Japan Digest #354

1.        Government to Promote Returning To Normal Life Without Mask Right Before Graduation


The Kishida Administration announced this week that the government would lift its suggestion of wearing a mask effective on March 13 so that students who graduate in this coming March and their parents are not required to wear a mask at their graduation ceremony any more. 

It, however, continues to suggest to wear a mask in a train car or bus during the rush hours as well as in hospital or care house for senior people.  

NHK’s monthly survey conducted in this month revealed that 50% of the respondents would continue to wear a mask as precaution even after March 13.   


2.   Kishida Hopes The Declining Approval Ratings Are Bouncing Back


According to NHK’s monthly survey that was conducted from February 10 through 12, the approval rating of the Kishida Cabinet edged up by 3 points to 36% from January, while its disapproval rating went down by 4 points to 41%. 

58% approved his decision to categorize Covid-19 down to the one same as a seasonal flue. 

40% agreed his plan to increase defense spending by 160% in the coming five years while another 40% disagreed.

69% approved his policy to double the budget to counter the declining trend of the number of children, and 55% accepted to bear additional tax for the child policy.  

54% agreed to legalize same sex marriage, while 29% disagreed it, the survey found.


3.  Japan And Philippine Agreed To Strengthen Security Cooperation Against China


Philippine’s President Ferdinand Marcos Jr visited Japan this week and met with PM Kishida on February 9 at PM’s House.

Sharing the concern of China’s aggressive presence in the East and South China Seas, the two agreed to strengthen the mutual security collaboration.

Concretely, the agreement includes promoting Japan-U.S.-Philippine’s trilateral counselling and Japan’s participation in the U.S.-Philippine joint exercises.

The two also agreed to conclude a comprehensive framework that facilitates Japan’s Self Defense Force and Filipino military force’s joint logistical operations.  


4.  Economist To Lead Bank Of Japan For The First Time


The Kishida Administration presented to the Diet on February 14 its plan to appoint Dr. Kazuo Ueda, Economist as Governor of the Bank of Japan. 

The current governor Kuroda is finishing his term on April 8.

Mr. Ueda, if approved by the Diet, is going to be the very first governor of BoJ from the academic field.

He graduated Tokyo University in 1974 and acquired doctor degree of economics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1980. 

He taught at his university as a professor and was appointed as a council member of the BoJ from 1998 through 2005.  

Since then, he has been back to the academic field.  

During the days as a BoJ council member, he supported the bank’s quantitative easing policy and objected the bank’s decision of 2000 to lift its zero interest rate policy. 

Media reports that he has close tie with well-known economists including Mr. Ben Bernanke, former FRB Chairman and Mr. Mario Draghi, former ECB President.



5. MHI To Withdraw From Space Jet Project


Mr. Seiji Izumizawa, President of Mitsubishi Heavy Industry held a press conference on February 7 and announced to withdraw from the project to develop Mitsubishi Space Jet, regional aircraft with 70 to 100 passengers.

Though the program itself had encountered several major delays in designing and parts sourcing of the aircraft as well as in the flight tests for qualifications etc., the pandemic brought further delays as well as the sharp reductions of market potential, which led to this decision, the president explained.  

R&D cost, which had been estimated at 150 billion yen at the beginning of the project has soared up to a 1 trillion yen level by now.

MHI itself recognized a loss of 116.2 billion yen during its fiscal 2020.   

The engineers who have been engaged in this project will be reassigned to the next generation fighter project and aircraft electrification project, the company explained.