Afternoon Alert   -   Wednesday, March 23, 2022
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.


All broadcasters led with reports that METI lifted its power supply warning in the Tokyo area at 11 a.m. today, adding, however, that the government continues to call on households and companies to conserve energy as one of the thermal power stations is still offline following the powerful earthquake last week.


Biden’s drive for global unity a “silver lining” in Russian invasion of Ukraine

Sankei’s senior diplomatic writer Kurose called President Biden's drive to achieve global unity a “silver lining” in the Ukraine crisis as it has marked the United States' return to traditional “internationalism” and a departure from the “isolationism” that former President Trump pursued. The reporter cited the results of public opinion surveys showing the American public’s very strong support for defeating Putin in the war in Ukraine and for Washington coming to the defense of democratic countries that are attacked by autocratic regimes. While noting that some American experts believe the Russian leader would not have invaded its neighbor if “unpredictable” Trump had still been the U.S. president, the journalist said that thanks to President Biden, a strong advocate of rebuilding alliance relations, NATO, the G7, and other freedom-loving countries are firmly united in pushing back against the Russian aggression. He voiced doubts about whether international solidarity would have been this strong under President Trump, who was openly critical of NATO. The columnist went on to say that most countries are probably happy to see the United States being led by President Biden since he has shown them that Washington will come to the defense of those in need, adding that his presidency is also beneficial for Japan, which is being threatened by China, North Korea, and Russia.

PM Kishida to leave for Brussels today to attend G7 summit

NHK reported that Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno told the press that Prime Minister Kishida will visit Belgium from March 23 to 25 to attend the G7 Summit to be held at Brussels on the 24th. Matsuno reportedly said: "Japan has been working closely with the other G7 nations on the situation in Ukraine. We hope to showcase the unity of the G7 nations at the summit."

Taiwanese grow pessimistic about military support from U.S., Japan in contingency

Asahi took up the results of a public opinion poll taken by a think tank in Taiwan showing that following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, some 43% of respondents in Taiwan said the SDF would come to the defense of the island territory in the event of Chinese aggression, down almost 15 points from six months ago, while 48.6% said it would not. The corresponding figures for the U.S. military were 34.5% (down 30.5 points) and 55.9%, respectively. The pollster called the drastic decline in the people of Taiwan's expectation for the two partners’ military assistance a “sudden burst of pessimism almost without precedent,” speculating that many Taiwanese were shocked to learn that no countries committed troops for the defense of Ukraine. The survey showed that almost 60% said Taiwan would have to defend itself against invading Chinese forces and that almost 78% felt Taiwan would not be able to repel Chinese forces on its own.

Editorial: Russia is to blame for suspension of bilateral negotiations on Northern Territories (The Japan News)

Prospects for return of northern territories recede (The Japan News)

Criticism growing stronger inside gov’t over Russia’s political regime (Sankei)

Opinion: It is time for China to decide whose side it is on (Nikkei Asia)

Steel prices turn red hot for Japan builders on Russia shock (Nikkei Asia)

Russia to halt peace treaty talks with Japan over sanctions (Kyodo News)

Opinion: Japan, ROK should seek less inimical relationship (Mainichi)

Ukraine invasion and climate change drive concerns over Japan’s food security (The Japan Times)

Cartoon: Zelensky’s message to Japan (Tokyo Shimbun)


Yen binge-buying in contingencies no longer viable

Asahi reported on the yen’s accelerated depreciation against the dollar triggered in part by the Fed’s hike in interest rates. The daily said that although the yen previously rose rather sharply vis-à-vis the dollar during major contingencies such as the 2008 global economic collapse triggered by the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and even the 2011 triple disasters in Tohoku, the yen has kept losing ground lately despite the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. Global investors customarily rushed to purchase the yen whenever the world economic outlook became uncertain in a bid to avoid risks based on the belief that holding their assets in yen would be safest because Japan’s net external assets were the largest by far. That financial practice is apparently coming to an end, however, as Japan no longer posts a trade surplus because of soaring energy and other import prices. The paper also attributed the declining value of the yen to the nation’s weakest economic fundamentals among the G7 members, with an analyst projecting that it will keep sliding if Japan’s economic recovery continues to be constrained by the pandemic. While noting that BOJ Governor Kuroda remains committed to supporting a weak yen to put an end to the prolonged deflation, another economist conjectured that he may be forced to change course given that consumers will be upset if prices for daily necessities continue to rise while their wages remain low.

Keidanren chair: Consider the effective use of nuclear power (Nikkei)

Cyberattacks on Japanese companies increasing (Asahi)

Japanese crypto exchanges to speed up cryptocurrency listings (Nikkei Asia)

Bridgestone invests in Toyota-backed U.S. self-driving startup (Nikkei Asia)

Mizuho Financial to tie up with Google to ramp up digitalization (Kyodo News)

Japan’s land prices see first rise in two years in COVID recovery (Nikkei Asia)

Editorial: Warnings highlight insufficient measures to bolster electricity supply (The Japan News)

Editorial: Reliance on nuclear power is the last thing Japan needs (The Asahi Shimbun)

Flying car startup and Suzuki join forces with eye on India (Nikkei Asia)


Chinese ships spotted near Senkakus for 26th consecutive day (Sankei)

Japan’s advanced stealthy frigate joins naval fleet (Nikkei Asia)

Only 2.4% of Japan’s missile shelters are underground (Sankei)

SDF Act should be revised to enable SDF to protect nuclear facilities: LDP Sato (Nikkei


Prime minister’s schedule on March 22, 2022 (Sankei)

Japan enacts record 107-t.-yen budget (Jiji Press)

Japanese lawmakers outline bill to support women with problems (Jiji Press)


84% say they are “concerned” Russian invasion of Ukraine will lead to China crisis, Sankei-FNN poll (Sankei)

57% approve of govt’s handling of Russian invasion of Ukraine, Sankei-FNN poll (Sankei)

Opinion poll & results from Sankei Shimbun (Sankei)

59% fear attacks on nuclear power plants in Japan, Asahi poll (The Asahi Shimbun)

More Taiwanese believe Japan will aid Taiwan if China invades: poll (Kyodo News)


Editorial: Serious measures needed to overcome climate crisis (The Mainichi)


Japan to extend free COVID test period for asymptomatic people until end of June (The Mainichi)

Japanese lawmakers outline bill to support women with problems (Jiji Press)


Okinawa asks U.S. military to continue enforcing mask mandate on base

According to Okinawa Times, a senior prefectural government official held talks with Col. Neil Owens, the Marine Corps Installations Pacific Government External Affairs Officer, on Tuesday and asked for the reinstatement of a mask mandate for service members on base by citing concerns raised by Japanese base workers and contractors about COVID-19. The request came following the lifting of the mandate on March 14 on account of the drop in infections. The Marine official reportedly explained in reply that the U.S. military’s coronavirus prevention and mitigation protocols on base are in accordance with CDC guidelines, emphasizing that personnel are required to wear masks off base and encouraged to do so in the presence of Japanese employees.

Transplantation of coral reefs completed off Camp Schwab (Ryukyu Shimpo)

U.S. service member arrested on shoplifting charge (Ryukyu Shimpo)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team