l The number of newly infected people is staying at around 500 a day nationally, and somewhere between 100 and 200 in Tokyo. Less than 10 people are dying every day due to the Corona induced pneumonia.
l On October 1, Go To Eat, another Government led campaign started giving monetary incentive to have lunch or dinner at restaurants whenever users reserve the place through pre-registered booking websites. On the same day, Go To Travel started to cover trips to and from Tokyo. With these series of stimulus, more and more people are out on the street, and at sightseeing spots as well as at restaurants, amusement parks, sports stadiums and hotels.
l On October 1, the Japanese government loosened the restriction of the entry to Japan for businesspersons from its designated countries. Then, the government reportedly solidified a policy to further loosen the restriction within this month so that not only Japanese who had been doing business outside Japan, but also foreigners with proper stay permit can enter Japan without two weeks of quarantine.
l On October 2, Ministry of Welfare and Labor announced that the unemployment rate (seasonally adjusted) of August went up by a 0.1% point from July to 3.0%. Also announced was August’s ratio of job openings to job applicants as 1.04, which is a 0.04 point down from the previous month. Tokyo’s rate went down below 1.0 to 0.91.
l The Bank of Japan announced on October 1 its National Short-Term Economic Survey of Enterprises in Japan. One positive sign out of the survey is large manufacturing companies’ Diffusion Index, which recovered from -34 of the last survey in June to -27. Although it is still negative, some recovery trend is seen in most of the industries both manufacturing and service sectors. The report says that auto industry’s domestic and export sales are recovering fast, which is helping its supply chains and related industries like steel industry recover.
l METI announced on September 30 that the Mining and Manufacturing Production Index for the month of August went up by 1.7% to 88.7 (2015’s index is 100, and seasonally adjusted). Although it is still below 100, this is the third consecutive month of recovery of the index.
l Yomiuri reported on October 1 that the aggregated amount of rough estimate of fiscal 2021 budget (April 2021 through March 2022) submitted by all the ministries and agencies exceeded 105 trillion yen ($ 1 trillion), which is highest ever. Most of the ministries and agencies inflated their individual budget request to cover their own COVID-19 related projects such as online services, infection prevention, grants, subsidies and so forth. Apart from COVID-19, Ministry of Defense also demanded a 3.3% increase of its budget to 5.4 trillion yen. The ministry explains that it will begin an R&D for small satellite constellation, which will be deployed in a relatively low orbit to detect and track Chinese and Russian extremely supersonic gliding weapons.
l The Japanese government and Korean government agreed to reopen mutual visits by businesspersons beginning on October 8.
The United States, India and Australia sent their foreign ministers to Tokyo this week, and Japan’s Foreign Minister Motegi hosted the first four nations meeting for “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy”.
The strategy consists of three pillars: ①Promotion and establishment of rule of law, freedom of navigation and free trade, etc. ②Pursuit of economic prosperity (improving connectivity, etc.) ③Commitment for peace and stability (capacity building on maritime law enforcement, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief cooperation, etc.), but in essence, it is intended to check China’s intent for regional hegemony including building military complex on a man-made island, declaring its territorial sea and air on a unilateral basis in the South China Sea, and the One Belt One Road Initiative.
The four foreign ministers agreed to make this quad meeting a regular one from now on.
Right before this meeting, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a courtesy call to PM Suga, and reconfirmed with Suga to strengthen the mutual security alliance and the priority to be given to achieve Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy.
MoD’s Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency was formed just five years ago aiming at opening defense exports under the new three of principles defense equipment exports that was released in 2014 by then Abe Cabinet to supersede the three principles of arms export ban.
The new principles were made to cope with the changing regional security environment but also to keep the Japanese defense industrial base reasonably healthy.
During the five years up to October 1, the agency achieved only one success in exporting Japanese defense equipment, namely air defense radar system for the Philippine government.
With the support of the agency, Mitsubishi Electric Company concluded the contract with the government of Philippine on August 28 to export its radar system at 10.5 billion yen.
Several years ago, a Japanese team including MHI led by the agency proposed JMSDF’s latest Soryu-type submarine for the submarine tender opened by the Australian government, but the team lost it against a French bidder.
Japan also lost the bid for UK’s ASW aircraft procurement project.
The agency is now targeting at an export of KHI’s C-2 transport aircraft to UAE.
It is now competing against Airbus Industries for final selection.
Share of the defense imports from the United States among MoD’s total defense acquisitions is increasing substantially year by year, squeezing the domestic industrial base, and some of the major defense players like Komatsu had left the industry.
So, the agency is under political pressure to find market for the industrial base.
Yomiuri reported on October 7 that the Suga Administration solidified a policy to create and position Data Strategy under its growth strategy.
PM Suga had already made it clear to accelerate to shape his administration toward an eGovernment by establishing “Digital Agency” and by eliminating hundreds of bureaucratic processes that require individual hankos (stamps) as well as permeating My Number Card for day-to-day activities of most of the residents in Japan.
This digitization initiative is expected to yield quite large volume of digital data, and the Data Strategy is to establish administrative and legal infrastructure for both public and private sectors to cultivate newly accumulated data for entire fields of socioeconomic activity including healthcare, education, infrastructure, finance and so forth.