Japan Digest #381

1.        PM Kishida’s Plan To Gain Back Political Capital Hasn’t Born Fruit Yet


Yomiuri’s monthly survey, which was conducted on March 22 through 24, the Kishida Cabinet’s approval rating slightly increased by one point to 25% from the previous month, while its disapproval rating also slightly went up by one point to 62%.  

The ruling LDP’s approval rating continuously went down to 23%, which is the lowest since the party returned to power in 2012. 

CDPJ, the largest opposition party’s approval rating went up by 3 points to 8%.   

Although Deliberative Council on Political Ethics were held at the both chambers of the Diet, where senior leaders of the former the Abe faction and the Nikai faction attended and attempted to explain about what they knew about the off-the-book fund practices, more than 80% of the respondents said the explanation was not sufficient for them to eliminate their distrust of the party leaders.  

The same survey asked about the most desirable party president after the LDP’s presidential election in September.

The following are the top five whom the respondents chose:


Rep. Shigeru Ishiba (ex-Defense and Agriculture/Forestry/Fishery Minister)            22%

Rep. Shinjiro Koizumi (ex-Environmental Minister)                                           15%   ]

Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa                                                                     9%

Rep. Taro Kono (ex-Foreign, Defense and Digital Minister)                                 8%

PM Fumio Kishida                                                                                            7%   


Strong head wind is blowing against PM Kishida due to a series of scandals of the party members, but with the economy gaining steam, record high salary increases and soaring stock/real estate prices, he seems to be hoping to gain back his political capital after he announces his ruling as the party president to severely punish the senior former faction leaders who were involved in the off-the-book fund scandal.

Also, he will make most use of his visit to the United States as State Guest in April.


2   U.S. To Strengthen The Commanding Functions Of USFJ


Yomiuri reported on the front page of March 25 that multiple officials of both the Japanese government and the U.S. government sources revealed that the U.S. has begun to take necessary actions to strengthen the commanding functions of the U.S. Forces in Japan under the U.S. Indo Pacific Command in Hawaii so that the collaboration between the U.S. military and the Japanese Self Defense Force should be further promoted.

This move of the U.S. is to respond Japan’s initiative to establish “Joint Operational Command” in the end of this year, which is to integrate the three services’ operations, and the U.S. government is aiming at enhancing the interoperability between the two forces by strengthening the commanding functions of USFJ.     

Joint communique that is scheduled to be released on April 10 when PM Kishida visits President Biden at the Whitehouse as state guest will articulate the review of the frame of the command and control of defense collaboration between Japan and the United States.

Currently, the responsibility of USFJ’s Command at Yokota is limited to supervising the Japan-U.S. joint exercises and to the operations of U.S. - Japan Status of Forces Agreement, while the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command has the authority to directly command the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet at Yokosuka and the Marine Corps in Okinawa.  

In order for Japan and the U.S. to respond the rising geopolitical tension in the East Asia and enhancing speed and performance of the latest weapon systems in more timely manners, it is considered necessary to delegate to USFJ’s Command more authority to coordinate with “Joint Operational Command” of JSDF, Yomiuri reported.


3.  Japanese Government To Renew Its Strategy To Nurture Aircraft Industry


A little more than a year has passed since the MHI’s decision to exit its Mitsubishi Space Jet (MSJ) development in February last year and the government of Japan is now planning to renew its strategy to nurture the domestic aircraft industry. 

The current strategy was renewed in 2014.

The new strategy, reportedly will aim at mass producing single-aisle passenger aircraft of high demand by 2035. 

Also, it includes development of zero-emission aircraft.

The government shall play the role of providing support to strengthen domestic aircraft production base as part of its strategy to strengthen the industrial base for the national security. 

METI is going to form a well-informed people’s meeting to finalize the renewal of the strategy.  

Leveraging Japan’s strength of composite technology, precision machining and hydrogen production, and making most use of MSJ’s existing resources and lessons, the government is hoping to draw a rosy vision of domestic commercial aircraft industry, which is yet to be seen.


4.  Japan’s Official Land Prices Returning To The Bubble Economy Days’ Level


According to the official land prices that were announced by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation on March 26, the national average price of land for all the uses went up by 2.3% from the previous year. 

This is the third consecutive year of the increase of the national average price of land for all the uses, and the magnitude of the increases reaches the level of those in the bubble economy days. 

For the three major metropolitan areas (Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya), official land price for commercial use went up by 5.2%, followed by 2.8% for residential use. 


Surprisingly,  four major local cities, i.e. Sapporo, Sendai, Hiroshima and Fukuoka’s official land price increased by 7.0% for residential use and 9.2% for commercial use.