l Despite the government’s public campaign to peak out the ever growing infection in the three weeks from November 25 through December 17, the national number of newly infected people has still been climbing up, exceeding 3,000 a day, which is the highest ever since the pandemic.
l Although PM Suga had been stressing some experts’ comments that there is no correlation between the surge of the infection and his initiative of “Go To Travel” - a government sponsored campaign to provide financial incentives for individual travels, lodgings and purchasing local souvenirs, he eventually agreed to put this incentive program on hold this week to try every possibility to slow down the infection growth.
l The Bank of Japan’s quarterly short term economic survey of principal enterprise in Japan for December revealed an improvement of the perception of the economic state. This is the two consecutive term improvement since September thanks to the auto industries’ increase of sale and hospitality related industries, sales of which have been remarkably increased thanks to Go To Travel and some other government led incentive programs. Now that the subsidy programs are to be put on hold, how big its negative impact would be in the next survey is yet to be seen.
l According to November’s trade statistics that were announced by the Ministry of Finance on December 16, Japan’s exports for the month declined by 4.2% from November last year. Its exports to the U.S. went down by 2.5% although automobile and construction/mining machines’ exports to the U.S. increased, while aircraft parts exports decreased significantly. Japan’s exports of November to China increased by 3.8% from the same month in 2019. It is the 5th month of increase in row. Japan’s imports of November declined by 11.1% due mostly to significant reduction of the demand of crude oil and natural gas. It is the 19th month of decrease of imports in row.
l Reportedly, Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation would cut its workforce by 90% or more due to the recent decision to freeze the production plan of Mitsubishi Space Jet, two types of regional jet aircraft with 70 passengers and 90 passengers versions to cope with the global pandemic situations. Mitsubishi Heavy Industry, which is a parent company of MAC, will absorb around 1,800 or more out of around 2,000 employees at MAC. Although the company continues to follow the qualification procedures to acquire Type Certificate of MSJ from Japan Civil Aviation Bureau, its full production won’t start until 2024.
The Suga administration solidified a policy to initiate in the next fiscal year building a US Navy’s Field Carrier Landing Practice (FCLP) field on Mageshima, which is an unpopulated small island 12km west of Tanegashima of Kagoshima Pref, Yomiuri reported on December 15.
Currently, US Navy’s FCLP trainings of fighter pilots onboard the aircraft carriers of the US Navy are conducted on Iwojima by flying their planes around 1,400 km from the Iwakuni base, which makes search and rescue operations very difficult should any accident occur.
To mitigate this concern, the government of Japan and of the United States agreed in the past to find a new place relatively near to Iwakuni for the training. With this new airfield on Mageshima scheduled to be operable in 2025, those fighters fly only 400 km from Iwakuni.
The government of Japan will build a 2,450 m main runway and a 1,830 m runway for crosswind.
Simultaneously, the Ministry of Defense will establish a new base for its Self Defense Force having around 150 to 200 SDF members resident on the island.
A new law titled “a law to enhance the transparency, fairness and accountability of specific digital platformers” was passed in this May.
Since then, the government had been considering how to enforce the law.
On December 15, following points of the enforcement were released by the government:
l “Specific digital platformers” shall include Google, Apple, Amazon.com, Rakuten and Yahoo
l A minimum 15-day advance notice is required for the platformers to change preset business conditions with retailers etc. which use their platforms.
l A minimum 30-day advance notice is required for the platformers to terminate the contract with retailers etc. which use their platforms.
l The platformers are required to make a legitimate explanation if they give their own branded services a better condition than their contracted retailers etc.
l The platformers are required to use Japanese expressions that are easy to understand.
METI will hire several IT experts, who will play watchdog roles to implement the low enforcement.
With an around 5,240,000,000 km flight in six years, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency(JAXA)’s asteroid explorer by the name of Hayabusa 2 released toward the earth a capsule that contains a specimen of sands and tiny pieces of rocks out of an asteroid named Ryugu, and the capsule landed in a targeted area of Australia on December 6.
Hayabusa 2 landed on Ryugu two times, one in February and the other in October of 2019, and successfully collected the specimen.
The capsule was retrieved by a team dispatched by JAXA, and flied back to Japan this week for scientific research.
The specimen is expected to contain organic substance and water that constitute life, so its scientific research is expected to find some clue of the history of the solar system and the origin of life.
The Suga administration held a public-private council on December 15 to discuss about how to accelerate the introduction of offshore wind power plants, and announced the following power generation capacities as its official goals:
By 2030 10 MW
By 2040 30 to 45 MW
Also, by 2040, the share of indigenous parts and equipment of the power plants shall be 60% or higher.
Power generation cost shall be lowered down to 8 to 9 yen per KW by the year 2035.
As of 2019, Japan’s wind power capacity was 20 KW as a whole, thus the goals look like a tall order.
The reason for the small capacity is recognized because its development was mostly done by the private sectors without much government support.
Making the official commitment of “Net Zero by 2050”, the administration decided to introduce “Central Method” that the government mostly assumes the responsibility of conducting oceanographic surveys and building transmission lines.
Thank you so much for your friendship for this year. I wish all of you safe and happy holidays and a very prosperous New Year!