Afternoon Alert   -   Friday, April 1, 2022
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All networks led with reports on the situation in Ukraine, including Russian troops’ reported withdrawal from the Chornobyl nuclear power plant. Fuji TV reported on Ukrainian President Zelenskyy’s tweet on Thursday saying: “High time to finally discard the outdated Soviet spelling of our cities and adopt the correct Ukrainian form. Grateful to Japan and @kishida230 for already doing so and encourage others to follow. #KyivNotKiev”


GOJ to provide additional assistance to Ukrainian evacuees

TV Asahi reported that the GOJ has decided to provide additional assistance to Ukrainian evacuees. The network said the GOJ decided at a cabinet meeting today to provide goods to the UNHCR, which is offering humanitarian assistance in Ukraine and its neighboring nations. Japan will reportedly offer the organization 5,000 blankets, 4,500 plastic sheets, and 8,500 sleeping mats free of charge. Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno reportedly told the press today: "As Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine, the need for humanitarian assistance in the country is increasing, and the neighboring nations that are accepting refugees from Ukraine are facing difficulties. We will continue to provide assistance to the neighboring nations that are accepting evacuees."

Kishida stresses need for strong sanctions on Russia

NHK reported that Prime Minister Kishida remarked at an Upper House plenary session today that it is important for the international community to impose strong sanctions on Russia in a coordinated manner to persuade Moscow to stop its invasion of Ukraine and that he will continue to urge nations in Asia to participate in this global effort. Kishida reportedly added that Japan has been calling on China to act responsibly and that as the only G7 nation from Asia, Japan will act appropriately to close loopholes.

Japan imposes additional sanctions on North Korea over missile development

NHK reported that in response to North Korea’s launch of an ICBM on March 24, the GOJ decided at a cabinet meeting on Friday that it will impose additional sanctions on North Korea by freezing the assets of four Russian entities and six North Korean and three Russian individuals for their involvement in Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs. The network said that the United States has already designated these entities and individuals as targets of its asset freeze. Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno told reporters: “North Korea is increasing its nuclear and missile activities. It has taken no specific steps to resolve the abductions. Japan urges the DPRK to take concrete actions to address such concerns as the nation’s abductions of Japanese nationals and its nuclear and missile development. We will seek denuclearization of North Korea in close cooperation with the United States, South Korea, and the rest of the international community.”

GOJ decides on specific steps to extend assistance to Ukraine evacuees

NHK reported that the GOJ decided at a meeting of relevant cabinet ministers this morning on specific steps Japan will take to assist Ukrainian evacuees. The meeting decided that the Foundation for the Welfare and Education of the Asian People, which has expertise in supporting refugees, will be in charge of providing accommodations, living expenses, and other necessities to evacuees soon after their arrival in Japan. The organization will later serve as a liaison in introducing the evacuees to municipalities and businesses offering accommodations and other support. Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno, who chaired the meeting, told the participants that Foreign Minister Hayashi, State Minister of Justice Tsushima, and Special Advisor to the Prime Minister for international human rights issues Nakatani will depart for Poland this evening to prepare for Japan’s acceptance of the evacuees. Matsuno instructed the relevant cabinet ministers to provide the necessary support to those who are relying on Japan after fleeing Ukraine amid severe circumstances.

U.S. freezes assets of 21 entities, 13 individuals to crackdown on Russia’s sanctions evasion

NHK reported that the Department of the Treasury released a statement on Thursday saying that it is designating 21 entities and 13 individuals as part of its crackdown on Russia’s sanctions evasion networks and technology companies, which are instrumental to Russia’s war machine. According to the statement, the 21 entities include Moscow-based companies that work to illicitly procure dual-use equipment and technology for Russia’s defense sector and its largest chipmaker. The network said that the latest sanction will enhance the effectiveness of the United States’ designation on March 24 of dozens of companies in Russia’s defense-industrial base that are directly supporting the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The broadcaster quoted Secretary of State Blinken as saying in a statement: “We will continue to target President Putin’s war machine with sanctions from every angle, until this senseless war of choice is over.”

China, Solomon Islands agree to conclude security pact amid concern from neighbors

NHK reported that the governments of the Solomon Islands and China announced on Thursday that they have agreed to conclude a bilateral security pact. The network said that although the details of the pact are not yet available, an Australian media outlet has reported that the draft agreement includes a clause allowing Chinese navy ships and defense forces to be deployed in the Solomon Islands. The network said that the island nation has been deepening its ties with China since 2019 when it broke diplomatic relations with Taiwan and established them with China. The Australian media said that the move would help China to expand its military influence in the South Pacific and that Australia and New Zealand have expressed concern. China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a news conference on Thursday that Pacific island countries are not an arena for major-power rivalry and that attempts to obstruct and undermine China’s friendly relations with island countries will never succeed.

