacuate Japanese nationals and local embassy staff from Afghanistan, saying it has become a race against time following the explosions near the Kabul airport that claimed more than 70 lives. NHK said that although the Defense Ministry and the SDF are hoping to swiftly evacuate Japanese nationals and others from Afghanistan, the three SDF transport planes and government plane deployed from Japan are still standing by at an airport in Islamabad as of Friday morning because it has become difficult for those who wish to evacuate to get to the Kabul airport due to the deteriorating security situation. As a result, the SDF reportedly decided to forgo sending its transport planes to Kabul this morning, the network said.

TBS said that Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato told the press that no Japanese nationals were among the casualties from the explosions in Afghanistan. He also reportedly said: "The situation remains uncertain and unpredictable, but we will work closely with the United States and other nations and continue to make efforts to safely evacuate Japanese nationals, local embassy staff, and others while ensuring the safety of the SDF members deployed to the Kabul airport."

Immigration officials still considering how to handle Russian man who “swam over from Kunashiri” (NHK Hokkaido)

Watanabe Hideo, Japan’s “special connection” with Myanmar (Asahi)

Interview with Watanabe Hideo: “I’m not trying to defend Myanmar military” (Asahi)

Commentary: Has nation-building in Afghanistan failed? (The Japan Times)

Japan protests to Russia over exercise off disputed island (Kyodo News)

EXCLUSIVE: Japan eyes defense talks with Pacific isle nations (Jiji Press)


Okinawa governor expresses regret over start of seawall construction in Henoko

NHK reported that following the completion of the transplantation of more than 800 colonies of coral reef in waters off Camp Schwab to other locations, the Okinawa Defense Bureau has begun constructing a seawall in the construction zone known as N2 this morning. Okinawa Governor Tamaki reportedly told the press today that "prematurely moving to build a new seawall is beyond comprehension" and that it is "extremely regrettable" that the construction is moving forward. Meanwhile, Defense Minister Kishi reportedly told the press today: "Since the necessary preparations have been made, the Okinawa Defense Bureau piled up stones and began the work of building a new seawall today. In order to realize the full return of the Futenma Air Station as soon as possible, we will steadily proceed with the work to relocate the base to Henoko."

Chinese ships spotted near Senkakus for 18th consecutive day (Sankei)

Six ruling, opposition members to participate in seaborne inspection tour of Senkakus (Sankei)

Yamato and Ayase Cities make annual base requests (Kanagawa Shimbun)

Quad navies gather for drills as Australia courts India on trade (Nikkei Asia)


Prime minister’s schedule on August 26, 2021 (Sankei)

Possible scenarios of Lower House election (Sankei)

Extraordinary Diet session in Sept. emerges as option (Jiji Press)

Commentary: LDP leadership election: Suga has a target on his back (The Japan Times)

Editorial: LDP needs to regain public trust through vigorous debate in party presidential election (The Japan News)

Editorial: LDP presidential election should be centered on Suga’s leadership (The Asahi Shimbun)

Deputy CCS Sugita back to work (Asahi)

JCP urges CDPJ to strengthen “united front” in upcoming Lower House election (Yomiuri)

LDP’s Takaichi seeks Japan’s possession of “nat’l defense forces” (Kyodo News)

MOFA seeks 777.9 billion yen in FY2022 budget (Yomiuri)

Japan Land Ministry requests 6.9-t.-yen budget for FY 2022 (Jiji Press)

Japan Coast Guard to seek record budget for FY 2022 (Jiji Press)

Reconstruction Agency to seek 577 b. yen under FY 2022 budget (Jiji Press)


MEXT and METI to produce hydrogen with next-generation nuclear reactor (Yomiuri)

Ishigaki City working to turn fish from Senkakus into a brand (Sankei)

Wind power association enjoys growing membership amid Japan’s decarbonization push (Mainichi)

Turkey’s investment office head expects EPA to boost FDI from Japan by more than 50% (NIKKEI Business Daily)

Japan govt keeps economic view unchanged in Aug. (Jiji Press)


Eleven hydrogen-related projects to receive government funding (Yomiuri)

Astroscale successfully completes experiment to capture space debris (Yomiuri)

METI allocates 193.5 billion to use hydrogen for steelmaking (Asahi)

Kyoto Univ., Accenture team up to tackle space-related issues, disaster prevention by using AI (NIKKEI Business Daily)


Editorial: Gov’t should extend COVID-19 state of emergency to all of Japan (The Mainichi)

Infographic: Five COVID-19 indicators for 33 key prefectures (Aug. 25, 2021) (NHK digital)

Infographic: Status of gov’t indicators for COVID-19 in Tokyo (Aug. 26, 2021) (Tokyo Shimbun)

Infographic: 1,393,790 persons in Japan confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 (Aug. 26, 2021) (NHK digital)


Economic benefits of Tokyo Games estimated at over $55 billion (Kyodo News)

EXCLUSIVE: Japan to support “relocation without job change” (Jiji Press)

Child suicides in Jan.-Jul. up from year earlier (NHK WORLD)

Editorial: Kudo-kai head’s death sentence will be significant deterrent against organized crime (The Japan News)


Okinawa enraged by unannounced discharge of toxic water from Futenma

The two major Okinawa papers reported extensively on the U.S. military’s release into the local public sewage system of PFOS-contaminated water from the Futenma Air Station after treating it, highlighting that local government officials were furious about what they regarded as a “surprise” operation by the Futenma authorities. They expressed deep distrust of the U.S. military for discharging the contaminated water without obtaining consent either from the GOJ or Okinawa, claiming that the U.S. side had promised that it would not discharge the treated water until agreement had been reached with the Japanese side. Okinawa Times said the episode revealed the U.S. military’s “audacious” nature, while Ryukyu Shimpo said Japan “was fooled” by the U.S. military.

According to Ryukyu Shimpo, a senior prefectural government official visited the U.S. Consulate in Naha yesterday to lodge a protest. Consular officer Susan Dunathan reportedly said in response that Okinawa’s message will be conveyed to the U.S. military and Washington. The Okinawa official also protested the recent incident in which components fell off a Futenma-based Osprey and the arrest of a U.S. base worker for attempted sexual assault.

JCG and MSDF conduct joint training (Ryukyu Shimpo)

Miyakojima missiles transport to be postponed (Okinawa Times)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team