1. Emergency Response Actions Taken Against New Coronavirus




Yomiuri reported on February 13 that the Japanese government’s New Coronavirus Emergency Response H.Q. headed by PM Abe is planning to take the following actions to subdue the expansion of the infectious disease in Japan and to financially support SME of manufacturing industry and of tourism industry that are hit hard by the virus’ breakout due to the nose-dive of the number of Chinese visitors and factory shut-down in China for certain parts and components to be used by those SME.




l  Provide subsidy for SME, who are willing to make capital investment to increase the production volume of masks.


l  Support companies who import and sell masks that are made of cloth.


l  Provide loan facility as big as 500 billion yen for the purpose of responding SME’s working capital demand.




Masks are running out of stock now in Japan, and its replenishment is delayed because roughly 80% of the supply of masks in Japan come from China, and imports of Chinese masks have been sharply reduced. With the aforementioned governmental countermeasure, domestic production capacity of masks should be doubled to be 600 million per month in next month.


The Ministry of Welfare and Labor kept updating the number of infected people, who are on the soil of Japan, and as of February 13, the number is 33, out of whom one is dead.  


Besides, it was reported by the ministry that as of the 13th, there are 218 people found infected out of 3,116 onboard a luxury cruise ship by the name of “Diamond Princess”, which called at Yokohama on February 3 from Taiwan.




  1. Henoko Construction Design Change Expected




It was revealed recently that within the coastal area of Henoko that is designated to be landfilled to construct a new air base for the U.S. Marine Corps to move its Futenma Air Station, there is some coast area where the sea bottom is found fragile. 


In order to avoid any ground subsidence after the construction is completed, the central government is going to conduct additional construction to drive in around 70,000 stakes in the sea bottom.


This additional construction, coupled with the change of soil gathering places and of the shape of revetment etc. may make the Abe administration to make a package application of the changes to the Okinawa prefectural government as a tactic to efficiently conduct legal battle against the prefecture assuming that the local government would turn down the change application.


Originally, the Henoko construction was expected to take five full years, but this additional construction, even if the anticipated legal dispute is settled smoothly, would add another three and a half years for completion, Yomiuri reported.




  1. Disaster Prevention Measures For Foreigners To Be Strengthened




The Abe administration is going to strengthen the following disaster prevention measures for foreigners living in Japan, which had been planned but not fully implemented by municipal governments, Yomiuri reported on February 11:




l  Disaster prevention drills for foreigners 


l  Translation of hazard maps and other disaster prevention information


l  Providing training for Japanese staff who are expected to help foreigners when a disaster breaks out 


l  Establish and operate an organization called “Disaster Multi-lingual Support Center” to disseminate evacuation information for foreigners   




How much the central government is to share the cost of these countermeasures is yet to be seen, but the paper speculates that it would share a half of the entire cost to implement these measures.




  1. Service Balance Turned Surplus in 2019




According to the 2019 International Balance of Payments statistics that were announced by the Ministry of Finance on February 10, current balance surplus went up to 20,059.7 billion yen (US$182.4 billion) , which is a 4.4% increase from 2018.  


Trade surplus went down by 53.8% to 553.6 billion yen, while service balance turned from red (deficit) of 806.2 billion yen to black (surplus) of 175.8 billion yen. 


Thanks to the increase of inbound visitors, travel surplus went up by 9.1% to 2,635 billion yen.