Afternoon Alert   -   Thursday, March 3, 2022
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All broadcasters led with reports on the situation in Ukraine, including intense Russian attacks on Kyiv and other cities as well as the bleak prospects for planned ceasefire talks


GOJ announces sanctions on Belarus

Jiji Press reported that the GOJ announced sanctions today against Belarus for cooperating with Russia's invasion of Ukraine. According to Jiji, Japan will freeze the assets of seven senior officials of Belarus, including President Lukashenko, and two entities, including the State Authority for Military Industry. Jiji said Japan also added 18 Russian individuals, including Sergei Naryshkin, the head of the Foreign Intelligence Service and a close aide to Russian President Putin, and four Russian banks to the list of Russian individuals and organizations whose assets will be frozen. NTV carried a similar story, adding that the GOJ also decided to freeze the assets of 30 people connected to the eastern Ukrainian provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk. The network said these measures will take effect today.

Quad to hold leaders’ teleconference tonight

TBS reported that the leaders of the Quad framework will hold a virtual meeting tonight, speculating that Prime Minister Kishida is expected to underscore the importance of taking a coordinated approach among the four partners in pushing back against the Russian attacks on Ukraine. The premier is also set to state that Russia's latest attempt to alter the status quo by force is unacceptable with China's aggressive maritime push in the South and East China Seas in mind. While pointing out that President Biden criticized India by name for its abstention from the UN vote on condemning the Russian invasion, the broadcaster projected that it remains unclear whether the Quad leaders will be able to reaffirm mutual unity in responding to the Russian aggression.

Japan to sanction four additional Russian banks

According to NHK, Finance Minister Suzuki disclosed this morning that the assets of four additional Russian banks will be frozen following the EU’s official decision on Wednesday to exclude seven Russian financial institutions from the SWIFT international banking transaction system beginning on March 12. “As a country that is involved in the framework, Japan supports the EU decision,” Suzuki said. “In order to enforce this measure in coordination with the other G7 members, we have decided to immobilize the assets of four additional banks on top of the three already sanctioned.” As a result, the network said all seven Russian institutions that have been removed from the cross-border financial transaction system will be penalized by Japan as well.

Government spokesperson comments on situation in Ukraine

NHK reported that during a morning press conference today, Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno revealed that Japanese Ambassador to Ukraine Matsuno and his subordinates are currently in Moldavia after evacuating Kyiv by land but that the ambassador plans to report to the MOFA temporary office in Lviv soon to take the lead in ensuring the safety of Japanese residents in the country.

The government spokesman separately commented on Japan’s plan to shelter Ukrainian refugees, saying the border will first be opened to relatives and acquaintances of the some 1,700 Ukrainians who have residency status in Japan, adding that more people will eventually be accommodated from a humanitarian standpoint.

Toyota to halt auto production in Russia

NHK reported that Toyota has decided to suspend SUV production at its factory in St. Petersburg, Russia, beginning on Friday, speculating that the decision was probably made based on the assessment that procuring the necessary components will become increasingly difficult due to the Western sanctions against Russia. Noting that Honda has already halted auto exports to the Russian market, the broadcaster said the Japanese auto industry is apparently moving to discontinue businesses there on account of the war in Ukraine.

Nikkei ran a similar story, quoting Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno as saying that the Japanese government will do its utmost to minimize the international sanctions’ impact on Japanese business interests in Russia. While saying it is unavoidable that there will be “various effects” on Japanese companies, the government spokesman called for their understanding of the importance of taking actions to demonstrate unity with the Ukrainian people for what he called a “great cause.”

President Biden makes no mention of Indo-Pacific in State of Union address (Sankei)

Expert: Biden plays up unity in attempt to buoy up his administration (Mainichi)

Asahi: LDP defense division chair approves of Japanese volunteers fighting for Ukraine (Asahi)

Editorial: Biden’s address shows U.S. resolve to protect free world amid Ukraine crisis (The Japan News)

Biden rebukes Russia in State of the Union with Cold War backdrop (Nikkei Asia)

Commentary: Could Ukraine be the beginning of the end for Putin? (Nikkei Asia)

Roundup of newspaper editorials on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (Sankei)

Infographic: Breakdown of claims on Russia, by country (Nikkei)

Japan likely to return to U.N. Security Council from 2023 (Jiji Press)

