Japan Digest #368

1.        Kishida To Reshuffle His Cabinet Next Week


Confronting the continuous declination of his approval ratings, PM Kishida is reportedly considering to reshuffle his cabinet and some top leader positions of his Liberal Democratic Party.  

In the past few weeks, he had lunch or dinner with some of the key Cabinet members including Minister Kono and Minister Takaichi as well as core LDP members including the party VP Aso, the party Secretary General Motegi and Rep. Ishiba to discuss the Cabinet reshuffle and new party executive teams.

According to Yomiuri, Kishida decided to keep Aso and Motegi’s party executive role intact, while he will substantially reshuffle the 19 Cabinet members and announce the new members as soon as he returns from India after attending the G20 Summit.


2.   Supreme Court Ruled Against Okinawa Prefectural Government’s Appeal About The Construction Of The Henoko Coastal Area


It’s been a while since the Japanese government and the U.S. government agreed to move the Futenma Marine Air Station to the Henoko coast area near the Camp Shwab where V-shaped runways will be newly built over the sea.   

The Futenma station is surrounded by heavily populated area, so the agreement was to avoid any accidental risks.

Landfilling application by the Ministry of Defense for the southern area of the Henoko coast area was approved by then Okinawan Governor Nakaima and the construction started in 2018.

In the meantime, some poor ground was found in the northern area of the coast, which required MoD to apply for some construction design change to the Okinawan government. 

The governor has been changed to Mr. Denny Tamaki, who campaigned for and represented the voters who are against the construction of the Henoko coast line for the military purpose. 

In 2021, Tamaki disapproved the application of the construction design change, which was made in 2020. 

MoD protested against it and demanded the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport to review the case from the national interest point of view. 

In 2022, then minister of MoLIT concluded to cancel the disapproval by Gov. Tamaki and instructed the prefectural government to approve the construction design change.  

Gov. Tamaki protested against the central government’s decision and brought the case up to the court.  

And this time, the Supreme Court concluded the battle between the central government and Okinawa.

From now on, if Governor Tamaki does not follow the instruction of the MoLIT, the ministry will be able to exercise its authority to approve the design change in place of the prefectural government. 

It is yet to be seen what sort of next steps Gov. Tamaki would choose.


3.   Japan To Boost Up Commercial Space Business


Yomiuri reported on September 4 that the government of Japan would allocate 10 billion yen to Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)’s fiscal 2024 budget as a fund to subsidize the expenditure of universities and private industries to develop leading edge technology of satellite, rocket and lunar exploration, etc.  

In order to articulate a priority of such subsidy spendings, the Japanese government will come up with “Space Technology Strategy” within this fiscal year. 

Furthermore, the government is planning to present to the coming extraordinary Diet session in this fall a bill to amend the present JAXA law so that the agency is allowed to establish a fund to provide the private sector with financial support in a large scale for a long term. 

The ruling LDP had already presented a proposal that such a fund should be as large as one trillion yen to cover a decade of R&D challenges for commercial space business.


4.  Japan Demands China To Lift The Ban On Imports Of Japanese Marine Products


In response to Japan’s starting to release the treated water out of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant last month, China immediately announced and implemented import embargo of Japanese marine products.   

IAEA’s comprehensive report clarifies from scientific perspective that negative influence against human body or environments to be caused by the release of the treated water in the ocean should be negligible.

The Japanese government has been sharing the report and sampling test data from the sea water as well as fish meat to keep the transparency and accountability as much as possible.  

PM Kishida is visiting Indonesia this week to attend the ASEAN Summit, the ASEAN-Japan-China-Korea Summit and the East Asia Security Summit.  

Then, he is flying to India to attend the G20 Summit.  

Every time and place he visits; Kishida explains about the treated water and assures the safety of Japanese marine products pointing out the fact that China is the only nation that neglects the scientific assessment of the treated water.

For those summits, Chinese PM Li attends instead of President Xi Jing Ping and condemns Japan for the release of the treated water using the expression of “nuclear contaminated water” instead of treated water.

It seems that Kishida is gaining reasonable level of understanding from the ASEAN nations, Yomiuri reported.  


5. Japan’s Lunar Explorer “SLIM” To Land On The Moon Early Next Year 


The 47th H2A Rocket was successfully launched from the Tanegashima Space Center yesterday with the payload of SLIM, a lunar explorer and XRISM, a X-ray based astronomical satellite.

JAXA developed SLIM, which is expected to be able to land on a targeted point of the moon surface with a margin of error less than 100 m. 

JAXA is planning to make SLIM attempt for the first landing in a January-February timeframe.