Aftermath of 7.3 has Millions Facing Power Outage and Cold Temperatures

Luke 21:11” There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.

Important Takeaways:

  • Earthquake damage, colder weather has millions facing power blackouts in Japan
  • The Tokyo Power Company Holdings, or Tepco, and Japan’s industry ministry said between 2 and 3 million homes could be affected by a power outage because some plants have been offline since the 7.3-magnitude quake on March 16
  • The quake shook Japan, killed at least four people and injured more than 100.

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Since Japan’s 7.4 more aftershocks have occurred

Luke 21:11” There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.

Important Takeaways:

  • Latest quakes in or near Japan in the past 7 days – list, stats and map
    • Past 7 days: 915 quakes
      • 1 quake above magnitude 7
      • 1 quake between magnitude 6 and 7
      • 8 quakes between magnitude 5 and 6
      • 64 quakes between magnitude 4 and 5
      • 299 quakes between magnitude 3 and 4
      • 542 quakes between magnitude 2 and 3

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7.4 Earthquake Causes Semiconductor Supplier to Halt Production for Major Car Companies

Important Takeaways:

  • Toyota, major chip supplier suspend production due to earthquake in Japan
  • The earthquake adds to already tumultuous times for the automotive industry involving supply chain problems due to Covid-19 and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • As companies monitor and assess potential residual impacts of Wednesday’s 7.4 magnitude earthquake on their supply chains, auto companies most immediately impacted included Toyota Motor and Renesas Electronics, a major supplier of semiconductor chips for the automotive industry
  • The world’s largest automaker by volume said 18 production lines at 11 plants (out of 28 lines at 14 plants) would be down for three days next week due to supply problems caused by the earthquake.
  • The Tokyo-based semiconductor supplier said it’s attempting to restart the plants and return them to pre-earthquake production volumes

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Japan backs U.S. during Ukraine crisis

Matthew 24:6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.

Important Takeaways:

  • Russia warns Japan to stay out of Ukraine crisis
  • The growing tensions have global diplomatic ramifications, most recently evidenced by President Joe Biden’s virtual meeting with his Japanese counterpart.
  • “Japan indicated that it — that the United States and Japan are closely aligned on concerns about Russian threats,” the senior administration official said.
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s face-to-face conversation with Lavrov in Geneva. That dialogue produced a commitment to continue discussing possible diplomatic resolutions,
  • Russian officials also reiterated the demand most intolerable to the trans-Atlantic alliance: their insistence that the United States and Western Europe cut their security ties to Eastern European members of NATO, who joined the bloc to seek protection from potential Russian threats

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Saving Taiwan means keeping an expansionist power at bay

Matthew 24:6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.

Important Takeaways:

  • “China wanted Taiwan long before TSMC was churning out chips, and would want it even if TSMC had never existed…. It wants Taiwan because, like Nazi Germany, it is an expansionist power….” — Michael Turton, columnist, Taipei Times, January 10, 2022
  • [A]t a time when China’s Communist Party is attacking democracies, Washington cannot allow Beijing to absorb any one of them, even if it is not home to the world’s leading chipmakers.
  • “Destroying Taiwan’s democracy is essential to giving China’s Communist Party license to destroy all other democracies.” — Richard Fisher to Gatestone, January 2022.
  • If America came to the rescue of Taiwan, it would not be defending just the island; America would be defending itself.
  • America has drawn its western defense perimeter off China’s coast, and Taiwan is smack dab in the middle of that critical line, where the South China and East China Seas meet. Taiwan also protects the southern flank of America’s “cornerstone” ally in East Asia, Japan.

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Russia deploys coastal missile system on island chain near Japan

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia has deployed its Bastion coastal missile defense system to a remote part of the Kuril island chain in the Pacific near Japan, the Ministry of Defense’s Zvezda TV channel said on Thursday.

Japan lays claim to the Russian-held southern Kuril islands that Tokyo calls the Northern Territories, a territorial row that dates back to the end of World War Two when Soviet troops seized them from Japan.

