|Afternoon Alert - Wednesday, April 13, 2022|
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Broadcasters led with reports on the intensifying Russian attacks in eastern Ukraine (NHK, Fuji TV), Secretary of State Blinken's remark that although the United States is not in the position to confirm the use of chemical weapons in Ukraine, it is working with its allies to determine what actually happened (NTV), President Biden's remark that President Putin committed "genocide" in Ukraine (TBS), and the arrest of a Putin ally by the Ukrainian authorities (TV Asahi).
Matsuno denies reports that Japan asked to join AUKUS
Jiji reported that Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno denied a media report that Japan was approached by the United States, the UK, and Australia about the possibility of joining their trilateral security pact AUKUS. He reportedly said at a press conference today: "It is not true that we've been sounded out on the possibility of joining [AUKUS]."
CCS Matsuno comments on Biden’s calling Russia’s war in Ukraine “genocide”
All networks reported at noon that President Biden used the word "genocide" when describing the Russian military's actions in Ukraine during a speech he delivered in Iowa on Tuesday. The President reportedly said: “Your family budget, your ability to fill up your tank, none of it should hinge on whether a dictator declares war and commits genocide a half a world away.” The networks said the President later told reporters he intentionally used the word "genocide" in his speech, adding, however, that he would “let the lawyers decide internationally whether or not it qualifies.”
Mainichi and Sankei took up remarks made to the press this morning by Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno regarding President Biden’s use of the term “genocide.” “Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court, who are tasked with indicting and punishing those who have committed heinous crimes, have launched investigations concerning genocide and other crimes in cooperation with the Ukrainian authorities,” the government spokesman was quoted as saying. “We expect that progress will be made in these investigations. It has become clear that there have been repeated instances of brutal acts, including the massacre of innocent civilians in Mariupol and other places across Ukraine. The truth behind such barbaric actions must be uncovered.”
In a related development, NHK and TBS reported that the Justice Ministry plans to dispatch three prosecutors to the International Criminal Court to help it conduct investigations into war crimes allegedly committed in Ukraine by Russian forces. One of them has reportedly been assigned to the Hague-based court as “special advisor.”
U.S., Japan to exclude Russian COVID-19 vaccines from assistance program
Kyodo reported that the governments of the United States and Japan have decided to exclude Russian products from a bilateral program for assisting developing nations with procuring, manufacturing, and rolling out coronavirus vaccines. According to an informed source, the two governments are expected to convey to India that they will not help it finance the domestic production of Russian vaccines such as the Sputnik V. The article said the policy is a further sanction against Russia in response to its war on Ukraine.
President Biden to meet with families of abductees in Japan
Fuji TV reported this morning that coordination is underway for President Biden to meet with the families of the Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea when he visits Japan in late May. The network said that according to a GOJ source, arrangements are being made for the President to arrive in Japan on May 22, hold a summit with Prime Minister Kishida and meet with the families of the abductees on May 23, and attend the Quad summit on May 24.
• Kishida eyes Southeast Asia tour to drum up Russia sanctions support (Nikkei Asia)
• Former Chief Cabinet Secretary Kawamura meets with aide to ROK President-elect (Sankei)
• Japan OKs asset freezes on Putin’s daughters, 396 other Russians (Kyodo News)
• Editorial: Crisis in Ukraine reinforces vigilance against China’s ambitions (The Japan News)
• China’s ‘zero-COVID’ policy putting global economy at risk (The Japan News)
Japan partially surrenders sovereignty in concluding visiting forces accord with Australia
Asahi took up the reciprocal access agreement signed between Japan and Australia in January, claiming that Tokyo gave up part of its sovereignty because visiting Australian service members suspected of committing heinous crimes off duty in Japan will be tried in Australia. Due to Japan’s death penalty system, the provision was incorporated in the pact, which makes it easier for the nations' military personnel to operate in each other's country for training or disaster relief. Canberra abolished the death penalty in 1985. The accord stipulates that the custody of visiting Australian troops involved in crimes and accidents off duty will be transferred to the Japanese side even prior to indictment except in cases where the Australian side believes there is a “sufficient possibility” that the suspect would be sentenced to death if he or she were tried in Japan. The daily projected that the more heinous the crime is, the more likely it is that the Australian suspect will be able to escape Japan’s justice system on account of its death penalty.
