|Afternoon Alert - Tuesday, March 1, 2022|
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All TV networks gave top coverage to the ceasefire talks between Russia and Ukraine held in Belarus on Monday, emphasizing that while the two parties agreed to meet again, the chances for a breakthrough remain slim.
Cabinet approves new sanctions on Russia
NHK reported that the Kishida cabinet formally endorsed today the latest sanctions on Russia, including the immobilization of financial assets held by President Putin, Foreign Minister Lavrov, Defense Minister Shoigu and three other government officials, as well as those held by Russia's central bank and three commercial banks. The sanctions also include a ban on exports of semiconductors and other materials that can be used for weapons. Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno told the press that the punitive measures took effect immediately, adding that Japan is committed to preventing Russia's central bank from evading international sanctions. The government spokesperson disclosed that the yen-denominated portion of Moscow’s foreign currency reserves amounted to about 3.8 trillion yen ($33 billion) as of June 2021.
In a related development, NHK noted that Finance Minister Suzuki held talks with Treasury Secretary Yellen remotely earlier today and confirmed close coordination to punish Russia on the financial front. "We agreed to strengthen bilateral coordination to defend the foundation of the international order and demonstrate that Moscow will have to pay a high price for its reckless behavior," the Japanese minister said to the press afterward, adding that he explained to the U.S. official the financial sanctions that Japan has already implemented.
Diet endorses motion on Russian invasion of Ukraine
NHK reported that the House of Representatives passed a resolution this afternoon condemning the Russian aggression against Ukraine “in the strongest language." The resolution strongly demands that Russia suspend the fighting and pull its troops out of Ukraine immediately. It also calls for the Japanese government to “respond sternly” in coordination with the international community. The Upper House is expected to approve a similar resolution tomorrow.
Japan mulls sheltering Ukrainian refugees
NHK took up remarks made at the Diet today by Justice Minister Furukawa, who said the government is considering the feasibility of Japan hosting Ukrainian refugees from a humanitarian standpoint. An unnamed MOFA official separately said that if such refugees are admitted, they would not be included in the 5,000 travelers eligible to arrive per day. They might also be allowed to board Japan-bound flights without visas or undergoing pre-departure COVID-19 testing.
Ukrainian leader expresses gratitude for Japanese support
According to NHK, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy posted a tweet following his teleconference with Prime Minister Kishida last night expressing appreciation for Japan’s “strong support” for his country's efforts to counter Russian aggression, including the $100 million pledge of humanitarian assistance that was conveyed by the premier during the session. The Ukrainian leader called for the continued support of Japan and other nations in achieving a ceasefire by saying: “A truly global antiwar coalition works.”
UN holds emergency meeting on DPRK missile launch
NHK reported that the UN Security Council convened an emergency session on Monday regarding North Korea’s test-launch of a ballistic missile a day earlier. Following the informal meeting, 11 UN member states, including the United States, the UK, Japan, and South Korea, issued a joint statement condemning the latest provocation as a violation of several Security Council resolutions. “We are calling for North Korea to ease the regional tension and choose the path of diplomacy that leads to global peace and security," said the statement.
ROK leader urges Japan to come to terms with history
NHK highlighted a speech that South Korean President Moon delivered today during a ceremony in Seoul celebrating the launch in 1919 of a local movement seeking independence from Japan’s colonial rule. He called for Japan to “squarely consider” its own history and urged it to understand the pain his people suffered during the colonial era, including the former comfort women and requisitioned workers. “Japan will become a trustworthy country when it can feel empathy for the pain of a neighbor,” Moon said, adding that Seoul is ready to continue dialogue with Tokyo not only on the history disputes but also on regional and global challenges such as the coronavirus pandemic and climate change.
• Xi instructed to “support Russia” over Western sanctions (Yomiuri)
• Editorial: Japan should review its Russia strategy with an eye to supporting international world order (Nikkei)
• China urges Japan to uphold non-nuclear principles, raps ex-PM Abe (Kyodo News)
• Vladimir Putin will fail at subduing Ukraine: Francis Fukuyama (Nikkei Asia)
• Ukraine urges Visa and MasterCard to halt Russian cards (Nikkei Asia)
• Editorial: Invasion of Ukraine demands Japan rethink its Russia policy (The Mainichi)
• Editorial: Meaning of U.N. called into question amid Security Council’s failures (The Japan News)
• Japan to accept evacuees from Ukraine (Jiji Press)
• Following Ukraine invasion, Japan takes much tougher line on Russia (The Japan Times)
Defense chief dismisses possibility of “nuclear sharing” with U.S.
