1. COVID-19 Update In Japan




  • Despite the fact that the number of people on the streets of the major cities like Tokyo and Osaka is declining by 70% or more after the declaration of the state of emergency, the number of people in Tokyo who are infected by the new coronavirus is plateaued at a 130 to 140 people a day level this week, and it is at a 400 people per day level nationwide.


  •  Infection is spreading to suburban areas because some people are leaving major cities to avoid infection in town, or visiting sight-seeing spots for fun.
  •   Under these circumstances, PM Abe and most of the governors of the 47 prefectures requested people not to move beyond prefectural borders or not to visit sightseeing spots, and to stay home.


  • Our Golden Weeks will begin on April 29 and last through May 10. Normally, great migration occurs in Golden Weeks with some people returning to parents’ home and others visiting sightseeing spots or amusement parks abroad or domestic.  This year, both the central government and local governments are requesting their people not to cause migration to contain the virus by the end of the weeks.


  • An Italian cruise ship “Costa Atlantica” without passengers harbored at the Nagasaki port recently.  The ship having 127 crews onboard reported to the Nagasaki Prefecture that some of the crews are infected by COVID-19. As of April 23, 48 crew members were found infected.


Despite the request of the Nagasaki Prefectural government to stay onboard, most of the crews disembarked to move to the Nagasaki airport or JR Nagasaki station, so, people in the Nagasaki area are now much concerned about the virus spreading in town.

  • As reported last time, the Japanese government had decided to 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).  


This week, PM Abe made another public announcement to change this arrangement to be a 100,000 yen payment to all registered residents in Japan without exception. 


Reportedly, the New Komei Party strongly worked on PM Abe for this change for an easier and quicker way of receiving the payment by the people in real need.


Foreign residents who possess a stay permit for more than 3 months and have registered their residential address to the local government are entitled to this payment as well.


  •  On April 23, the government of Japan announced its monthly economy report, which revised the previous prospect downward, and summarized the state of the domestic economy as “being rapidly deteriorated and in an extremely difficult conditions”.   


It’s been almost 12 years since the government used this dire expression of economy last time when the Lehman Shock happened.


  • In order to avoid the risk of infection in a waiting room of a clinic or a hospital, the Ministry of Welfare and Labor temporarily allowed medical institutions in Japan to provide their medical consultation services online since April 13.  The governmental universal health insurance is applied to those online services including initial diagnosis.




  1. AVIGAN Wanted By Doctors




Yomiuri reported on April 24 that the Japan Association of Medical Practitioners has been lobbying to the politicians to apply the special approval process to AVIGAN so that clinical use of the medicine can be expedited. 


The Medical Products and Equipment Act has a provision of the special approval process for an emergency case such as the spread of a disease that has great potential to jeopardize the lives and health of Japanese nationals.  This medicine was originally developed and approved to prevent the proliferation of the flu virus.


Its effectiveness against COVID-19 is recognized if it is provided to infected patients in an early stage.


Its risk of side effect to a young couple who wish to have a baby is also recognized during the approval process.  




  1. Japan-U.S. Government and Industry Meeting For F-2 Replacement Project




As reported last time, Japan’s 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 assumes a foreign partner in the development, and Yomiuri had reported 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.


Then, Yomiuri reported on April 21 that the Japanese government and the United States’ government will hold a meeting soon to discuss on a possible framework of a co-development program between the two countries including technology releasability. 


For this meeting, defense industries of the two nations are invited, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industry, Mitsubishi Electric Company, IHI and seven or more from Japan will attend, while Lockheed Martin, Boeing and one other will participate from the U.S., Yomiuri reported.  


Whether there will be a similar meeting with the U.K. government and industry or not, was not stated in the article.




  1. MoD Applied Henoko Construction Design Change To Okinawa Pref.




As reported by Japan Digest #283, it was revealed 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. made the Abe administration through the Ministry of Defense to make a package application of the changes to the Okinawa prefectural government on April 21.


This action is recognized as a tactic to efficiently conduct legal battle against the prefecture assuming that the local government would turn down the change application.


In response to this application, Okinawan Governor Mr. Denny Tamaki stated in a press conference, “This application represents the central government’s insensitivity to the (COVID-19) situations in Okinawa, and our approval can never be granted”. 


Although this response is anticipated, and the next step of the MoD will be to file a law suit against the prefecture, such an action might be a political disaster if taken before the prefectural representatives election scheduled in June considering the local people’s efforts and sacrifice to contain COVID-19.


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 be extended by far more years, Yomiuri suggested.




Please continue to take good care of you and have a safe weekend!