Japan to help Kuwait step up oil production (Jiji Press)

Editorial: Dire need to protect nuclear nonproliferation regime (The Asahi Shimbun)

Editorial: Don’t tolerate Myanmar’s ‘rule by force’ that capitalizes on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (The Japan News)

“We will continue to accept Ukrainian refugees,” Moldovan Ambassador to Japan (Mainichi)

Japan must impose embargo on Russian oil and gas: Ukraine ex-PM (Nikkei Asia)

Infographic: Companies’ outlook for their Russian operations over next 6 to 12 months (Sankei)

Infographic: Suppliers of crude oil to Japan (2021) (Mainichi)

Japan has no legal stipulation for “evacuees” (Nikkei)

Commentary: Biden joins the Putin and Xi miscalculation club (The Japan Times)

Cartoon: Paranoia in the Kremlin (Asahi)


Japan Coast Guard decides to introduce U.S. drone SeaGuardian

NTV said it learned that the Japan Coast Guard has decided to introduce the SeaGuardian drone, manufactured by General Atomics of the United States, in order to strengthen surveillance of Chinese and other foreign fishing vessels and suspicious boats conducting illegal fishing in areas surrounding Japan. According to the network, the Japan Coast Guard will allocate about 4 billion yen ($3.3 million) to purchase the drone. The network said the Japan Coast Guard is planning to deploy the drone mainly at the MSDF's Hachinohe Air Base and hopes to put it into operation in October.

“Anti-war protests” are new elements in war, GSDF (Mainichi)

Editorial: Steady progress must be made in shaping the future of Okinawan development (The Japan News)

U.S. military plane performs mid-air refueling in skies over Kofu (Akahata)

NPA names Kawahara as new head of cyber police bureau (Nikkei)

BOJ to investigate financial institutions on cybersecurity risks (Nikkei)

Japan gears up unit for international cybercrime investigations (The Japan News)

Editorial: Create deterrence that won’t allow forcible attempts to change status quo (The Japan News)


Industry Minister Hagiuda says Japan will not withdraw from oil, gas projects in Russia

NHK reported that Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hagiuda told reporters this morning that Japan will not withdraw from the Sakhalin-1 and Sakhalin-2 offshore oil and natural gas projects in the Russian Far East because they are critically important for Japan’s energy security. Hagiuda explained that Japan depends on Middle East nations for 90% of its crude oil imports and that Sakhalin-1 is an important supply source outside the Middle East. He also said that LNG from Sakhalin-2 accounts for 9% of Japan’s LNG imports. The minister added that Japan is also not planning to withdraw from Arctic LNG 2, in which Mitsui & Co. and Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) are participating.

USTR report cites Japan’s “high” tariffs on rice, dairy products (Kyodo News)

Japan lists 7 items for supply action over current Russia dependence (Kyodo News)

Big Tech in sharper focus for new Japan antitrust team (Nikkei Asia)

METI to draw up roadmap for innovative next-generation nuclear reactor (Sankei)

Wakayama City Assembly approves IR project (Mainichi)

Food inflation takes bigger bite in Japan, with bread leading way (Nikkei Asia)

Editorial: Focus policy priority on those hardest hit by rising prices (The Asahi Shimbun)

Japan’s long-term gov’t debt may be at worst level of $8 tril. (Kyodo News)

U.S. and Japan to ask ASEAN to help avert next chip crisis (Nikkei Asia)

Editorial: Blackout warning signals Japan’s energy shortage (Japan Forward)


Prime minister’s schedule on March 31, 2022 (Sankei)

Former financial services minister Ito joins Motegi faction (Nikkei)

Interview with DPFP leader Tamaki: CDPJ should clarify their relationship is JCP (Sankei)

LDP drafts proposal for use of new digital technology (Mainichi)

TMPD to reshuffle organized crime unit (Mainichi)

Editorial: Sudden vaccine minister switch risks hobbling Japan’s COVID response (The Mainichi)


The space(port) race: Asian nations jostle for rocket launch business (Nikkei Asia)

New law requires major companies in Japan to reduce disposable plastics from April 1 (The Mainichi)

METI to designate model petrochemical complexes to promote decarbonization (Yomiuri)


Infographic: Trend in no. of Japanese students studying abroad (Mainichi evening edition)

School is back in Japan. At last, so are foreign students. (The Japan Times)


BA.2 concerns rise as COVID-19 cases increase in 37 prefectures (The Asahi Shimbun)

As Japan looks to possible fourth COVID shots, hesitancy and disinformation linger (The Japan Times)

Japan’s revised Juvenile Law takes effect as age of adulthood lowered to 18 (The Japan Times)

Sri Lanka trainee takes maternity leave, gives birth in Japan (Kyodo News)

Gangs have had their heyday in Japan, or have they? (The Asahi Shimbun)


U.S. soldier allegedly points gun at Ryukyu Shimpo photographer

Ryukyu Shimpo gave front-page play to a report on base security drills held at the Naha Port Facility by the U.S. Army on Thursday afternoon, saying that armed U.S. soldiers were visible patrolling the facility from Route 331. Ryukyu Shimpo published a color photo of a soldier allegedly pointing his gun at its photographer. The daily said that although the U.S. military gave prior notice of the drills to the Okinawa Defense Bureau, the Japanese side was not informed that the soldiers would be armed. According to Okinawa prefecture, the 835th Transportation Battalion stationed at the Naha Port Facility conducted the training, which was one of the regular U.S. military exercises. Okinawa Times also reported on the drill.

ASDF permanently deploys radar unit to Yonaguni, Okinawa (Okinawa Times, Ryukyu Shimpo)

U.S. Marine in Okinawa arrested for DUI (Ryukyu Shimpo)

Woman claims she was sexually assaulted by servicemember in Okinawa and he was not charged (Okinawa Times)

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team