We’re covering the race to succeed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Japan, the huge growth in coronavirus cases in India and a third Sunday of mass protests in Belarus.
Shinzo Abe’s successor won’t have it easy
The prime minister of Japan announced his resignation on Friday, leaving office a year early with no obvious successor.
The eventual replacement for Mr. Abe, who cited ill health in his decision, will confront many challenges without having the stature that Mr. Abe has built over a record-setting run of nearly eight years.
Myriad troubles: The Japanese economy has taken a nosedive. The coronavirus could yet rage out of control and force a second postponement of the Olympics. Chinese military aggression is rising in the region just as the U.S., Japan’s closest ally, is embroiled in a polarizing presidential election. “It makes me wonder why anybody would want to be prime minister,” said Jeffrey Hornung, an analyst at the RAND Corporation.
Wannabes: There is no shortage of aspirants. Those who have already announced their desire to stand for prime minister include Fumio Kishida, a former foreign minister; Toshimitsu Motegi, the current foreign minister; Taro Kono, the defense minister; Shigeru Ishiba, a former defense minister who once ran against Mr. Abe for the leadership of the Liberal Democratic Party.
The list also includes two women — Seiko Noda, a member of the lower house of Parliament, and Tomomi Inada, another former defense minister — but the possibility of a female prime minister appears remote.
India’s outbreak is now the world’s fastest-growing
With more than 75,000 new infections per day, India’s coronavirus caseload is growing at a faster rate than that of any other country.
The U.S. and Brazil have the world’s largest outbreaks over all, but they have been reporting in the range of 40,000 to 50,000 new daily infections in recent days.
“Everything right now is indicating toward a massive surge in the caseload in coming days,” said Dr. Anant Bhan, a health researcher at Melaka Manipal Medical College in southern India. “What is more worrying is we are inching toward the No. 1 spot globally.”
On a per capita basis, however, India has had far fewer deaths from the virus than the U.S. and Brazil as well as many other countries.
Factors: One reason India is reporting a steep rise in infections now is because it has sharply increased testing, reaching nearly a million tests a day compared with 200,000 a day two months ago. Another reason: Crowded cities, lockdown fatigue and a lack of contact tracing have spread the virus to every corner of the vast country.
Global confirmed cases have surpassed 25 million, reaching 25,020,700, according to a Times database, and at least 842,700 people have died from the virus.
Millions of pupils in Britain will be returning to the classrooms this week, many for the first time since March, raising fears of a new spike in infections.
California has become the first U.S. state to pass 700,000 known coronavirus cases, according to a New York Times database, even as its infection rate continues a steep decline.
With an eye on China, Taiwan builds up its military
Military tensions across the Taiwan Strait have surged in recent months as Taiwan has increasingly become a focal point in the confrontation between China and the U.S. In response, Taiwan’s leaders are moving to shake up the military and increase spending.
President Tsai Ing-wen is taking action to strengthen Taiwan’s reserves, a force that would be crucial to defending the island against any invasion. This month, the government announced that it would increase the defense budget by 10 percent, after a 5 percent increase the year before.
Taiwan also finalized a deal to buy 66 American F-16 fighter jets, worth $62 billion, over the next 10 years.
A growing threat: Chinese aircraft and warships have in recent months conducted drills intended as a warning to Taiwan, while Chinese officials have compared its military to “an ant trying to shake a tree.” “The likelihood of a military clash is much higher than before,” said Lin Yu-fang, a former legislator from the Kuomintang, the party that governed Taiwan for decades but is now in opposition.
If you have 6 minutes, this is worth it
A guardian of Africa’s migrant dead
When the bodies of unidentified migrants wash up on the beaches around Nador, a city on Morocco’s Mediterranean coast, they usually go unclaimed at the local morgue. Boubacar Wann Diallo, above, a migrant from Guinea, has made it his life’s work to see that they are identified and get proper burials.
He reaches out to families for photographs, seeks help from consulates and embassies, and has set up a Facebook page with postings to remember the dead. “It’s a joy for me to bury them,” said Mr. Wann Diallo in this profile that highlights the racism and danger faced by migrants, even before they reach Europe.
Here’s what else is happening
Portland shooting: A man wearing a hat with the insignia of a right-wing group was shot and killed on Saturday as a large group of supporters of President Trump drove a caravan into Oregon’s largest city, which has seen nightly protests against police violence and racism. Mr. Trump reiterated his call that the National Guard should be brought in.
TikTok: As the sale of the video app to a U.S. buyer enters its final stages, China updated its export control rules, and state media published a commentary suggesting that the change could require the app’s owner, ByteDance, to get a license to sell — moves that signaled China’s intention to dictate the terms of any potential deal.
Banksy migrant rescue ship: A rescue vessel funded by the British street artist became overloaded and had to evacuate more than 200 migrants in the central Mediterranean — most of them to a fellow humanitarian vessel. Banksy accused European officials of ignoring maritime distress calls from non-Europeans.
Snapshot: Above, protesters in Minsk, Belarus, on Sunday, who chanted “Go Away!” as they pressed demands for President Aleksandr Lukashenko to step down. Despite a crackdown, anger against Mr. Lukashenko over a disputed Aug. 9 election does not appear to be abating.
