Japan Digest #382

1.        PM Kishida’s Approval Rating Continuing To Tumble


According to NHK’s monthly survey, which was conducted on April 5 through 7, the Kishida Cabinet’s approval rating declined by two points to 23% from the previous month, while its disapproval rating went up by one point to 58%.  

The ruling LDP’s approval rating continuously went down to 28.4% from 28.6% of the previous month.

CDPJ, the largest opposition party’s approval rating also went down to 6.5% from 6.8%.     

Although the LDP announced to punish 39 Diet members of the party who were related to the off-the-book fund issues including recommendation to leave the party, 34% replied that the punishments were not enough, while 61% said it was not appropriate that PM Kishida himself didn’t take any punishment as party leader.  

How Kishida’s visit to the U.S. this week will help his approval ratings recover is yet to be seen.


2   PM Kishida’s Visit To U.S.


PM Kishida is visiting the United States this week as state guest.  

His itinerary includes business topics as seen below: 


April 9 AM: Meet with Mr. Brad Smith, CEO of Microsoft         

PM: Attend the tree planting ceremony to commemorate the centennial anniversary of late Sen. Daniel Inouye’s birthday 


April10  AM: State guest welcome ceremony and the first summit meeting (Biden-Kishida)

            PM: U.S.-Japan joint press conference 

            Reception where the Whitehouse invited YOASOBI, now world-famous Japanese duo players


April 11 AM: Meet with House Speaker Mike Johnson

                   Deliver speech at the Joint Session of the U.S. Congress

            PM: Welcome lunch hosted by Vice President Harris and Secretary Blinken

                   Attend Japan-U.S.-Philippine Summit meeting


April 12 AM: Visit a factory of Toyota U.S.A.

                    Visit Honda Aircraft’s factory in North Caroline

            PM: Welcome lunch hosted by the governor of North Carolina   


The Japan-U.S. relationship is going to be strengthened in the following fields as the result of Kishida’s visit this time:

  1. Defense and Security:

*Command and control  framework between the two forces will be enhanced for both peace time and contingency through BIAC, ISR and so forth.

*AUKUS nations will look into cooperation with Japan for advanced performance projects.

*Japan’s MoD and U.S. DoD will organize a periodic meeting for mutual defense industries’ cooperation.

  1. Space

*The two nations agreed to negotiate a legal framework to allow U.S. commercial rockets to be launched in Japan.

*The two nations completed three new ground stations in Alaska, California and Guam to operate Japan’s quasi-zenith satellites.

*Japan to launch two quasi-zenith satellites and place in the orbit U.S. DoD’s two surveillance equipment as payload.

(3) AI

*The two nations agreed to cooperate with each other to reduce risk and damage that could be caused by contents to be generated by AI by providing transparency through authorizing/labeling official

contents and proactively censor disinformation.

  1. Diplomacy

*A new dialogue shall be established between Japan’s MoFA and U.S. State Department to coordinate global diplomacy and development.


3.  Japan-U.S. Academic Cooperation For AI Research


Japan’s Tsukuba University and Keio University agreed to cooperate with Washington University and Carnegie Melon University respectively in the field of AI research and development of AI and of AI education. On April 9, Minister Moriyama of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and Secretary Laymond of the Commerce Department attended the ceremony for the cooperation agreement. The media reported that U.S. tech companies like Microsoft and Nvidia will provide research fund to support the academic research activities.  


4.  Japanese Version Of ESTA To Be Implemented By 2030


Yomiuri reported on April 10 that the Japanese government solidified the policy to introduce a pre-boarding declaration system like the U.S. ESTA for visa exempted short-stay foreign visitors by 2030. 

As of this month, visitors from 71 nations and regions are exempted from acquiring visa for a short stay in Japan.

The government is aiming at increasing the number of foreign visitors toward 60 million by 2030 from the current 35 million level. 

In order to achieve this goal without risking the security system against illegal immigration and terrorism, the government judged to follow the U.S. ESTA system to check the background of visitors before departure.  

According to the Japanese Immigration Bureau, there are 79,113 foreigners illegally staying in Japan as of this January and 62.9% of them entered Japan as short-stay visitors. 

The number increased by 20,000 from ten years ago.  


5. Microsoft To Invest $2.9 Billion In Japan


Taking the opportunity of PM Kishida’s visit to the U.S. and his meeting with its CEO on April 9, Microsoft announced that it would invest in Japan $2.9 billion to boost up its data centers to explore generative AI. Also, the company will newly establish a research center in Tokyo to research AI to explore solutions of social issues like productivity improvement and aging society. 

The company also announced a plan to train around 3 million Japanese people including students to master AI development and utilization. 


6. The Population Of Japan Continues To Decline  


The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications announced on April 12 that the population of Japan as of October 1 last year was 124,352,000, which was 595,000 people (0.48%) less than a year ago.

It was the 13th consecutive annual decrease in row. 

Although the number of foreign residents increased by 298,000, Japanese people decreased by 837,000.

The number of 65 years old and above was 36,227,000, which was 9,000 less than 2022, while its share of the total population increased by 0.1 point to 29.1%, which is the highest ever.