• Japan enacts law to allow SDF to engage in foreigner-only rescues (Kyodo News)
• Chinese ships intrude into Japan’s territorial waters near Senkakus (Sankei)
• Satellite images show North Korea’s path back to nuclear testing (Nikkei Asia)
• U.S., U.K., Australia sound out Japan on its joining AUKUS (Sankei)
• Exclusively defense-oriented policy must be preserved: Komeito leader (Sankei)
• US nuclear aircraft carrier, Japan’s MSDF conduct joint drill (NHK WORLD)
• 99% of cases of suspicious computer access originated overseas in 2021: NPA (Nikkei)
• Views on U.S. military bases in Okinawa differ by age group (Yomiuri)
Diet begins deliberating legislation on sanctions against Russia
All national papers reported that on Tuesday parliamentary deliberations commenced on two bills aimed at penalizing Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. The legislation is intended to strip Moscow of its most favored trading nation status and prevent it from using cryptocurrency in evading financial sanctions. On the proposed revision of the two existing laws, Prime Minister Kishida said during a Lower House plenary session: “It is very important for Japan to clearly demonstrate its commitment to taking stern measures in close solidarity with the international community.” The GOJ and the ruling coalition are hoping to pass the legislation at an early date
• Prime minister’s schedule on April 12, 2022 (Sankei)
• Kishida meeting often with businesspeople (Sankei)
• Editorial: Time to end Japan’s ‘93% isolation’ and allow foreign visitors (Nikkei Asia)
• Japanese Communist Party leader rushes to justify policy of using SDF in invasion of Japan (The Japan News)
Japan’s companies having difficulty passing higher costs on to consumers
Nikkei reported on the latest BOJ data showing that the producer price index, which indicates the cost of goods traded among companies, rose 9.5% in March from a year ago, as the war in Ukraine is sending prices for energy and raw materials soaring. The index has increased more than 5% for 10 consecutive months. While the same index hit 9.7% in February, a level not seen in more than 40 years, the consumer price index for the same month was only 0.9%. This means that Japanese companies have not been able to pass higher raw material costs on to consumers by raising sales prices. The 8.8-point gap between the producer and consumer indexes was four times higher than that of the United States, which was only 2.1 points. The daily said that if such a trend continues, the Japanese manufacturing industry will end up losing 14.1 trillion yen ($112 billion) in revenue this year, emphasizing that unless higher costs are shouldered by consumers, businesses will have no choice but to reduce staffs or cut salaries, which would also lead to dismal consumer spending and prolonged price deflation.
• Kishida hints at further n-power use amid Ukrainian crisis (Jiji Press)
• Keidanren Vice Chair Katanozaka: Ensure economic security bill supports freedom of corporate activities (Asahi)
• Tight electricity supply forecast in winter in Japan (Jiji Press)
• Tottori Prefecture granted right to request halting of operations at Shimane Nuclear Plant (Tokyo Shimbun evening edition)
• Quantum computing ambition: Japan aims for 10m users by 2030 (Nikkei Asia)
• Expert warns Japan has long road to regain foreign students’ trust after 2-yr entry ban (The Mainichi)
• U.S. human rights report says China continues “genocide” on Uyghurs (Kyodo News)
• Many foreign children in Japan enrolled in special-needs classes for ‘language’ reasons (The Mainichi)
• Cartoon: The charge of the BA.2 Brigade (Tokyo Shimbun)
OKINAWA LOCAL PRESS
Okinawa leader holds talks with top Marine official
Ryukyu Shimpo and Okinawa Times highlighted a courtesy call paid on Governor Tamaki by the Okinawa Area Coordinator, Marine Lt. Gen. Bierman, on Tuesday. The Marine official reportedly proposed establishing a bilateral framework for discussions so that the two sides can exchange opinions regularly to address and resolve problems related to training and bases. While welcoming what he called the military officer’s “constructive” proposal, the governor conveyed his concerns about a broad range of issues, such as noise pollution at MCAS Futenma and Kadena AB, PFAS contamination around U.S. installations, COVID-19 prevention protocols on base, and flight training. The general reportedly promised to reduce the impact of training and operations on local residents as much as possible. The governor invited Bierman to attend the May 15 ceremony on Okinawa reversion. This was the first meeting between the two officials since the general assumed his post last November.
• Ginowan chief presses governor to compromise over Futenma relocation (Okinawa Times, Ryukyu Shimpo)
• Diet to adopt motion on Okinawa reversion (Okinawa Times, Ryukyu Shimpo)
|U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team|