Analysis: Ukraine crisis throws China’s top 7 leaders into disarray (Nikkei Asia)

Biden delegation backs Taiwan amid China threat, Ukraine war (Nikkei Asia)

Cartoon: Putin the Devil (Sankei)


Editorial: Japan should decide to withdraw from Sakhalin resource projects (Sankei)

Japan, U.S. and Europe banks risk losses from $150bn Russia exposure (Nikkei Asia)

Trading in Russia-linked financial products halted in Japan (Jiji Press)

Rakuten doubles down on global export of low-cost 5G technology (Nikkei Asia)

11 years on: Japan to finish soil transfer to interim storage (Jiji Press)

Revised data likely to show 5.6 pct growth in Japan GDP (Jiji Press)


Prime minister’s schedule on March 2, 2022 (Sankei)

Gist of interpellations at Upper House budget committee meeting, March 2, 2022 (Tokyo Shimbun)

LDP, DPFP leaders comment on issue of nuclear sharing (Nikkei)

Nippon Ishin calls for ‘nuclear sharing’ talks for Japan’s defense (The Asahi Shimbun)


Chinese ships spotted near Senkakus for sixth consecutive day (Sankei)


Japan gov’t to consider installing solar cells, wind turbines along railways nationwide (The Mainichi)

Editorial: Fight against climate change is not someone else’s problem (The Asahi Shimbun)


Greg Kelly found guilty of underreporting Ghosn’s income, gets suspended sentence

NHK reported that the Tokyo District Court sentenced former Nissan executive Greg Kelly to six months in prison, suspended for three years, finding him guilty of underreporting former Chairman Ghosn’s remuneration for 2017. The presiding judge reportedly concluded that only for 2017 did Kelly file a false report on Ghosn's pay in collusion with Nissan. The defendant, however, was cleared of the charge of doing the same from 2010 though 2016. The judge separately convicted Ghosn of underreporting his pay from 2009 through 2017.

Ex-Nissan exec Kelly found guilty of underreporting Ghosn pay (Kyodo News)

Greg Kelly, aide to Carlos Ghosn while at Nissan, is found guilty (Nikkei Asia)

Japan sees record domestic violence consultations amid pandemic (Kyodo News)


Ambassador Emanuel comments on Greg Kelly ruling

NHK reported online that Ambassador Emanuel released a comment regarding the sentence handed down to former Nissan executive Greg Kelly in the morning, quoting him as saying: "We are relieved that the legal process has concluded, and Mr. and Mrs. Kelly can return home. While this has been a long three years for the Kelly family, this chapter has come to an end.... I have always approached this subject as a former U.S. congressman who knows what it means when you have a constituent in need. "

U.S. envoy to Japan sees world ‘turning away from Putin’ (Nikkei Asia)

U.S. Embassy in Tokyo shines for Ukraine (The Japan News)

Read the fine print: the perils of Chinese development finance (Nikkei Asia)


USMC document mentions high level of radiation on helicopter that crashed in 2017

Okinawa Times led with an article by freelance writer Jon Mitchell about a USMC investigative report on the crash landing of a Futenma-based CH-53E helicopter in Okinawa in 2017 that he obtained through the FOIA. According to the report, 144,000 cpm of strontium, more than 5,000 times the normal level, was detected on a component of the aircraft that burned up after the unscheduled landing. The component where the strontium was found was the In-Flight Blade Inspection System (IBIS), which monitors the condition of the blade. According to the journalist, the Marines at the time acknowledged that the aircraft contained radiation but stressed that the quantity was too small to pose a risk to health.

The investigative report also allegedly referred to the detection of 700 nanograms of toxic PFOS, almost twice the U.S. permissible level, in soil sampled from the impact site. The Marines reportedly disposed of the contaminated soil as toxic waste. Mitchell concluded that the finding points to the U.S. military's use of foam extinguisher to put out the fire, which the Japanese side denied at the time, adding that the survey of air and soil collected by the Japanese side after the U.S. military retrieved the burned aircraft and soil in the vicinity showed no abnormal levels of radiation or harmful agents.

The paper said in a separate article that the U.S. military apparently chose not to convey to the Japanese side the contamination of the soil, quoting a scientist as saying that it is wrong to claim that the level of radiation detected would not have an adverse effect on human health.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team