Japan Digest #353

1.    Japanese Government Decided To Go Back To Normal Life


The Kishida Administration held a Covid-17 Countermeasure H.Q.’s meeting on January 27 and decided to lift the restriction that had been imposed on large scale events such as professional baseball games and music concerts on condition that event organizers implement necessary precautions against infection such as having spectators wear a mask, etc. 

In the past, for events where spectators were supposed to loudly cheer for players or musicians, the number of such spectators was restricted to be 50% or less of the full capacity of the stadium. 

Or, full capacity of spectators could come but no cheering.

J1 League, Japan’s professional soccer league will begin the season on February 17 and 2023 World Baseball Classic will start the first Tokyo Round on March 9 while Japan’s professional baseball season will begin on March 30. 

Spectators of those events will fill up individual stadiums with loud cheering. 

In the meantime, the government also decided to change the category of Covid-19 from Type 5 (pandemic) under the Infection Law down to Type 2 of infectious diseases such as seasonal flu etc.  

It becomes effective on May 8.  After that, wearing a mask inside the building is totally up to each individual’s discretion.


2.   Japan-NATO Security Cooperation Reconfirmed


NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg visited Japan this week to seek for deepening security cooperation with Japan under its Individual Partnership Cooperation Plan to counter China and Russia. 

Last June, PM Kishida participated in NATO’s Summit Meeting and stated that he would transform the IPCP with NATO comprehensively.

Stoltenberg met PM Kishida on January 31 and the two made a joint statement including the following points: 


l  The security of the Transatlantic Ocean and that of the Indo-Pacific Ocean are closely related.

l  Japan welcomes NATO’s commitment to strengthen its relationship with the Indo-Pacific region.

l  NATO and Japan strongly condemn Russian invasion of Ukraine.  The two are concerned about the military collaboration between Russia and China.

l  NATO and Japan reconfirm to cooperate in new security issues such as cybersecurity, space, false information and so forth.


3.  Unprecedented Countermeasure Of Declining Number Of Newly Born Babies


As reported in one of past digests, the number of new babies born in Japan last year was below 800,000 as opposed to around 2,700,000 in 1949 when baby-boomers were born.   

The Kishida Administration and the ruling LDP are rushing into new policies to boost up Japan’s birth rate, which is around 1.3 in 2021. 

At the Diet where this year’s ordinary session is being held, heated arguments are going on about how to financially and medically assist young couples, families and single mothers. 

This issue is closely related to the declining number of marriage, which has been caused by various social and financial reasons. 

The administration will organize a new roundtable by this March to come up with a comprehensive plan, and PM Kishida claims to make the plan an unprecedented countermeasure of declining number of newly born babies, meaning to give the plan a highest priority of budget though he haven’t clarified its source of funding yet.


4.  Tokyo’s Inflation Hit 4.3%


According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Telecommunication’s CPI of downtown Tokyo that was announced on January 27, January’s consumer prices except for fresh food went up by 4.3% in comparison with the same month last year. 

Among others, gas price increased by 39.7%, cooking oil 36.3%, grilled fish 29.0%, electricity 24.6%, and hamburger of chained shops jumped by 18.3%.  



5. Japanese Labor Market Eventually Rebounded After The Pandemic


Since 2020, Japan’s active job opening ratio had been declining, but the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Labor announced on January 31 that the ratio of 2022 went up to 1.28 from 1.13 of 2021 and 1.18 of 2020. 

The active job opening ratio of 2019 before the pandemic was 1.60, so the labor market hasn’t be heated back fully yet.   

Unemployment rate was also recovered to 2.6% in 2022 in comparison with 2.8% in 2021.



Have a wonderful weekend!