l Though the daily announced numbers of infected people in these weeks are still significant in major cities throughout Japan, experts are cautiously suggesting from their statistics that the peak of the second wave of infection was found at the end of July, and the trend of infection is declining.
l The Cabinet Office announced on August 17 that Japan’s GDP of the 2nd quarter (April through June) went down by 7.8% from the previous quarter in a real term. Its annually adjusted figure is a 27.8% declination in a real term. It is the largest shrinkage ever after the WWII.
l The Ministry of Land and Infrastructure announced on August 25 that 4.2 million people used the Go To Travel subsidy – a 50% refund per trip for lodging and transportation expense that were paid to tourism agencies, during the past one month. Despite the surge of the COVID-19 infection and despite the fact that the campaign did not cover Tokyo as its destination or origination, the number of beneficiary was more than originally expected. Now, the government is contemplating to include Tokyo in its applicable destination and origination of travels to be arranged through travel agents.
l The Abe administration held a meeting at the New Corona Virus Countermeasure H.Q. on August 25, and solidified the policy that it should lift the restriction of reentry of those foreigners who have stay permit in Japan, yet left Japan even after the restriction of reentry was in place due to the COVID-19. The policy is expected to be implemented in September. Around 200,000 foreigners out of 2.6 million who have Japan’s stay permit are currently outside Japan waiting for the permission of reentry to Japan. Also, the government will resume to receive foreign students under the government’s scholarship this month expecting around 300 to come to Japan by the end of this month, followed by 2,600 by the end of this fall. Though the government is not permitting general visits from 146 nations, it plans to loosen the restriction as the capacity of the PCR test at the major international airports in Japan is built up next month.
l The Japan National Tourist Organization announced on August 21 that the number of foreign visitors to Japan from April through July declined by 11.5 million, a 99.9% decrease from the same period last year. The number of Japanese people who went abroad in July was 20,300, which is increased from June (10,666), but a 98.8% declination from the same month last year.
Mr. Eisaku Sato’s longest record of term in prime minister’s office, which is 2,798 days, was broken by PM Abe on August 24 when he marked the 2,799th day in the office. Though the term of the current House of Representatives is up to October next year, the term of the presidency of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party comes first in September next year, and Mr. Abe had been making it clear not to seek for revising the party rule for his 4th term.
So, Abe will extend his record by another year or so if nothing unexpected happens in coming months.
There is, however, some rumor cited by the media that PM Abe has some health issue speculated by the fact that he spent one and a half days for his health check at the Keio University Hospital this week.
He stepped down in September 2007 during his first Cabinet due to his chronic disease of ulcerative colitis.
In the wake of the recent announcement by the government that it would close inefficient coal fire power plants by fiscal 2030, the major electric power companies in Japan are trying to modernize the existing coal fire power plants to be compliant with the new efficiency standard.
One example is to make the furnace extremely super critical pressure type in order to increase the temperature of generated steam beyond 600℃, which would lead to around 20% reduction of CO2.
Another possible improvement under consideration is adding biomass fuel to coal fuel.
According to a trial calculation, if 10% of coal fuel is replaced by biomass fuel, CO2 emission is reduced by 10%.
On August 27, PM Abe received at PM’s official residence Gen. John W. "Jay" Raymond, Chief of Space Operations, United States Space Force. The two agreed to strengthen the alliance of the mutual space forces and collaboration in the field of space including Japan’s quasi-zenith satellites program.
It’s been almost six months since PM Abe met with a foreign dignitary last time when he met with a Chinese Communist Party politburo member in February.