Japan Digest #277

Japan-U.S. Trade Agreement Deliberated At The Diet


In the wake of the signing of the Japan-U.S. Trade Agreement last month at the Whitehouse, the Japanese Government presented the agreement to the Diet for approval during its regular session. 

Major benefits for the two nations out of this deal are reported as follows:


U.S. beef                       Japan to eventually lower its tariff from 38.5% to 9%

U.S. pork low grade      Japan to eventually decrease its tariff from 432 yen/kg to 50 yen/kg  

U.S. pork high grade     Japan to eventually decrease its tariff from 4.3% to zero

Japanese automobile   U.S. not to impose additional tariff

                                      U.S. agreed to continue negotiation to eventually cancel its tariff


Although the bill has been just approved by the House of Representatives, the opposition parties at the upper house are demanding to share the negotiation record to the public how the American side is committed to the future cancellation of its tariff over Japanese cars, and how the Japanese side made it sure that the commitment is kept. 

The Abe administration is trying to pass the bill to approve this agreement at the Diet within the Diet session, which will be closed in a month so that the agreement will come into force on the New Year Day.



U.S. Pressed Korea To Renew GSOMIA With Japan


U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense David R. Stilwell visited Korea and met with South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha on November 6 to request that South Korea reconsider its decision against renewing the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) military intelligence-sharing agreement with Japan.

The agreement will expire on November 23 unless South Korea withdraws the decision of cancelling the GSOMIA. 

Then, U.S. Defense Secretary Esper visited South Korea on November 15 and requested President  Moon Jae-in for the reconsideration to save the agreement with Japan.

President Moon, however, expressed his position that it should be difficult for his cabinet to change the decision as long as Japan continues tightening its export control against South Korea. 

In the meantime, the Abe Administration reportedly reviewed its stance on November 15 considering the recent diplomatic sessions with South Korean counterparts as well as the series of U.S. top officials’ meetings with South Korean leaders.

It, however, concluded that export control and the GSOMIA are two issues in different dimensions, and it cannot change the stance of export control for the GSOMIA issue.



First Feed In Tariff Term Ends This Month


Japanese Government’s Feed In Tariff (FIT) began in November 2009 allowing and subsidizing renewable energy to be sold by households to electric power companies at 48 yen per KWH.

Since then, millions of households had generated and sold solar or wind power based renewable energy to their local power companies. 

Since the effective duration of the FIT is 10 years, the program ends this year for the first group of applicants - around 530,000 households, and power companies are expected to purchase such renewable energy at 8.5 yen per KWH or so. 

Due to this large decrease of the price of selling renewable energy, some of individual families having renewable energy being generated at home may try to consume their generated power instead of selling it. 

Kyocera, Panasonic, Omron and other battery companies are releasing new home battery systems to respond such demand of keeping individually generated renewable power for their own use.



Yahoo And LINE To Merge  


Yomiuri reported on November 15 that Yahoo and LINE are seriously negotiating to consolidate mutual management. 

Yahoo has 50 million users, while LINE has 80 million. 

The two are aiming at an agreement within this month. 

Yahoo provides its users with the service of search, email account, online shopping, banking, credit card, entertainment  and so forth, while LINE  provides its users with SNS functions including free telephone service and smart phone payment services. 

The two companies have been seeking for partners to reinforce their own services and functions to compete against GAFA and China’s Alibaba group companies and Tencent, who have much larger scale and latest functions/services.