The dispute has prevented them signing a formal peace treaty.

Russia used large landing ships to deliver equipment and personnel to the remote Matua island in the central part of the island chain, Zvezda said.

Russia is trying to beef up its military infrastructure on the island chain, the Ministry of Defense announced in August.

(Reporting by Tom Balmforth and Anton Kolodyazhnyy; editing by Barbara Lewis)

 

Washington caps year of drills to deter China with ten-day military exercise

By Tim Kelly

USS CARL VINSON (Reuters) – The United States on Tuesday completed ten days of joint military drills in Asian waters with Japan and other allies as it ups the ante on deterring China from pursuing its territorial ambitions amid growing tension in the region over Taiwan.

The ANNUALEX drill included 35 warships and dozens of aircraft in the Philippine Sea off Japan’s southern coast. The U.S. and Japanese forces were led by the nuclear-powered USS Carl Vinson carrier, which was also joined by ships from Canada, Australia, and for the first time, Germany. On Tuesday, the Vinson was being shadowed by a Chinese navy ship.

“We try to deter aggression from some nations that are showing burgeoning strength that maybe we haven’t experienced before,” U.S. Seventh Fleet commander Vice Admiral Karl Thomas said at a briefing aboard the carrier.

The exercise was meant to “tell those nations that maybe today is not the day,” he said.

Thomas was accompanied by the commander of the exercise, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Vice Admiral Hideki Yuasa. Home to the biggest concentration of American forces outside the United States, Tokyo is Washington’s key ally in the region.

Increasing pressure by China on Taiwan is causing concern in both Japan and the United States. Japan worries that key sea lanes supplying it will come under Beijing’s sway should it gain control of the island. That move would also threaten U.S. military bases in the region.

China, which views Taiwan as a breakaway province, says its intentions in the region are peaceful.

The ten-day exercise caps a year of drills between the United States, Japan and other countries, including Britain, France, Germany and the Netherlands.

London this year deployed its new $4.15 billion aircraft carrier the HMS Queen Elizabeth to the region, culminating in a visit to Japan in September along with two destroyers, two frigates and a submarine.

To get there, it sailed through the contested South China Sea, of which China claims 90%. Also in September, Britain’s HMS Richmond passed through the Taiwan Strait separating the island from mainland China, prompting a rebuke from Beijing.

Tokyo, in its latest annual defense strategy paper, identifies China as its main national security threat and said it had a “sense of crisis” regarding Taiwan as Chinese military activity around the island intensifies.

The British carrier joined a Japanese carrier, along with the Vinson – which operates F-35 stealth jets – and the USS Ronald Reagan, for a rare four-carrier training exercise in the waters around Japan.

(Reporting by Tim Kelly; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

Japanese volcano spews plumes of ash, people warned away

TOKYO (Reuters) -A volcano erupted in Japan on Wednesday, blasting ash several miles into the sky and prompting officials to warn against the threat of lava flows and falling rocks, but there were no reports of injuries or casualties.

Mount Aso, a tourist destination on the main southern island of Kyushu, sent plumes of ash 3.5 km (2.2 miles) high when it erupted at about 11:43 a.m. (0243 GMT), the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

It raised the alert level for the volcano to 3 on a scale of 5, telling people not to approach, and warned of a risk of large falling rocks and pyroclastic flows within a radius of about 1 km (0.6 mile) around the mountain’s Nakadake crater.

Local police said there were no reports of people injured or missing as of Wednesday evening, and that 16 people who had gone hiking on the mountain earlier on the day came back safely.

Television networks broadcast images of a dark cloud of ash looming over the volcano that swiftly obscured large swathes of the mountain.

Ash falls from the 1,592-metre (5,222-foot) mountain in the prefecture of Kumamoto are expected to shower nearby towns until late afternoon, the weather agency added.

Mount Aso had a small eruption in 2019, while Japan’s worst volcanic disaster in nearly 90 years killed 63 people on Mount Ontake in September 2014.

