l The number of newly infected people sharply increased in the past weeks, exceeding 2,200 a day, which is the highest ever since the pandemic. The infection rate is now highest in Hokkaido, followed by Osaka. Tokyo is in the top five. The governor of Hokkaido and Osaka are tightening their local restrictions of gatherings and events.
l Judging from the data between the infection rates and the size of parties of gatherings, the central government is requesting people in Japan to refrain from dining or drinking with a party of five or larger. .
l The President of IOC Mr. Thomas Bach visited Japan and met with PM Suga, former PM Abe, Governor Koike and the top leaders of the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games on November 17. Following day, he visited the Olympic stadium as well as some other event places where some of the Olympic/Paralympic games would take place. At a press conference after those meetings and visits, Mr. Bach expressed his confidence to hold the Olympic and Paralympic games next year as currently scheduled with spectators with the highest priority of keeping both athletes and spectators safe and secure.
l NHK’s monthly survey, which was conducted on November 6, 7 and 8, revealed that the approval rating of the Suga Cabinet went up by 1 point to 56% from the previous month, while its disapproval rating went down to 19% from 20%. 60% of the respondents approved the government’s countermeasures to COVID-19, while 34% disapproved them. 67% replied that they would not return to parents’ home or travel domestically during the year-end/beginning of the year holidays considering the surging corona infection. 61% approved the climate policy goal announced by PM Suga recently that Japan would have achieved a GHG net-zero society by 2050.
l The Cabinet Office announced on November 16 that Japan’s GDP for July through September went up by 21.4% on an annually adjusted basis from its previous quarter, which went down by 28.8%. It is still way below the level of before-corona days like January this year, and the recovery is far from a V-shaped one. According to the trade statistics announced by the Ministry of Finance on November 18, Japan’s exports for the month of October was just 0.2% below the amount of the same month a year ago. Exports of automobile and auto parts to the United States, and exports of semiconductor production equipment and automobile to China are rapidly recovering, which seem to have contributed to catching up the pace of the pre-corona period exports.
After about 8 years of negotiations, the leaders of Japan, China, Korea, Australia and New Zealand as well as the 10 ASEAN nations finally agreed online on November 15, and signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement.
Originally, India was included, but it decided last fall to get out of the deal in order to protect its domestic industries.
The deal sets new rules to promote investment by standardizing royalty of technology and business models, to prohibit any member nations from demanding online businesses to localize their servers, and to obligate the member nations to issue temporary stay permit to visitors from any member nations.
As a whole, 91% of the tariffs of all the participating countries will be eliminated eventually under this new agreement.
With RCEP’s effectuation, around 80% of Japan’s entire trade amount will be dealt with its free trade partners.
PM Suga placed a call to President-elect and former Vice President Joe Biden on November 12 to congratulate Mr. Biden’s victory of the presidential election.
The two agreed to strengthen the Japan-U.S. security alliance, cooperate with each other for a peaceful and stable Indo-Pacific region and collaborate on such common issues like the new coronavirus and climate change.
During the telephone conversation, President-elect Biden raised the topic of the Senkaku Archipelagos issue and promised to apply Article 5 of the security alliance agreement to defend the islands if any of the islands is invaded.
PM Suga raised the topic of the North Korean abduction issue, and asked for continuous support from the United States.
A Japanese astronaut Mr. Soichi Noguchi is a crewmember of the U.S. commercial space ship “Crew Dragon”, which was launched from the Kennedy Space Center on November 15 and successfully docked with the International Space Station.
Mr. Noguchi is scheduled to stay in the ISS for a half year and to conduct various medical and scientific experiments in the Japanese experiment compartment “Kibo” as well as releasing some extremely small satellites into the space.
The US Defense Department’s Missile Defense Agency announced on November 17 that a new missile designated as SM3 Block2A that had been under co-development between Japan and the United States successfully intercepted a target that simulated an ICBM.
Originally, the SM3 Block 2A was intended to intercept Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile.
The U.S. Congress, however, demanded that it should be tested to prove its effectiveness against ICBM as well so that the U.S. deterrence against the increasing number of ICBM stockpiles in the hostile nations like North Korea would be enhanced.
The test was conducted on November 16 by launching the target from a U.S. Forces’ facilities in Marshall Islands, and an Aegis ship positioned off the Hawaii coast launched an SM3 Block2A, which hit and destroyed the target.
Please continue to take good care of you and have a safe weekend!