Afternoon Alert   -   Friday, December 17, 2021
The following information reflects the reporting of the cited news media and does not reflect the opinions of the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. Japan Media Highlights is intended for USG use only and should not be forwarded. Visit the website here. For more information, contact TokyoMATT@state.gov.


Broadcasters gave top play to a fire that broke out in a building in central Osaka this morning (HHK, NTV, Fuji TV), a snowstorm in northern Japan (TV Asahi) and a teleconference between Prime Minister Kishida and Pfizer CEO Bourla, during which the Japanese leader called for accelerated delivery of the company's COVID-19 vaccine. On the Osaka fire, NHK reported that 28 people were injured, 27 of whom were in a state of cardiac arrest, adding the police believe that circumstantial evidence indicates that the cause of the fire was arson.


China envoy calls on Japan to support Beijing Olympics (Jiji Press)

Japan, France postpone 2-plus-2 security talks to next year (Kyodo News)

Japan to quietly snub Beijing Olympics, but won’t call it a boycott (Nikkei Asia)

Kazakhstan asks Japan to cooperate for nuclear-free world (Jiji Press)

Commentary: Should Tokyo boycott the Beijing Olympic Games? (The Japan Times)

Invitation criteria for democracy summit ambiguous: LDP Sato (Yomiuri)

Armed but isolated: North Korea’s Kim marks a decade in power (The Japan Times)


Japan falling behind in developing biopharmaceutical drugs (Nikkei Asia)

Editorial: Patent case shows need to deepen industry-academia collaboration (The Japan News)


Prime minister’s schedule on Dec. 16, 2021 (Sankei)

Gist of interpellations at Upper House budget committee meeting, Dec. 16, 2021 (Yomiuri)

Okinawa election year crucial for advocates and opponents of Henoko transfer (Asahi)

Ishihara faction renamed Moriyama faction (Asahi)

Editorial: Ministry’s egregious disregard for integrity of statistics is intolerable (The Japan News)

Editorial: Rigorous probe into construction data diddling an absolute must (The Asahi Shimbun)

Cartoon: Common sense is drowning in a sea of data (Asahi)


GOJ to update guidelines to prevent outflow of academic knowledge

NHK reported that Minster for Science and Technology Kobayashi disclosed today that the Kishida administration will modify the existing guidelines on extending government funding for research at universities and other academic institutions to prevent the leakage of advanced technological knowledge with the ultimate goal of ensuring economic security. Under the revised guidelines, academic entities will be required to disclose itemized lists of the research funds they receive, including those from foreign companies or entities, and the names of the domestic and foreign institutions their researchers belong to as well as the posts they hold. Failure to comply with the new disclosure rules will disqualify them from receiving GOJ subsides for five years.

4 China gov’t ships enter Japanese waters near Senkakus (Jiji Press)

Gov’t explains draft defense budget to LDP (Nikkei)

Russia conducts firing practice on Kunashiri (Sankei)

Opinion: Why Japan does not need nuclear submarines (Nikkei Asia)


Koizumi: LDP will work with METI to discuss industrial structure for decarbonization (Nikkei)

LDP environment research commission to propose decarbonization measures (Nikkei)


GOJ to maintain strict border control measures at least through January

NHK reported that according to unnamed GOJ officials who attended an LDP meeting on the novel coronavirus this morning, the Kishida administration is set to maintain the enhanced measures at ports of entry aimed at preventing the infiltration of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 for a while given that little is yet known about the new variant, such as its severity. As a result, the ban on new foreign arrivals and requirements for Japanese returnees to self-quarantine at designated facilities for a certain number of days that were instituted in late November will be kept in place at least through January. The GOJ officials reportedly emphasized that the measures cannot be lifted now.

Kishida urges Pfizer chief to speed up shipment of COVID-19 vaccine

All TV networks reported that Prime Minister Kishida spoke by phone with Pfizer CEO Bourla this morning and called for the expedited delivery of the company's coronavirus vaccine that Japan has already secured for shipment next year. With the rapid spread of the Omicron strain abroad in mind, the premier also asked for cooperation in swiftly providing Japan with the oral medication that the pharmaceutical giant has developed to treat COVID-19.

Exclusive: Inspections on Aum-linked groups hit record in 2021 (Jiji Press)

Takeda files for Novavax vaccine approval in Japan (Jiji Press)

Japan’s Kishida to ask Pfizer chief for early delivery of 120m shots (Nikkei Asia)

University students in Japanese city create app and pamphlet to help foreign residents (The Mainichi)

Editorial: Japanese politicians’ receipt of COVID subsidies shows gross lack of ethics (The Mainichi)


Marine official in Okinawa stresses continued use of Futenma Air Station

Okinawa Times reported on remarks made during a symposium sponsored by Kyodo News Agency on Thursday by Col. Neil Owens, the head of Government and External Affairs at Marine Corps Installations Pacific. He allegedly made it clear that the U.S. military will continue to use MCAS Futenma until the replacement facility is made available for use. “The operation of the installation will not be halted until all the agreed-upon conditions are met,” the officer was quoted as saying. “Until then, it must be maintained as an airfield because the United States has to fulfill its obligations for the defense of Japan as set forth in the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty.” According to the article, Lt. Col. Beard, the executive officer at MCAS Futenma, underscored at the same event the importance of Okinawa for the defense of Japan and the region due to its proximity to the Korean Peninsula and China. He also reportedly said the U.S. military and the SDF have repeatedly conducted defense drills in the southernmost prefecture.

Okinawa service member reprimanded for breaching COVID-19 protocols (Ryukyu Shimpo)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team