(Reporting by Ju-min Park, additional reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Kim Coghill)

Japan extends COVID-19 emergency lockdown as cases surge

By Daniel Leussink, Leika Kihara and Sakura Murakami

TOKYO/FUKUOKA, Japan (Reuters) – Japan on Tuesday extended its state of emergency in Tokyo and other regions and announced new measures covering seven more prefectures to counter a spike in COVID-19 infections that is threatening the medical system.

The current state of emergency, the fifth of the pandemic so far, was due to expire on Aug. 31 but will now last until Sept. 12. Tokyo announced 4,377 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, after a record 5,773 on Friday.

“The Delta variant raging across the world is causing unprecedented cases in our country,” Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said. “Serious cases are increasing rapidly and severely burdening the medical system, particularly in the capital region.”

The emergency will now cover nearly 60% of Japan’s population with the prefectures of Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Shizuoka, Kyoto, Hyogo and Fukuoka included. Less strict “quasi-emergency” measures will be applied to a further 10 prefectures.

Restaurants are being asked to close early and stop serving alcohol in exchange for a subsidy. Suga announced a fresh subsidy of 300 billion yen ($2.7 billion) to help businesses cope with the fall-out.

Suga said the government would also request occupancy limits at department stores and ask people to reduce by half the times they go to crowded areas.

Speaking at a news conference explaining the steps, the government’s top health advisor, Shigeru Omi, said Japan needed to come up with steps to “prod individuals to avoid taking action that could potentially spread infections”.

He said that could be done under the current laws, which are mostly based on voluntary cooperation, but added that there’s also room for a nationwide debate on how to do this under a new legal framework”. He did not go into details.

Speaking beside Omi, Suga said the government would consider crafting legislation to swiftly prepare enough hospital beds for critically ill COVID-19 patients, and speed up vaccinations.

Suga dismissed the idea of imposing a blanket, nationwide state of emergency, saying that would pose “excessive restrictions for some prefectures” that were succeeding in containing new infections.

FALLING SHARES

Japanese shares fell for a fourth day on Tuesday as concerns about the Delta variant overshadowed optimism about upbeat earnings.

Japan’s case fatality rate stands at about 1.3%, compared with 1.7% in the United States and 2.1% in Britain.

But health experts fear the number of deaths could soar in Japan as the Delta variant tears through the younger population and hospitals become too crowded to treat serious cases.

“Many experts expressed an extremely strong sense of crisis about the medical care situation and the status of infections,” Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said after consulting with health advisers.

More than 80% of Tokyo’s critical care beds are occupied, and the rate is already 100% in neighboring Kanagawa prefecture. Serious cases climbed to records of 276 in Tokyo and 1,646 nationwide on Tuesday.

Dai-ichi Life Research Institute estimated that the government’s extended and expanded state of emergency would lead to a total economic loss of about 1.2 trillion yen ($11 billion) and could cost 66,000 jobs.

That was about 60% higher than an expected loss of about 750 billion yen if the emergency remained at its current scope and schedule.

Repeated states of emergency have had a limited effect in slowing the spread of the virus.

Takuto Honda, 20, a university student in the southwestern city of Fukuoka who works part-time at a karaoke shop, said a harder lockdown with government pay-outs would be more effective. “If there is money to host the Olympics, there should be money to compensate us,” he said.

Pandemic fatigue and summer vacations have also been blamed for contributing to the latest COVID-19 surge in a nation where only around 37% of people have been fully vaccinated.

(Reporting by Sakura Murakami in FUKUOKA, Daniel Leussink, Leika Kihara and Rocky Swift in TOKYO; Additional reporting by Antoni Slodkowski; Editing by Susan Fenton, Giles Elgood and Mark Heinrich)

Top Japan medic urges nationwide state of emergency amid COVID surge

By Akiko Okamoto, Linda Sieg and Kiyoshi Takenaka

TOKYO (Reuters) – The head of the Japan Medical Association called on Tuesday for a nationwide state of emergency to contain a surge in COVID-19 cases in Olympics host city Tokyo and elsewhere, Kyodo news agency said, as worries grow about a strained healthcare system.

