Japan Digest #380

1.        13th Anniversary Of The Eastern Japan Great Earthquake


At 2:46 pm on Monday the 11th of March, Japan mourned the 13th anniversary of the Eastern Japan Great Earthquake, which caused tsunami and the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant’s accident on March 11, 2011.

According to the National Police Agency and Reconstruction Agency, the number of deaths including missing persons is 22,222, while 29,328 people are still evacuated from their hometowns due to the radioactive contamination. 

Learning the bitter lessons that the earthquake and tsunami destroyed several city halls and town halls, and municipality’s services and functions were paralyzed, the Japanese government and the prefectural governments are encouraging and supporting local communities to form their own disaster prevention and relief plan to show how local residents are prepared and to help each other without municipality’s help for a first critical period if and when a disaster should come.

According to Yomiuri’s report on March 11, there have already been 2,300 local disaster relief plans in place and 4,000 more are being prepared.

On the New Year Day, Noto Peninsula suffered from the huge earthquake and tsunami, but some of the cities and towns like Wajima-shi did have individual disaster relief plans, based on which many residents were able to evacuate smoothly from the dangerous areas.

The media also reported how the Tohoku people are providing the sufferers of the Noto Peninsula with supports and encouragement based on what they really needed and appreciated most 13 years ago.


2.        Opposition Parties Haven’t Been Able To Gain Momentum To Take Over LDP


NHK’s monthly survey, which was conducted on March 8 through 10 for 2,563 people (out of which 1,206 people responded), the Kishida Cabinet’s approval rating remained unchanged at 25% from the previous month, while its disapproval rating went down by one point to 57%.  

Although the ruling LDP’s approval rating went down to 28.6%, below the warning zone (30%), the major opposition parties’ approval rating was still low (6.8% and 3.8% respectively), and not showing any sign of momentum sufficient to remove the ruling parties out of power yet. 

Other interesting findings are as follows:


With the Nikkei Average Stock Price renewing the highest records ever since the bubble economy days, do you feel the economy improving?

              Strongly yes       1%         To some extent yes          10%       Not much              39%       Not at all            44%


With more than two years passing since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, do you agree to continue supporting Ukraine even after completing Japan’s existing commitment of a 1.8 trillion-yen worth financial package?

Yes 58%              No 25%


Do you think the government should approve exports of the next generation fighter that is going to be co-developed with Italy and U.K. to the 3rd countries?

Yes 54%              No 32%


3.  Japan To Get Ready To Export F-3 Fighters


The Japanese Air Self Defense Force’s F-2 fighters are retiring in around 2035.

The Japanese government decided last year to develop its successor, which is assumed to be designated as F-3 instead of introducing a foreign-made high-performance fighter under manufacturing license.

Unlike F-2, which was co-developed with the United States, F-3 is going to be co-developed with Italy and U.K.

The media suspected the reason that the U.S. is currently developing a sixth-generation fighter and it is going to be an unmanned fighter, while Japan is still aiming at a 5th generation fighter with a pilot, for which British Aerospace and Italian industry have common interest of developing a new fighter and are willing to share their individual technologies with Japan.

This development project’s prime contractor is going to be Mitsubishi Heavy Industry.

Now a major topic is the Japanese government’s decision to allow exports of F-3.

This week PM Kishida, after consulting with the ruling parties (LDP and New Komei), decided to ask his cabinet within this month to officially endorse a revision draft of the operational guideline of the Three Principles of Defense Equipment Exports to specifically allow the exports of F-3. 

Before this revision, the operational guideline only allowed Japan’s exports of defense equipment such as transport, search and rescue and logistical equipment other than those defense equipment which could be directly used for combat operations with lethal capability.

Reportedly, Japan Restoration Party approves this revision of the operational guideline and Democratic Party for the People show some positive understanding at this moment, while all the other opposition parties oppose to it.


4.  Seiko Epson To Apply Its Thin Film Filter To CCS


Seiko Epson, one of the largest printer/scanner and projector producers in Japan announced this week that it would apply its thin film technology to Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS).

Currently, they use this technology for their printer products to filter the ink particles for printing operations. 

The company will apply this technology to filter CO2 only out of the gas to be exhausted from fire power plants that burn fossil fuel.

The company said that this film technology coupled with some chemical processing would not require pre-heating of the exhaust gas to separate and retrieve CO2 only, so it should bring a great energy saving to CCS.

The captured CO2 would be utilized as raw material of chemical products.


5.  KAIROS’s First Launching Failed


Japan’s first commercial attempt to launch and put satellites in an orbit failed and self-detonated on the 13th of March based on the rocket’s self-abort mechanism.

Japan’s commercial space venture Space One was founded in 2018 by IHI Aerospace, who developed with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency(JAXA) the Epsilon Rocket, Canon Electronics, Shimizu Corp. and Development Bank of Japan.

The venture is intended to provide “small satellite delivery services” as frequent as individual clients demand.  

It aims at 20 launches per year in late 2020’s, followed by 30 launches annually in 30’s.  

Space One successfully established a rocket launching pad in Kushimoto-cho of Wakayama Pref. at the south edge of Kii Peninsula.

The launching rocket is named as Kii-based Advanced & Instant ROcket System, namely KAIROS.  

Space One announced that it is investigating the cause that drove the self-abort mechanism. 

Japan’s first commercial rocket was successfully launched in 2019 by another venture called Interstellar Technologies based in Hokkaido. 

The small commercial rocket reached beyond 100 km altitude at that time but without any payload like a satellite.