1. Japan’s Population Declined By Around 800,000
Ministry of General Affairs and Telecommunications announced this week that Japan’s population as of January 1st of this year was 122,423,038, which is 800,523 smaller than the previous year.
This is the 14th year of declination in row since 2009 when its population peaked.
Also, it is the very first time ever since 1973 when the prefectural survey started that all the 47 prefectures recorded a declination of individual prefectural population.
In the meantime, the number of foreign residents was 2,993,839, which is an increase of 289,498 people.
All the 47 prefectures see their individual number of foreign residents grew.
2. PM Kishida’s Approval Rating Continues To Decline
According to Yomiuri’s monthly survey that was conducted on July 23 through 25, Kishida Cabinet’s approval rating went down from June by 6 points to 35%.
It is the lowest figure ever since Kishida formed his cabinet.
Its disapproval rating went up by 8 points to 52%, which tied with his highest disapproval rating recorded in December last year.
It is speculated that his administration’s poor handling of My Number Card issues is the cause of this sharp declinations of popularity.
Other key findings are as follows:
Do you approve the Kishida Administration’s 3 trillion yen worth countermeasure against declining number of children?
Yes 24% No 66%
Do you agree or disagree to the government policy to release to the sea the treated water that include radioactive material like tritium coming from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant after diluting them to clear the safety standard? Agree 57% Disagree 30%
Which party would you cast your vote at the next Lower House election’s proportional representation section?
LDP 34% (38% in June) Japan Restoration 15% (13%) CDPJ 8% (9%)
3. Japan As Chair To Lead G7 To Set Common Goals Of Critical Minerals’ Supply Chains
Confronting China’s economic coercion by politically limiting its exports to unfriendly nations, G7 nations are in agreement to diversify the sources of critical minerals and to reduce dependence of their supplies on China.
The Japanese government designates 35 minerals including nickel, cobalt and lithium as critical mineral resources.
As to lithium, Japan depended a 81% of its demand on imports from China in 2021.
Yomiuri reported this week that Japan as this year’s chair of G7 is leading the group members to set common goals of reducing the dependence on Chinese supplies of critical minerals by jointly exploring new supply chains.
It may involve G7 nations’ joint investment to nations where those critical minerals are available.
At G7 Summit’s request, International Energy Agency is now selecting the minerals that should be defined “critical” in terms of economic security, and it will make a concrete proposal within this year, Yomiuri reported.
4. Japan To Allow Exports Of Lethal Weapons
As reported in Japan Digest #364, a working team formed by the ruling LDP and New Komei parties’ Diet members is working on a new guideline to explicitly allow exports of defense articles with lethal weapons.
This week, the media reported that PM Kishida requested the working team members to accelerate their work to conclude the guideline.
It is speculated that Kishida would like to introduce this new policy of weapon exports to allied and likeminded nations when he visits the United States in August to attend the U.S.-Japan-Korea trilateral security meeting at the Whitehouse.
The guideline is expected to facilitate Japan to expand the scope of assistance to Ukraine.
It will also allow exports of internationally co-developed defense equipment to a third country, which is not allowed at this moment.