Afternoon Alert   -   Thursday, January 27, 2022
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Broadcasters led with the COVID-19 quasi-state of emergency that went into effect in Osaka and 17 other prefectures today (NHK, TBS), North Korea’s launch of two projectiles this morning (Fuji TV), a traffic accident involving multiple vehicles on an expressway in Chiba (TV Asahi), and the start of a trial related to a fatal road rage incident that occurred five years ago.


North Korea fires more missiles

All TV networks reported on the South Korean Defense Ministry announcement earlier today that North Korea fired into the Sea of Japan what appeared to be two short-range ballistic missiles at about 8 a.m., saying that this was the sixth provocation of its kind this month alone. The two projectiles reportedly flew about 190 kilometers before falling into the ocean. The networks said the Kim regime is upping the ante against the United States following the Workers’ Party decision earlier this month to end a moratorium on nuclear and ICBM tests to prepare for a “long-running confrontation with American imperialism.” The projectiles apparently splashed down outside Japan’s EEZ, and the Japanese government has confirmed that there was no damage to Japanese airplanes or ships.

Prime Minister Kishida commented on the latest provocation by telling the press this morning: “This is the sixth launch of its kind. As it involved ballistic missiles, it contravenes the UN Security Council resolutions. We have filed a protest. It is extremely regrettable.” Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno said: “For the security of Japan and the region, North Korea’s recent accelerated development of nuclear- and missile-related technology cannot be overlooked. The repeated launches pose a serious threat to Japan and the international community. We will continue to coordinate with the United States, South Korea, and others to defend the people’s lives and property.”

Expert: Japan, U.S. should find common ground in trade policy (Nikkei)

Ukraine ambassador warns of energy risk to Asia if Russia attacks (Nikkei Asia)

Ukraine envoy to Japan warns of ‘butterfly effect’ on global security amid Russia tensions (The Japan Times)

The “China Factor” inside Taiwan steadily cultivates favorable ground for unification (Asahi)

Japanese Ambassador to Afghanistan visited Kabul in January (Asahi)

Cartoon: Putin holds up the starting pistol (Tokyo Shimbun)


Chinese ships spotted near Senkakus for 30th consecutive day (Sankei)

Japan to align with U.S. on space, cyber in security strategy revamp (Nikkei Asia)

COVID cases at Kyogamisaki base should be addressed by U.S. military: JCP (Akahata)

Japan, U.S. step up pressure on North Korea (Sankei)

ASDF Tonga mission halted due to 3 more COVID-19 cases (The Asahi Shimbun)


Economic 2+2 with U.S. could put Japan in awkward position vis-à-vis China

Asahi reported online on the recent U.S.-Japan agreement to establish a framework for economic dialogue between the foreign and trade ministers, saying it will complement the two other venues that the two governments launched earlier—the bilateral Competitiveness and Resilience Partnership and the Commercial and Industrial Partnership. The paper conjectured that the scope of the three initiatives might overlap, although the Japanese side is hoping that bilateral discussions on the economic front will broaden due to the participation of the foreign ministers in the 2+2 platform. While saying that the Biden administration is keen to strengthen multilateral coordination with allies and partners to protect supply chains for key strategic materials and critical advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and quantum cryptography from China and other autocratic regimes, the daily said if Tokyo elects to follow the United States' lead blindly, China may counter by imposing greater regulations on Japanese businesses. “The Japanese business community would like to maintain economic relations with China,” said Keidanren Chairman Tokura earlier this week while referring to the U.S.-Japan economic 2+2 framework. “The world cannot function without China, and China cannot function without the world.” The daily asserted that the Kishida administration stopped short of joining the separate U.S.-orchestrated Export Controls and Human Rights Initiative perhaps out of deference to Beijing.

Exclusive: Japan to oblige firms to answer to supply chain surveys (Jiji Press)

Bill Gates-backed fast-reactor effort joined by Japan heavyweights (Nikkei Asia)

60% of companies say economic security discussions should proceed with caution, NHK poll of 100 major companies (NHK digital)

Japan to open up power grids to battery storage for renewables (Nikkei Asia)

Focus: 2022 Shunto sees gaps in mood for pay hikes (Jiji Press)

Editorial: Thorough explanation needed of unusual gasoline subsidy program (The Japan News)

60 pct of Japanese firms face higher purchase prices (Jiji Press)


Prime minister’s schedule on Jan. 26, 2022 (Sankei)

Gist of interpellations at Lower House budget committee meeting, Jan. 26, 2022 (Yomiuri)

Japan will not pursue ability to wage ‘full-scale war,’ Kishida says (Nikkei Asia)

LDP launches project team on digital assets (Jiji Press)


ArkEdge procures 1.67 billion yen to test optical communications in space (Nikkei)

Perfect pairing: Tesla co-founder, Kubota to develop vineyard robots (Nikkei Asia)


Tokyo may record over 24,000 COVID cases a day in early February, experts warn

According to NHK, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government taskforce on the coronavirus updated its assessment of the epidemic curve today, concluding that the infection situation is heading toward “a critically dangerous level that has never been seen before.” The panel of public health professionals estimated that a week from now more than 24,000 Tokyoites could test positive every day if the upward trend continues. “Under such an explosive infection situation, social functions may grind to a halt,” the panel warned. “Everyone could become infected or be designated a close contact. People must take thorough measures to defend themselves.”

Japan’s entry ban keeps Indonesian, Filipino workers in limbo (Nikkei Asia)

Opinion: Japan is only harming itself by keeping its borders shut (Nikkei Asia)

Editorial: Flexible COVID care regime needs public cooperation to work (The Mainichi)


Okinawa governor to pick new deputy, determined to stop Henoko base construction

Okinawa Times reported on the finding that Okinawa Governor Tamaki has decided to appoint Ikeda Takekuni as his new deputy to replace Jahana Kiichiro, who will complete his term at the end of March. The paper said Ikeda has served in such positions as the head of the Governor's office in charge of U.S. base issues under the late Governor Onaga and has been dealing with the issue of the base construction in Henoko. Ikeda is also well versed in SOFA matters. The daily added that the governor's appointment of Ikeda is aimed at maintaining a solid base of support for his effort to stop the base construction in Henoko, Nago, which is a top priority for the Okinawa government.

U.S. military fails to present Omicron test results to GOJ (Ryukyu Shimpo)

Local gov’t protests noise from “Papa Loop” at Kadena AB (Okinawa Times, Ryukyu Shimpo)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team