Japan Digest #373

1.       Kishida’s Approval Rate Down To 24%


Yomiuri’s monthly survey, which was conducted from November 17 through 19 revealed that the approval rating of the Kishida Cabinet went down by 10 points to 24% from the previous month. 

It is the lowest ever since PM Kishida formed his cabinet in October 2021.

Its disapproval rating went up by 13 points to 62%.

In just two months after the reshuffle of the cabinet, two new vice political ministers and one new parliamentary secretary resigned due to individual scandals, which might have contributed to the public lack of confidence in the cabinet.   

Kishida has been working on a new economic stimulus package including a temporary tax break, but only 29% approve it, while 61% disapprove it saying it’s a mere election tactics. 

To the question of how long PM Kishida should stay in the office, 52% said up until September next year when his term as LDP’s president expires, while 33% said he should step down ASAP and 11% said the longer the better.  


2.   APEC Summit Diplomacy


PM Kishida was able to have a bilateral talk on November 16 with U.S. President Joe Biden, Chinese President Xi Jing Ping and Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol individually during this year’s APEC Summit held in San Francisco. 

With President Biden, Kishida agreed to strengthen collaboration considering the geopolitical issues of the Middle East and Ukraine as well as the challenges that China, Russia and North Korea present in the Indo-Pacific region. 

President Biden extended a formal invitation of visit to PM Kishida during the meeting and Kishida accepted the invitation. 

He now plans to make the official visit to the U.S. in next spring.

Then, Kishida and President Xi of China reconfirmed to propel “Strategic & Mutually-Beneficial Relationship”.

Xi further expressed his idea to evolve the Strategic & Mutually-Beneficial Relationship to the one that meets the demand of new era.   

As for the bilateral talk between Kishida and Yoon, they  not only enjoyed the 7th bilateral talk but also extended it to a field trip to Stanford University where the two participated in a symposium about leading edge technology. 

There, Kishida expressed his plan to jointly build up supply chain of hydrogen and ammonium with Korea, while exploring collaboration with Korea for quantum technology.

Japan’s Foreign Minister Kamikawa had a trilateral meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Blinken and Korean Foreign Minister Pak on November 15. 

The three top diplomats agreed to strengthen the collaboration to deal with North Korea’s nuclear and missile development as well as other regional and global issues and concerns.


3.  Japan-U.S. To Strengthen Critical Material’s Supply Chain


The Japan-U.S. Economic 2+2 meeting was held on November 14 in San Francisco. 

Japan’s Foreign Minister Kamikawa and METI Minister Nishimura discussed with their individual counterparts State Secretary Blinken and Commerce Secretary Raymond. 

It is the 2nd Economic 2+2 meeting. 

The four announced a joint statement after the meeting that the two countries would cooperate with each other to create a transparent, robust and sustainable supply chain strategy. 

It also stated the collaboration to counter economic coercion and policies as well as practices that are not driven by market force and to act in concert to set AI operational policies.

A Japan-U.S. supply chain working group is expected to discuss how the two governments could collaborate in providing financial support for the mutual supply chain of critical material like semiconductors and batteries of EV, etc.


4.  Japan And U.S. Build Up Deterrence Against China’s First Island Chain


Yomiuri  reported on November 15 that U.S. Marine Corps reorganized its 12th Marine Regiment that is stationed in Okinawa into the 12th Marine Littoral Regiment (MLR) shifting its assumed major operations from ground battle to islands defense. 

MLR is expected to cooperate with the 15th Division of the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force at Naha, Okinawa, which is tasked to defense Japan’s South West Islands. 

In the meantime, the U.S. State Department announced on November 17 that it approved the sale of Tomahawk missile to Japan as many as 400 rounds in order to help Japan build up counter attack capability. 

It costs Japan around $2.35 billion. 

The Missile’s first deployment is expected to begin in 2025.


5.  More Visitors Came To Japan In October Than Before Pandemic


Japan Travel Bureau announced on November 15 that 2,516,500 people visited Japan in October, which is a 0.8% more than the number of foreign visitors in October 2019. 

It is the first time to show an increase of the number of foreign visitors after the pandemic on a month-to-month comparison basis.   

Top 3 visitors are Korean (631,100), Taiwanese (424,800) and Chinese (256,300).  

The aggregated number of foreign visitors of the first 10 months of this year is 19,890,000, which is more than 10 folds in comparison with the same period last year.