l The economies of the 47 prefectures have been mostly reopened, and people have been free to move beyond prefectural borders since June 19. Bars, karaoke places, night clubs and live houses are now back to normal although specific rules of social distancing and sanitization apply to live houses and night entertainment places etc. Since then, the number of people who were found PCR test positive has been increasing mostly in the Tokyo Metropolitan area. A great majority of them are hosts, hostesses and customers of the night clubs in the area, and mostly in their 20’s and 30’s.
l The Bank of Japan announced on July 1 that the business sentiment diffusion index of June went down sharply from March to -34 for manufacturers and -17 for non-manufacturers. The manufacturer’s figure was the 2nd lowest ever since June of 2009 when the DI was -48. Among others, the auto industry’s DI went down by 55 points to -72. As for non-manufacturers, lodging and restaurant industries’ DI declined by 32 points to -91, while personal service industry’s DI went down by 64 points to -70. Retail industry is the only one which jumped up above the surface, namely +2.
l METI announced on June 30 that Industrial Production Index for the month of May went down to 79.1, a 8.4 point decrease from April and the 4th consecutive declination since February this year. This is the 2nd lowest level after March of 2009 when the index was 79.0. Among others, auto industry’s output declined most by 23.2%, followed by steel and nonferrous material industry by 13.8%.
l Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications announced on June 30 that the unemployment rate for the month of May increased by 0.3 points to 2.9% from April.
Citing the finding that it is impossible to assure that the boosters of missiles to be launched from the two Aegis Ashore sites will fall and land within the limited area of the individual launching bases, and will not cause any damage in the local area just outside of the bases, Defense Minister Kono recently announced to stop the procurement process of the ground based BMD system.
He then visited the governor of Yamaguchi Pref. and Akita Pref. where the ministry had originally planned to build the launching site respectively, explained the chronology of his decision, and apologized for the stress and confusion caused over the local people in the past several months.
The National Security Council was held on June 24, and accepted the minister’s decision, while prompting the discussion to seek for appropriate alternatives to avoid any void of Japan’s future BMD network.
One alternative out of the discussion that is being loudly reported by the press is to acquire preemptive attack capability against hostile missile sites.
Defense Minister Kono clarified that the ministry would not cancel the existing contract of the Aegis Ashore with the United States but would stop it to proceed further.
The current contract is priced at 178.7 billion yen ($1.7 billion) covering the air defense radars and the launchers.
MoD will need to convert those expensive assets for alternative uses.
The Abe cabinet approved on June 20 a new Space Basic Plan that covers space policies for the 10 years to come.
Yomiuri reported that the new plan has the following features:
l The plan intends to double the revenue scale of the Japanese commercial space industries, which is currently estimated at 1.2 trillion yen ($11.2 billion).
l Lunar resource exploration (exploring water contents in the south pole and north pole of the moon)
l R&D of missile launching detection satellites
Besides, the plan articulated that it promotes Japanese astronauts to participate in the U.S. lunar resource exploration project “Artemis” of 2024.
The Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry announced on June 29 its post 5G support plan.
The plan is intended to nurture indigenous technology to be essential technology to uphold high speed and large capacity communication systems as key post 5G infrastructure.
The plan will allocate 67 billion yen ($626 million) out of the NEDO’s fund to invest in 12 new projects for new telecommunication base stations and optical fiber networks.
The Japanese government is stressing the importance of having an indigenous post 5G industrial base not only from economic perspectives but also from the national security point of view.
The Japanese government internally reached a consensus to retire around 100 coal fire power plants by 2030, Yomiuri reported on July 2.
There are 140 active coal power plants in Japan, 114 of which are so-called inefficient plants in terms of the amount of CO2 exhausted per KWH generated.
In 2018, coal fire power plants accounted for a 32% share of the total power generated, which was the 2nd largest after LNG fire power’s share (38%).
Yomiuri speculates that the government action may be accelerated by the criticism that its attitude is not active enough to implement the Paris Agreement.
Renewable energy’s share was 17% in 2018, while the government is planning to increase its share to 22% to 24% by the year 2030.
Japan once stopped the operation of all the nuclear power plants right after the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant’s accident of 2011.
Since then, the central government with the local government consent has been resuming operation plant by plant after thorough investigation and confirmation of reinforcement for enhanced safety, and by now, 9 nuclear power plants out of 60 are active. 24 are to be decommissioned, and 27 are subject to approval of resumption of the operation or to application for the approval.
The Japanese government completed a draft plan on June 26 to outline national innovation policy titled Integrated Innovation Strategy 2020.
In the draft plan, a new policy is added to strengthen the immigration deliberation processes of students and researchers from abroad.
The government is getting cautious against the case where foreign military or intelligence organizations dispatch their agents under the category of students or researchers to Japanese universities and research institutions, and have them act as academic spy by copying intellectual property.
Please continue to take good care of you and have a safe weekend!