l The state of emergency for the prefectures of Osaka, Hyogo and Kyoto was lifted a month earlier than the lifting of March 21 for Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba. However, the number of infected people in Osaka and Hyogo has been sharply increasing again since the last digest. This 4th wave seems to be larger than the previous waves in terms of the number of infected people per day, The two governors asked the Suga Administration to designate the prefectures where a specific law to prevent from spreading the virus by giving additional authority to designated governors to contain it, and on April 5, the administration applied the special law to the two prefectures and Miyagi where a surge of the infections were found in the past week. Ms. Yuriko Koike, Governor of Tokyo is now giving alert to the residents that Tokyo would follow the trend of Osaka and Hyogo soon unless the residents practice the self-control tightly, and bars and restaurants follow the strict rules of serving hours and setting up protective devices including acryl based table dividers, air circulators and CO2 sensors, and of mask-wearing dining rules etc.(Just yesterday, PM Suga announced that he received the request from Ms. Koike to apply the special law to Tokyo so that the governor would be able to exercise additional authority to contain the spread of the virus.)
l Following the vaccination of the doctors, nurses and other hospital workers, senior people with 65 years and older will begin inoculation on April 12, the government announced.
l According to the monthly households survey announced by the Ministry of General Affairs and Communications on April 6 for the month of February, the average household spending declined by 6.6% to 252,451 yen in comparison with the same month last year. This is the third consecutive month of declination of household spending from their corresponding months last year. The declinations are considered to be caused by the 2nd State of Emergency, which was declared on January 8 of this year.
Yomiuri reported on April 7 that the governments of Japan and of the United States are preparing for a joint communique to be announced right after the first Suga-Biden meeting, which is scheduled to be taken place on April 16 at the Whitehouse.
The joint communique is anticipated to consist of the following three pillars:
Security and overall matters
l Applying Article 5 of the Japan-U.S. Security Pact to the Senkaku Archipelagoes
l Confirming the significance of “the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait”
l Strengthening cooperation to propel “the Free and Open Indo Pacific Ocean”
l Collaborating for denuclearization of North Korea and for solving the abduction issues
l Establishing supply-chains of semiconductors and so forth without relying on specific supplyer nations
l Jointly pursuing infrastructure projects in third countries
l Cooperating in the field of advanced technologies such as AI and quantum
l Jointly exploring 5G communication networks
l Cooperating for COVID-19 countermeasures
l Establishing Japan-U.S. Climate Change Partnership Treaty
l Jointly working on setting mid to long-term goal of GHG reduction
l Collaborating for the most advanced technologies like high performance battery and hydrogen utilization
It is obvious that the joint communique is intended to show the two nations’ strong tie to check China’s aggressive postures in global diplomacy including vaccine diplomacy, military presence in the East and South China Seas and in controlling supply-chains of strategic items.
Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi suddenly offered a telephone meeting with his Japanese counterpart Foreign Minister Motegi early this week, and it was held in the evening of April 6.
Although Motegi expressed Japan’s deep concern over the human right issue in Xinjiang, and China’s new Coast Guard Law enabling its coast guard to use weapons during its missions under its sole judgement, Wang offered to strengthen a good relationship as responsible leading countries in the region reminding that 2022 is the 50th anniversary of the normalization of the Japan-China relationship.
According to Yomiuri’s monthly survey that was conducted on April 2 through 4, Suga Cabinet’s approval rating went slightly down by 1 point to 47% from the previous month, and its disapproval rating went down by 2 points to 40%. It is the 2nd month in row that monthly approval rating is higher than disapproval rating. On the other hand, the respondents who approve the government’s response to the pandemic went sharply down by 10 points to 35% in this month.This is probably because 70% of the respondents said they are very or somewhat dissatisfied with the vaccination speed in Japan, which is way behind the other advanced nations.
As for the timing of possible dissolution of the House of Representatives followed by the general election, 64% replied that no dissolution is needed, and the HoR members should complete their full term (October), while 20% said it should be in September after the Tokyo Olympic/Paralympic games are over.
As to the question of how long PM Suga should stay in the PM position, 47% responded that up to this September when LDP’s presidential election is held, while 23% said for one to two years, 14% replied as long as possible, and 12% said he should step down immediately. Finally, the following are the results of the respondents’ present choices of political party for the next general election to be held sometime in this year but by October at the latest.
The Japanese government and the German government agreed to hold a foreign and defense ministerial joint meeting, namely 2+2 meeting for the first time in this month, Yomiuri reported on April 5. The meeting is intended to discuss mutual collaboration to achieve the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Ocean” from diplomatic and security perspectives. Setting a new diplomatic strategy titled “Indo-Pacific Ocean Guideline” in last September, Germany is strengthening its commitment in the Indo-Pacific Ocean.Besides, the nation had already announced that it would dispatch its frigate ships into the region in this summer. The two countries signed Intelligence Protection Treaty last month, and Japan would accept the German frigates to visit its ports and would conduct joint exercises in the future.
The top Japanese Sogo Shoshas (General Trading Houses), namely Mitsui, Mitsubishi, Itochu and Sumitomo are investing in some portfolio of decarbonization technologies. Mitsui recently decided to acquire a 15% share of a UK based engineering company having Carbon Capture and Storage technology. Mitsubishi, Itochu and Sumitomo are separately exploring the possibilities with their individual partners in the world to productize ammonium based fuel, which do not emit CO2. PM Suga earlier announced his commitment for a carbon neutral Japan by 2050, and Western countries have been making similar commitment one way or the other, which have been accelerating R&D of decarbonization technologies. The well-known investor Mr. Warren Buffet announced on his birthday of August 30 last year that his company Berkshire Hathaway acquired around 5% each of the top five Sogo Shoshas, i.e. Mitsui, Mitsubishi, Itochu, Sumitomo and Marubeni evenly. Whether he had appreciated those trading houses’ investment portfolios or not is yet to be known.
Please continue to have a safe and pleasant weekend!