The call by JMA President Toshio Nakagawa followed Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s announcement that only COVID-19 patients who are seriously ill and those at risk of becoming so will be hospitalized, while others isolate at home, a shift in policy some fear could boost the death toll.

Japan has seen a sharp increase in coronavirus cases. Tokyo, which had a record high of 4,058 new infections on Saturday, had another 3,709 new cases on Tuesday.

Tokyo hospitals are already feeling the crunch, Hironori Sagara, director of Showa University Hospital, told Reuters.

“There are those being rejected repeatedly for admission,” he said in an interview. “In the midst of excitement over the Olympics, the situation for medical personnel is very severe.”

Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told reporters fewer elderly people, most already vaccinated, were getting infected.

“On the other hand, infections of younger people are increasing and people in their 40s and 50s with severe symptoms are rising,” he said, adding some could not immediately get admitted to hospital.

Suga announced the change in hospital policy on Monday, saying the government would ensure people isolating at home can be hospitalized if necessary. Previous policy had focused on hospitalizing a broader category of patients.

Suga and Olympics organizers say there is no link between the July 23-Aug. 8 Summer Games and the sharp increase in cases.

Medical experts, however, have said holding the Olympics sent a confusing message about the need to stay home, contributing to the rise.

Unlike the voluntary restrictions and low vaccination rates elsewhere in Japan, more than 80% of the people in the Olympic village in Tokyo for athletes and coaches are vaccinated, testing is compulsory and movement is curtailed.

Organisers on Tuesday announced 18 new Games-related COVID-19 cases, bringing the total since July 1 to 294.

‘IN-HOME ABANDONMENT’

On Tuesday, Suga, meeting with heads of national medical groups, vowed to “protect people’s lives”.

“The spreading infections on a nationwide scale are approaching our biggest crisis since last year’s first wave,” Nakagawa said.

Some worry the hospital policy shift could lead to more deaths.

“They call it in-home treatment but it’s actually in-home abandonment,” opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan leader Yukio Edano was quoted as saying by NHK public TV.

Japan on Monday expanded its state of emergency to include three prefectures near Tokyo and the western prefecture of Osaka. An existing emergency in Tokyo – its fourth since the pandemic began – and Okinawa is now set to last through Aug. 31.

Japan’s latest emergency steps, unlike stricter measures in many countries, have focused mainly on asking eateries that serve alcohol to close and those that don’t to close by 8 p.m.

The country has avoided a devastating outbreak of the virus, with about 941,000 total cases and just over 15,000 deaths as of Monday.

But it is now struggling to contain the highly transmissible Delta variant even as the public grows weary of mostly voluntary limits on activities and the vaccination rollout lags.

Just under 30% of the population is fully vaccinated, including three-quarters of those 65 and over.

Nearly 70% of hospital beds for seriously ill COVID-19 patients were filled as of Sunday, Tokyo data showed.

Showa University Hospital’s Sagara said there was a difference between theoretically available beds and beds that could accept patients immediately.

“I think the latter is close to zero,” he said, adding that if infections keep rising, hospitals will have to limit surgery and other non-COVID-19 treatments.

“We must avoid a situation in which the Olympics was held but the medical system collapsed,” he said. “At present, infections are spreading quite a lot and if they spike further, (the Olympics) will be considered a failure.”

According to health ministry guidelines, seriously ill patients are defined as those admitted to intensive care units (ICUs) or needing artificial respirators.

The Tokyo Shimbun newspaper said 12,000 patients were isolating at home, a 12-fold increase in the past month.

(Reporting by Linda Sieg, Akiko Okamoto and Kiyoshi Takenaka; Additional reporting by Ritsuko Ando, Ami Miyazaki and Tim Kelly; Editing by Gerry Doyle and Nick Macfie)