l Citing the pace of the declinations of the number of newly infected people in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama is slower than expected, PM Suga announced on March 5 that the state of emergency status would be extended through March 21 from March 7. The number of newly infected people in Tokyo has been somewhere between 200± and 300± since the last digest. 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 The media reported on March 9 that a Japanese medical equipment company by the name of TERUMO got the government approval for medical use of its developed syringe, which enables 7 doses instead of 6 to be taken out of the one bottle of the Pfizer vaccine. TERUMO announced that it would immediately supply 20 million of those syringes throughout Japan.
l The media reported this week that the central government, the Tokyo Metropolitan government and the Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee discussed on the possibility of allowing the entry of foreign spectators of the Olympic and Paralympic games in this summer. Judging from the fact that the British strain, South African strain and Brazilian strain mutants of the covid-19 are gradually spreading in Japan, and they are much more transmissive than the original strain, the three organizations reached a basic agreement not to permit foreign visitors’ entry as spectator of the event, and present its plan to the IOC soon.
l According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications’ announcement of March 9, Japan’s household consumption in the month of January declined by 6.1% to 267,760 yen (US$2,457) in comparison with the same month last year. The declination is considered attributable to the government’s 2nd state of emergency announcement to highly populated prefectures, which is leading to practicing self-control of dining outside and of pleasure travels. According to the Cabinet Office’s statistical data announced on March 9, the economy of Japan shrunk by 4,8% through the calendar year of 2020.
The 11th of March marked the 10th anniversary of the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake (magnitude 9 and highest seismic intensity (7) on the Japanese seven-stage seismic scale), which soon caused tsunami over the shore of Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibaragi and Chiba.
Also, the earthquake subsequently caused the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant’s meltdown and hydrogen explosions. The following casualties and damage caused or induced by the disasters are recognized as of today:
Disaster induced death 3,775
Evacuees 41,241 (mostly the people evacuated from the Fukushima Daiichi NPP area)
Houses destroyed 405,117
Most of social infrastructure such as roads, highways, railways, houses, utility and schools that were destroyed by the tsunami have been restored on a hill or on the artificially elevated ground with very tall banks. However, people have not fully returned to their original towns yet for various reasons including the lack of job at the local industries (agriculture, fishing, fish meat processing, tourism and so forth). The ban of entering several towns near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant area was lifted for some specific residential areas, but people in the other restricted areas are still living in the government prepared evacuees temporary houses or their relative’s houses throughout Japan.
The central government and Tokyo Electric Power Company have been carefully proceeding with the decommissioning of the nuclear reactors of the Fukushima Daiichi NPP including removing debris, which are made of nuclear fuel and melted reactor structure, draining and storing in the tanks the contaminated cooling water, and building a temporary structure to fully cover the top of the plant structure of #1, #3 and #4 plants that were collapsed due to the hydrogen explosion so that contaminated dust which may go up in the air by the decommissioning work inside the structures should not go outside of the individual buildings .
In the past 10 years, the government collected 35.3 trillion yen as additional tax and spent for the recovery of the Tohoku area. Besides, more than a million of volunteers have been gathering, and many NPOs and NGOs were founded to help local people, yet the full recovery is still a long way to go, the media reports.
According to Yomiuri’s monthly survey that was conducted on March 5 through 7, Suga Cabinet’s approval rating went up by 9 points to 48% from the previous month, and its disapproval rating went down by 2 points to 42%. It’s been a while since December 26 and 27’s survey that PM Suga’s monthly approval rating was higher than his disapproval rating. It is analyzed that the recent declinations of the number of the newly infected covid-19 patients helped the improvement of the ratings. It is because the respondents who approve the government’s response to the pandemic went up by 11 points to 45% in this month (50% still do not approve it, though). 38% said that the pace of the vaccination is slower than expected, while 20% said it’s faster than expected and 39% said just as expected.
The approval ratings of the political parties are as follows:
LDP 40% (37%)
CDPJ 6% (5%)
Yomiuri reported on March 10 that at a Chatham House event of March 9, Mr. Matt Warman, British Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital Infrastructure expressed British government’s plan to strengthen cooperation with the Japanese government to introduce the 5G infrastructure in the country.
The UK government already decided to eliminate the Huawei products out of its 5G network infrastructure, while in November last year, it announced to begin a 5G network demonstration program with NEC in Japan.
Please continue to have a safe and pleasant weekend!