Afternoon Alert   -   Tuesday, August 31, 2021
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Broadcasters led with reports on Prime Minister Suga's decision to change the LDP leadership lineup, including LDP Secretary General Nikai, prior to the party leadership race (NHK) and the arrest of a couple for allegedly disposing of the body of an 18-year-old high school student in Yamanashi (NTV, TBS, Fuji TV, TV Asahi).


Japan to transfer its embassy functions from Kabul to Doha

NHK reported that Foreign Minister Motegi told the press today that following the completion of the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, the functions of the Japanese Embassy in Kabul, which has been temporarily closed, will be transferred to Doha, Qatar. He also reportedly said: "We believe that we are moving away from the phase of military-led evacuation operations and entering a new phase. We will examine ways to safely evacuate those who wish to leave Afghanistan."

When asked whether the timing of deploying SDF airplanes to Kabul was appropriate, Motegi reportedly said: "We considered various possible options amid the changing situation. I do not think the deployment was too late. It is regrettable that those who wished to evacuate were unable to do so due to the suicide bombing near the airport."

U.S. completes troops withdrawal from Afghanistan

NHK's Washington Bureau chief Takagi Masaru reported from Washington that the fact that the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan took place one day ahead of the August 31 deadline came as a surprise, expressing the view that it represented President Biden's strong determination to end the longest war in U.S. history. He added that the suicide bombing that occurred in Kabul exposed the Taliban's inability to control the activities of regional Islamic State affiliates and maintain public order. Noting that there are still many who wish to be evacuated from the nation, he said if the U.S. withdrawal leads to further confusion in Afghanistan, the nation could become a hotbed of terrorism again. Although some have high expectations that the Taliban have become more moderate than they were 20 years ago, it remains to be seen whether the group will honor the rights of women and ensure the safety of Afghans who have been cooperating with other nations, he added.

Takagi also said that given the recent turmoil in Afghanistan, there is no doubt that President Biden's caliber as commander in chief will be called into question. Noting that massive amounts of human and financial resources have been invested in the Middle East nation, he claimed that the President will not be able to avoid criticism from the international community that such efforts may go down the drain. He added that the latest development will also deal a blow to the foreign policy of the Biden administration, which attaches importance to international cooperation. However, withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan had also been the policy of both the Obama and Trump administrations, Takagi said, and the U.S. public had been hoping for an end to the 20-year war. He pointed out that there is a certain level of recognition among the U.S. public that the U.S. successfully completed its original purpose of overthrowing an international terrorist organization. He added that history will judge the withdrawal based on how Afghanistan will develop as a nation and to what extent the U.S. will be able to fulfill its obligation to ensure stability in the region.

Man who swam over from Kunashiri hopes to apply for refugee status (Hokkaido Cultural Broadcasting)

Japan, China, S. Korea to cooperate in cultural dissemination (Jiji Press)


Constitutional restrictions hampered Japan’s evacuation efforts (The Japan News)

Chinese ships enter territorial waters for third consecutive day (Sankei)

Chinese warship deployed to waters between Yonaguni and Taiwan around the clock (Sankei)

Japan Police Agency seeks 5 b. yen for cyberattack measures (Jiji Press)

Editorial: Failed Afghan airlift requires a rigorous postmortem (The Asahi Shimbun)

Fujitsu hackers may have targeted critical infrastructure (Asahi)


Trade Minister Kajiyama: “Support SMR development” (Sankei)

Editorial: Misinformation must be filtered out over plan to release N-plant water (The Japan News)

Tokyo Gov. says consideration for hosting IR put on hold (Nikkei)

8 Japan automakers’ global output falls amid chip shortages (Jiji Press)

Editorial: Safety data flap should disqualify JAPC as nuke plant operator (The Asahi Shimbun)

Editorial: Finding more land for solar power facilities key to nation’s energy goals (The Japan News)


Prime minister’s schedule on Aug. 30, 2021 (Sankei)

Young people back Kono, LDP supporters prefer Suga, and voters prioritizing COVID measures support Ishiba and Kishida (Nikkei)

Interview: LDP sec.-gen. Nikai unhappy with proposal to limit tenure (Jiji Press)

Rank-and-file votes determine LDP presidential race (Nikkei)

Opinion: The ground under Japan’s ruling coalition is starting to shift (Nikkei Asia)

Yokohama to withdraw from IR race (Jiji Press)

Heavyweights in Lower House to retire, make way for new blood (The Asahi Shimbun)

DPFP’s Tamaki: Aiming to be a second conservative party (Nikkei)

Lawmakers form bipartisan parliamentary group on establishment of independent fiscal institution (Asahi)

Japan’s new Digital Agency prepares for daunting task of overhauling tech policy (The Japan Times)


Japan public favors Kono and Ishiba in LDP race, Nikkei poll (Nikkei Asia)


Japan eyes stricter penalties for cyberbullies (The Japan News)

Immigration detainee in Japan suffers neck injury after security guard puts him in headlock (The Mainichi)

Editorial: Surge in child abuse cases shows risk of pandemic-related isolation (The Japan News)


Infographic – Cumulative total no. of COVID-19 cases in Japan (Aug. 30, 2021): 1,473,653 (NHK digital)

Infographic: Five COVID-19 indicators for 33 key prefectures (Aug. 29, 2021) (NHK digital)

Infographic: Status of gov’t indicators for COVID-19 in Tokyo (Aug. 30, 2021) (Tokyo Shimbun)

Contaminants found in more Moderna COVID vaccine in Japan (Kyodo News)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team