The Coronavirus Outbreak ›
Frequently Asked Questions
Updated August 27, 2020
What should I consider when choosing a mask?
- There are a few basic things to consider. Does it have at least two layers? Good. If you hold it up to the light, can you see through it? Bad. Can you blow a candle out through your mask? Bad. Do you feel mostly OK wearing it for hours at a time? Good. The most important thing, after finding a mask that fits well without gapping, is to find a mask that you will wear. Spend some time picking out your mask, and find something that works with your personal style. You should be wearing it whenever you’re out in public for the foreseeable future. Read more: What’s the Best Material for a Mask?
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
- In the beginning, the coronavirus seemed like it was primarily a respiratory illness — many patients had fever and chills, were weak and tired, and coughed a lot, though some people don’t show many symptoms at all. Those who seemed sickest had pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome and received supplemental oxygen. By now, doctors have identified many more symptoms and syndromes. In April, the C.D.C. added to the list of early signs sore throat, fever, chills and muscle aches. Gastrointestinal upset, such as diarrhea and nausea, has also been observed. Another telltale sign of infection may be a sudden, profound diminution of one’s sense of smell and taste. Teenagers and young adults in some cases have developed painful red and purple lesions on their fingers and toes — nicknamed “Covid toe” — but few other serious symptoms.
Why does standing six feet away from others help?
- The coronavirus spreads primarily through droplets from your mouth and nose, especially when you cough or sneeze. The C.D.C., one of the organizations using that measure, bases its recommendation of six feet on the idea that most large droplets that people expel when they cough or sneeze will fall to the ground within six feet. But six feet has never been a magic number that guarantees complete protection. Sneezes, for instance, can launch droplets a lot farther than six feet, according to a recent study. It’s a rule of thumb: You should be safest standing six feet apart outside, especially when it’s windy. But keep a mask on at all times, even when you think you’re far enough apart.
I have antibodies. Am I now immune?
- As of right now, that seems likely, for at least several months. There have been frightening accounts of people suffering what seems to be a second bout of Covid-19. But experts say these patients may have a drawn-out course of infection, with the virus taking a slow toll weeks to months after initial exposure. People infected with the coronavirus typically produce immune molecules called antibodies, which are protective proteins made in response to an infection. These antibodies may last in the body only two to three months, which may seem worrisome, but that’s perfectly normal after an acute infection subsides, said Dr. Michael Mina, an immunologist at Harvard University. It may be possible to get the coronavirus again, but it’s highly unlikely that it would be possible in a short window of time from initial infection or make people sicker the second time.
I’m a small-business owner. Can I get relief?
- The stimulus bills enacted in March offer help for the millions of American small businesses. Those eligible for aid are businesses and nonprofit organizations with fewer than 500 workers, including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and freelancers. Some larger companies in some industries are also eligible. The help being offered, which is being managed by the Small Business Administration, includes the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. But lots of folks have not yet seen payouts. Even those who have received help are confused: The rules are draconian, and some are stuck sitting on money they don’t know how to use. Many small-business owners are getting less than they expected or not hearing anything at all.
What are my rights if I am worried about going back to work?
What we’re reading: This article in Soundings about how U.S. boaters made it home from the Caribbean as the coronavirus closed islands and their waters. “This opened a window on another world,” writes Gina Lamb, a Special Sections editor. “Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop.”
Now, a break from the news
Do: You can build your own tossing game from newspaper and tape. Here’s how to make a catapult launcher and a basket target.
Our At Home collection has lots of great ideas about how to stay occupied while staying safe at home.
And now for the Back Story on …
How Americans abroad can vote
Of the 4.8 million Americans who live abroad, 2.9 million are eligible to vote, but their turnout is consistently low. This year, the pandemic is making voting more complicated.
Canada, Britain, Israel, France, Australia and Japan have large numbers of eligible U.S. voters. Here’s a look at how to vote from abroad in the November elections.
Request your ballot as early as possible — like, today.
If you’re an overseas voter, it’s good practice to fill out a Federal Post Card Application at the start of each calendar year to ensure you’re on the rolls for all primary, general and special elections in your state. (Overseas Americans generally vote in the state where they last lived, even if they no longer have any ties to that location.) But if you haven’t done that yet, it’s not too late.
Cutoff dates for requesting your ballot vary by state, but they are as early as Oct. 3, so don’t put this off.
Do as much online as possible.
At a time when both international and U.S. mail services are in a state of disarray, it’s best to avoid them altogether. Submitting your ballot request online is a good start, and it is allowed in almost every state.
Have a backup plan.
If you don’t receive your ballot by Sept. 19, contact your local election official (check your spam folder, too). In the meantime, you can fill out the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot, which serves as a backup specifically for overseas voters, and send it by mail, fax or email according to the same rules as your official ballot.
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
To Melissa Clark for the recipe, and to Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the rest of the break from the news. You can reach the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is on Donald Trump Jr’s journey to Republican stardom.
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• The August issue of The New York Times for Kids, which was published on Sunday, featured a package centered on race and racism.