1.      COVID-19 Updates In Japan 


l  As we approach winter season, and the air gets dryer, the number of newly infected people is gradually growing, especially in the north, namely Hokkaido.  On November 5th, more than 100 people were found infected in Hokkaido, and the national number exceeded 1,000 for the first time since early August.   

l  On September 30, the Ministry of Welfare and Labor announced that September’s ratio of job openings to job applicants went down by 0.01 point to 1.03 from August.  It is the 9thconsecutive month of declination of the ratio reflecting the worsening job market situations in Japan.

l  METI announced on September 30 that the industrial production index for the month of September went up by 4.0% to 91.6 from August.  Although the value of the index itself is still way below 100, it is the 4th consecutive month of improvement.  

l  According to the statistics of Japanese corporations for fiscal 2019 (April 2019 through March 2020) that were announced by the Ministry of Finance on September 30, the aggregated retained earnings of the entire corporations except for the financial and insurance institutions as of March 31, 2020 went up by 2.6% to 475.2 trillion yen ($4.6 trillion) from 2018.  It is the 8th consecutive annual increase in row. In the meantime, the ordinal income in total declined by 14.9% to 71.4 trillion yen ($690.5 billion) in comparison with that of JFY2018.  The capital expenditure also went down by 10.4% to 44.4 trillion yen.  As such, COVID-19’s negative impact had already been seen in the last fiscal year’s statistics.  


  1. Chinese Public Vessel Poses Serious Concern Near Senkaku Archipelagos 


The 11th Regional Japan Coast Guard Headquarters announced on November 2 that it identified a Chinese public vessel in the contiguous zone of the Senkaku Archipelagos. It marked the 283rd day that such a Chinese public vessel showed up in this delicate region this year. On the same day, Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato stated in a daily press conference that “this frequent passing of the contiguous zone and the violation of our territorial water pose us an extremely serious concern”.  


Whenever it found such a violation by Chinese, the Japanese government made a protest against the Chinese government through diplomatic channel, but it seems the Chinese side has shown no sign to refrain from dispatching such public vessels near the Senkaku Archipelagos. 


  1. MOEX To Increase The Quota Of Foreign Students For National Universities


Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MOEX) reportedly solidified its policy to increase the full quota of foreign students for the national universities beginning in 2022.  

Since 2005, the maximum number of students who are allowed to enter the national universities had been fixed at around 96,000, which include foreign students.  


The share of foreign students out of the total number of the students studying at Japan’s national universities had also been fixed at around 3%, while such shares for private universities had been at around 3.7%.  


By increasing the quota of foreign students for the national universities, MOEX expects that the national universities will be able to proactively invite and accept excellent foreign talents to boost up their academic and research competitiveness and branding, while contributing to improve the national universities’ financial situations. 


Currently, 41.2% of the foreign students in Japan came from China, followed by Vietnam (19.8%), Nepal (8.2%), Korea (7.0%) and Taiwan (3.3%). 


  1. Japan And Australia To Strengthen Security Collaboration


On November 3, Yomiuri reported that PM Morison of Australia would visit Japan in the middle of this month and meet with PM Suga to confirm strengthening mutual security collaboration in the face of China’s rising aggressive advancement to the Pacific Ocean.  


During the meeting, the two prime ministers are expected to conclude an agreement titled Japan-Australia Facilitation Agreement.  


This agreement is expected to facilitate the Japanese Self Defense Force and the Australian Military Forces to conduct a joint exercise or any other joint operations, under which one side stays inside the other country by exempting the customs duty of items to be brought in the country, and by simplifying the procedures that had been needed to bring in weapons and munitions.    


Earlier, the two nations had been in agreement to coordinate some protocols for the JSDF to defend Australian naval vessels with its weapon systems in certain predetermined situations.  


All of this series of movement by the two countries are to promote and implement the Free and Open Indo-Pacific Ocean Concept.


  1. Japan To Export Destroyer To Indonesia


Yomiuri revealed on November 4 that the Japanese government and the Indonesian government are seriously discussing a deal that Japan exports four of its latest model of destroyer to Indonesia, while Indonesia may build another four ships locally under Japanese support.    


Japan Maritime Self Defense Force’s type 30 FFM, the first commission of which is scheduled in 2022, is said to be a probable candidate for this deal.  


This destroyer is designed to be able to play a variety of roles including mine sweeping by onboard UAVs.   


Indonesia is concerned about Chinese aggressive presence around its EEZ off the Natuna Regency in the South China Sea, and is in a hurry to strengthen its naval force.   


When PM Suga visited the nation late last month, he agreed with President Joko to proceed with the discussion to conclude an agreement to facilitate Japan’s transfer of defense systems and technology to Indonesia.   


Senior officers of the JMSDF and persons in charge at its ship builder – Mitsubishi Heavy Industry visited Indonesia in September for initial negotiations.   


Reportedly, Italy has already submitted a proposal of their destroyer and local contents.