l With the visible data of rapidly declining number of newly infected people, the governor of Osaka, Hyogo, Kyoto, Aichi and Fukuoka requested the central government to lift the state of emergency by the end of this week, while the governor of Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba and Gifu decided to continue the state of emergency status through its original end of March 7. The number of newly infected people in Tokyo has been less than 500 since February 7 without exception, and has mostly been less than 300 this week. Also, the number of patients in serious conditions has been consistently declining. However, citing that the declination speed is not sufficient, Ms. Yuriko Koike, Governor of Tokyo and the three neighbor prefectures decided against asking to lift the state of emergency. Governor Koike set the target declination rate at 70% per week, while it’s not been fully met yet.
l Inoculation of the Pfizer vaccine started on February 17 first for tens of thousands of the doctors and nurses who directly interface the infected patients. PM Suga announced this week that vaccination of senior citizens who are 65 years old and above, would begin on April 12.
The government of Japan and of the United States agreed on February 17 to extend for another year through Japan’s fiscal 2021 the special treaty that stipulated Japan’s share of the stationing expense incurred to the U.S. Forces in Japan as 201.7 billion yen (US$1.9 billion).
Japan pays for the salary of the employees working at the welfare facilities of USFJ (155.5 billion yen), the utility cost of the USFJ buildings and facilities (23.4 billion yen) and some others.
The Trump administration had requested a large increase of Japan’s burden sharing, while the Biden administration rather withdrew from the request and agreed with the Japanese counterpart to keep the present level of the share for now, and to revisit the possibility of increasing Japan’s share for fiscal 2022 and after.
Yomiuri reported on February 19 that a French frigate named Prairial, F 731 visited Guam early this month to participate in a Japan-U.S. joint exercise.
The ship will visit Sasebo of Japan soon.
Simultaneously, a French nuclear submarine, Émeraude, S 604 and its support ship went round in the South China Sea.
France has New Caledonia and Polynesia in the South Pacific Ocean, and Le Union in the Indian Ocean as its territory and military fronts having around 7,000 soldiers, and military vessels and aircraft deployed.
France is concerned about the Chinese aggressive advancement of its presence in the South China Sea, which is the background of this series of France’s military demonstrations in the Indo-Pacific region, Yomiuri reported.
Japan’s Fair Trade Commission released its final report on February 17 with regard to large ICT companies’ digital advertisement business practices in Japan.
It pointed out the following concerns against fair trade and consumer protection:
Google, Yahoo and Facebook are taking monopolistic or dominant positions in the Japanese digital advertisement market.
Therefore, abusing such advantageous positions as making unilateral changes of trading conditions or limiting competitions may constitute the violation of the Antitrust Law.
Also, collecting and using personal information for the purpose of their own advertisement operations without full explanation to consumers could be interpreted as another violation of the law.
Based on this final report, the government will solidify its policy in March on how to regulate those tech giant companies in the field of digital advertisement.
Amending the Law with regard to Improving the Transparency and Fairness of the Specified Digital Platforms to cover the digital advertisement field is one of possibilities, Yomiuri reported.
With mounting criticism from domestic and international sources against his sexism statement, Mr. Yoshiro Mori, Chairman of the Tokyo Olympic/Paralympic Organizing Committee stepped down from the position, and a selection committee was formed with the members of TOC and some athletes last week to pick up his successor.
On February 18, the committee selected and asked Ms. Seiko Hashimoto, Minister of Tokyo Olympic/Paralympic Ministry to assume the chairwoman’s position.
Ms. Hashimoto decided to take the position on the same day by leaving not only the ministerial position but also her belonging party, Liberal Democratic Party.
Ms. Tamayo Marukawa, a member of House of Councilors and a former Environment Minister was nominated by PM Suga to lead the Tokyo Olympic/Paralympic Ministry.
When a G7 Summit meeting was held online at 11 pm of February 19 Japan time, PM Suga, after explaining how his administration is implementing the safety measures against the covid-19 infection, delivered his determination and confidence to hold the Olympic and Paralympic games as scheduled in this summer, asking the six other leaders to support his commitment.
Reportedly, the six other premiers positively recognized PM Suga’s determination and agreed to support his effort to implement the safety measures, while it is too early for them to commit to sending the national teams of athletes respectively.
Japan Spirits & Liquors Makers Association recently announced that it set the standard of indigenously made whisky, which their manufacturers will be able to brand and merchandize as “Japanese Whisky”.
Water has to be sourced inside Japan, and its entire processes including distilling have to be set inside Japan.
Then, distilled unblended whisky has to be put in a wooden barrel of the capacity of 700 little or below, and stored inside Japan for minimum three years since barreled before merchandized.
For whatever the reasons are, Japanese whisky brands are so popular in the foreign markets that even such unblended malt whisky as distilled outside Japan but bottled in Japan are now exported as “Japanese whisky”.
With this as a background, the association decided to set the self-standard to protect the quality and brand of real Japanese whisky.
The Japanese government earlier set aside 2 trillion yen (US$19.0 billion) out of the 3rdSupplemental Budget for its fiscal 2020 as a fund to promote decarbonization innovations, and now it is creating an environment to support start-up companies in the field of decarbonization innovations and digital innovations.
One example is to encourage various HR brokers with subsidy to promote experts out of their human resources suitable to scale up those startups.
Also, even large companies are encouraged by subsidy to create corporate ventures in such innovative fields. Furthermore, the government is encouraging foreign talents to start up their own companies in Japan by loosening the requirements of “Management and Administrative Visa”.
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8. Hideyoshi And Ieyasu Recognized In Italy In 17th Century
According to Yomiuri, it was revealed that a book “Lives of Famous Generals” that was published in Italy in 1683 containing the biography of the 100 world famous military commanders, covered Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who unified Japan through the Age of the Provincial Wars of 16th century, and Tokugawa Ieyasu, who destroyed the family of Toyotomi in early 17th century, and started the Edo era.
The book showed the portrait of the two leaders with the following description of the appearance:
“Hideyoshi was small but robust, and rough by nature. He built up brutality and aggressiveness year by year.”
“Ieyasu had a fine physique of medium height with dark eyes. He had some virtue, yet evil, greed, arrogance, carefulness and foxiness prevailed.”
Experts suggest that the author of the book Mr. Lorenzo Crasso probably read many letters from Jesuit’ missionaries who were resident in Japan in those days, and came up with those images and characters of the two samurai leaders.
Please continue to have a safe and pleasant weekend!