l The number of people in Tokyo who are infected by the new coronavirus surged since last week, and the number of available beds to be able to accept infected patients is getting scarce. Both the central government and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government are securing business hotels and public lodging places to receive mildly symptomatic patients from the present hospitals so that patients in serious conditions can be given sufficient treatment at hospitals.
l Under these circumstances, PM Abe declared State of Emergency on April 7.
It covers the prefectures of Tokyo, Osaka, Kanagawa, Chiba, Saitama, Hyogo and Fukuoka.
The declaration grants authority to the governors of the seven prefectures to restrict private rights of their residents in order to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.
The goal of the declaration is to drastically change people’s behavior patterns to reduce person-to-person contacts by 80% from regular days so that the spread is contained in two weeks.
However, it does not provide the governors with legal force to prohibit the residents from leaving home, so experts are skeptical if such dramatic reduction of contacts could be achieved.
Shibuya Scramble Crossing, Shimbashi Station Square, Shinjuku Kabukicho, Harajuku Takeshita Street and Ginza are normally known as busiest areas in Tokyo, but TV news are now showing them as if they were locked down.
l 108 trillion yen ($1 trillion) economic package was announced by the government on April 7.
It consists of two phases, “Emergency Support Phase” and “V-shaped Recovery Phase”.
The first phase will provide cash in May in the amount of 300,000 yen ($2,800) directly to all the households, income of which significantly declined due to the COVID-19 (The “significance” to be defined by the government later).
Also, 10,000 yen per child will be paid to the households who are receiving the government’s child allowance.
All the SME, revenue of which go down to the half or below of the previous financial year’s will be able to receive 2 million yen ($18,500) per company at maximum to cover individual losses.
Likewise, individual business owners will be able to receive 1 million yen per owner at maximum.
Besides, SME will be given accesses to bank loans without interest for a certain period to cover working capital.
Also, they can delay disbursement of tax and of payroll taxes by one year without penalty.
For the second phase, the government will launch a series of campaigns to stimulate the demand of consumptions of tourism, transportation, entertainment/events, dining outside and so forth once the virus is contained and normal life is restored.
As part of the economic package, the Japanese government is committed to secure an antiviral drug Avigan or ‘’’Favipira at least for 2 million people.
This drug is developed by Toyoma Chemical, and its therapeutic effect against the new coronavirus was first recognized in China.
The Japanese government is now proceeding its official process of clinical trial for this medicine.
On April 7, Foreign Minister Mogi announced at a press conference that the government of Japan would donate one million dollar worth of AVIGAN to first twenty nations who requested for it including Indonesia, Ukraine and Iran through the United Nations.
There are next 30 nations on the line to coordinate the procedures to receive the drug.
According to Yomiuri, Ministry of Defense formed an experts team on April 1 to study and define a program to develop a new fighter to replace the F-2 Fighter that the Japanese Air Self Defense Force currently operates.
The team is headed by a Major General of JASDF and staffed by around 30 experts of engine, airframe, mission systems etc.
The team assumes a foreign partner in the development, and Yomiuri reports that the government side is inclined to the U.S. as partner nation considering the Japan-U.S. Security Pact, while the industry side prefers the U.K. because of its willingness of sharing information and technology.
The F-2 was co-developed in 1990’s by Mitsubishi Heavy Industry and then General Dynamics (now Lockheed Martin) based on GD’s F-16 design.
The loss of Ms. Irene Hirao Inouye, Founding President of the U.S.-Japan Council shocked and saddened many Japanese, who had known her through her tireless effort and devotion to building up Japan-U.S. friendship and future young leaders of the relationship.
Yomiuri reported her demise in three separate articles on April 9 and 10 to recognize her contribution to the Japan-U.S. friendship as well as properly collecting the public attention to the Japanese American history and the community.
We at former Japanese Commerce Association of Washington, DC had been always encouraged by her friendly smile and thoughtfulness.
It is a huge loss, but we are hoping that the momentum that she created will continue for the years to come.
We wish to ask her family to accept our sincere condolence.