Japan Digest #355

1.        The Pace Of Declination Of The Number Of Birth Accelerated


According to the Japanese demographic statistics of 2022 that the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Labor, the number of newly born babies declined by 5.1% from the previous year to 799,728. 

It is the very first time for the number of birth to go below 800,000 ever since the government started collecting statistics in 1899.  

When National Institute of Population and Security Research updated Japan’s future demographic trend in 2017, it was anticipated to be in 2033 that the number of birth would fall below 800,000 for the first time. So, the pace of the declination is being accelerated to reach the point 11 years early.

Rapid reductions of the number of marriage during the pandemic period (2020 through 2022) in comparison with 2019 are suspected to have been causing the accelerated pace of the declination of the number of newly born babies.

Asked by the press, PM Kishida described this demographic situation “dire”, and emphasized that his administration would initiate new policies to proactively help and support young couples and families to have babies and raise children so that the declination trend of the number of birth should be reversed.   


2.   Japan To Launch New Sanctions Against Russia


The Kishida Administration decided on February 28 to launch the following additional sanctions against Russia in addition to the current ones, which ban exports of processing machines, high performance semiconductors, luxury cars and so forth: 


l  Freeze the asset in Japan that are owned by 48 Russian individuals including the Vice Minister of the Ministry of Defense, and 74 Russian organizations 

l  Ban exports of all the items that could possibly be used for drones

l  Designate Wagner as an organization to which exports are prohibited


3.  NTT And KDDI To Cooperate For 6G Development


Yomiuri reported on March 2 that Japan’s top two telecommunication giants NTT and KDDI would cooperate with each other to lead the global competition of 6G next generation standard of cell phones. Concretely, the two agreed to look into the possibility to jointly develop efficient communication infrastructure based on NTT’s IOWN optical telecommunication technology.

KDDI has strength in the area of long range telecommunication using sea bed telecommunication cables etc. 

The two companies will cooperate with each other to make the IOWN based foundational technology to be a global standard, and accelerate practical use of 6G communication.


4.  Rapidus To Produce High-end Semiconductors in Hokkaido


Rapidus Corporation, which was co-founded by Toyota, NTT, Mitsubishi UFJ, Kioxia, Sony, Softbank, NEC and Denso in August last year, announced on February 28 that it selected Chitose City of Hokkaido to build its first factory to produce 2 nano meter class next generation semiconductors. 

The company had already announced a partnership with a Belgium research institute “imec” and with IBM for this next generation semiconductor production project. 

At this moment, Japan relies almost 100% on foreign sources like TSMC for its demand of leading edge semiconductors.  \

Building up full production lines of sophisticated chips from scratch requires not only quite many experienced engineers but also huge capital. 

Another issue is how demand of such next generation semiconductors is consistently secured. 

AI and supercomputer are often cited as imminent applications, but to reduce production cost, the 8 large investors of Rapidus and other Japanese corporations need to invent new hit products that should consume such next generation semiconductors constantly and globally.