Japan Digest #383

1.        PM Kishida’s Low Approval Rating Remained Unchanged Despite His State Visit To The U.S.


According to Yomiuri’s monthly survey, which was conducted on April 19 through 24, the Kishida Cabinet’s approval rating remained unchanged from the previous month at 25%, while its disapproval rating went up by four points to 66%.  

The ruling LDP’s approval rating slightly went up by 1 point to 24%, while CDPJ, the largest opposition party’s approval rating went down to 5% from 8%.     

Although 55% of the respondents positively recognized PM Kishida’s state visit to the United States this month, 78% are not satisfied with the way PM Kishida and his party are settling the off-the-book fund issues, namely the quality of LDP’s internal investigation of the issues as well as the punishment of the Diet members of the party who were involved in the cases.

Now, Kishida and his party are working on a revision of Political Fund Control Law to enlarge and clarify the responsibility of Diet members with regard to booking all the income and expense related to  their political activity.


2   LDP VP Aso Met Former President Trump


The ruling LDP’s Vice President and former Prime Minister Aso visited New York this week and met with former President Donald Trump in the evening of the 23rd at the Trump Tower.  

Late former PM Shinzo Abe had the close personal friendship with President Trump during the time the two were the leaders of the individual nations and Aso had been Abe’s closest political ally at the LDP.

So, Aso made most use of the Abe-Trump relationship to build personal relationship with Trump in place of his party in the same month PM Kishida visited the U.S. as a state guest and reconfirmed with President Biden to strengthen the Japan-U.S. relationship in preparation for the U.S. Presidential election in this November, the media reported.


3.  Japan To Try To Lead AI Rule Making Process At OECD


Last year, PM Kishida as chair of the G7 Hiroshima Summit was able to successfully conclude a very first agreement of an international rule making process called Hiroshima AI Process.

It is intended to build an international framework to effectively control and safely use Generative AI. 

PM Kishida is attending OECD’s annual conference to be held at its H.Q. in Paris next month and deliver a speech to invite the member nations to join the Hiroshima AI Process in order to expand the base of its friends’ group in the world. 

Japan has been investing in Originator Profile technology that allows a third-party organization to authenticate articles and advertisement messages on the internet by electronically attaching originator profile information to them so that users will be able to check the reliability and authenticity of such articles and advertisement. 

The Japanese government would like to promote this OP technology as a key component to implement the international rules to come with regard to Generative AI, the media reported.


4.  Japanese Government To Tighten Export Controls Of General Purpose Items In Wake Of Russian Invasion Of Ukraine


Yomiuri reported on April 24 that one of METI’s advisory bodies recommended to tighten the exports controls of general-purpose items such as sensors and motors, which could be repurposed for military use.

The government presently has two basic export control frames.

One is called “List based controls” and it is intended to restrict exports of items that could be used for weapons of mass destruction.

The other is “Catch all controls”. 

It is intended to restrict exports of general-purpose items based on METI’s own intelligence. 

The recommendation this time is to require every exporter to look into the possibility that the export items in question could be repurposed for military use, and if it finds that it is possible, the exporter is required to apply for an export license to METI.    

This move has something to do with the fact that Russia is repurposing general-purpose items like drones and satellite communication devices for military purpose.


5. Japan To Try To Close The Gender Gap Of Salary


According to Japan Institute for Labor Policy and Training, the salary gap ratio between Japanese men and women was 22.1% as opposed to 16th percentile in the U.S. and Canada and 14th percentile in the U.K.  


The Japanese government formed a project team recently and held the first team meeting this week to discuss a concrete plan to be announced in June to close this gender gap.