NHK took up remarks made to the press this morning by Defense Minister Kishi, who dismissed former Prime Minister Abe's proposal for Japan to "share" the nuclear weapons of the United States. “If the proposal is premised on a mechanism in which U.S. nuclear weapons would be stored in Japanese territory during peacetime and mounted on SDF aircraft or other assets for deployment in a contingency, it would never be accepted from the standpoint of upholding the three non-nuclear principles,” he was quoted as saying.
U.S., Japan begin survey on use of U.S. drones at SDF base in Kyushu
Asahi reported that a joint team of the U.S. military and the SDF started surveying the MSDF Kanoya base in Kagoshima on Monday to study the feasibility of the proposed temporary deployment of USAF MQ-9 Reaper drones. During the project that runs through Friday, the taskforce will examine such things as telecommunications and other equipment at the facility as well as the accommodations and dining facilities off base to be used by U.S. personnel, including engineers and mechanics.
MOD starts discussions with local government on Mageshima base construction
Asahi wrote that the Defense Ministry started discussions yesterday with the municipal government of Nishinoomote, Kagoshima, concerning the plan to build an SDF camp on the island of Mageshima with the ultimate goal of relocating U.S. military FCLP training there. The dialogue was launched in response to a request from the mayor, who remains extremely cautious about the construction initiative due to local concerns. The ministry is reportedly hoping to offer economic benefits and incentives to the municipality to ease local opposition.
• Chinese ships spotted near Senkakus for fourth consecutive day (Sankei)
• Concerns that Ukraine invasion signals lessened U.S. deterrence with impact in Indo-Pacific (Sankei)
• Invisible threats / Defense technology exposed in ‘too transparent’ patent system (The Japan News)
• All Okinawa’s political fall in spotlight after Ishigaki election (The Asahi Shimbun)
Toyota subsidiary announces ransomware attack
NHK reported that Aichi-based Kojima Industries, which supplies Toyota with plastic parts for automotive interiors, disclosed today that its computer system was compromised by a ransomware attack and that it received a blackmail demand from the apparent perpetrator. The company said the attack occurred on Saturday night and its computer servers and network were shut down the next day to prevent the virus from spreading outside, noting that an investigation is underway to identify the assailant and the extent of the damage.
According to the broadcaster, Toyota decided to resume its auto production operations across the country tomorrow since the exchange of business data with Kojima was restored using a makeshift network system.
• Toyota halts operations at all Japan plants due to cyberattack (Nikkei Asia)
• Corporate Japan gauges Russia risk as sanctions deepen (Nikkei Asia)
• Japan to limit trade with Russian central bank amid Ukraine invasion (Kyodo News)
• Japan automakers’ 2021 domestic output hits lowest level in 45 years (Kyodo News)
• Prime minister’s schedule on Feb. 28, 2022 (Sankei)
• Gist of interpellations at Upper House budget committee meeting, Feb. 28, 2022 (Tokyo Shimbun)
• Editorial: DPP abandoning opposition’s role in backing draft full-year budget (The Asahi Shimbun)
• Japanese, US groups hook up in bid to use Oita Airport for space plane landings (The Mainichi)
Japan eases COVID-19 border controls
NHK reported that Japan’s stringent anti-coronavirus protocols at ports of entry were relaxed beginning today, saying that travelers from certain nations and regions, including the United States, will no longer be required to self-quarantine upon arrival if they present proof that they have received three doses of vaccine. The cap on the number of arrivals, including Japanese returnees, was also raised from 3,500 to 5,000. As more than 400,000 foreigners, including students and trainees, who had obtained visas before the pandemic hit in January 2020, have been waiting for the restrictions to be eased, the network projected that it may take some time for most of them to be able to enter the country.
U.S. database found no records of fingerprints requested by Japanese police in 2021
Nikkei wrote yesterday that according to the National Police Agency, it made 2,089 requests to the FBI last year to cross-reference the fingerprints of suspects based on the bilateral “Cooperative Agreement in Preventing and Combating Serious Crimes.” However, the U.S. database containing the fingerprints of 79 million individuals found no matching records.
• Japan’s cumulative COVID-19 cases top 5 M. (Jiji Press)
• 19.3% of Japan population received booster shot: gov’t (Kyodo News)
• Ukrainian woman in Japan calls for global attention on crisis in homeland (The Mainichi)
• Hibakusha, anti-nuke groups condemn Putin’s n-threat (Jiji Press)
• Panel calls for better medical care at immigration facilities in Japan (NHK WORLD)
• Universities collaborate to improve Japanese skills of foreign workers (Kyodo News)
|U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team|