1. COVID-19 Updates In Japan
l The UK type mutation led 4th wave in Osaka is overwhelming the medical system in the prefecture as doctors there describe the situation “devastating” as if a huge natural disaster swept the town. The number of infected people in the prefecture is more than 1,200 a day this week. Osaka’s number has been the highest among the 47 prefectures including Tokyo since the last digest(Tokyo is 1.5 times larger than Osaka in terms of population). Since there is no law available to enable the central government or governors to lockdown a prefecture, Governor Yoshimura demanded the Suga Administration this week to apply another state of emergency to his prefecture early this week, and PM Suga agreed to take that action starting on April 25 lasting through May 11. It is going to be the 3rd state of emergency announcement to Osaka. Tokyo, where the number of new cases is around 800 per day as of yesterday, seems to be following Osaka’s path with an around two week time lag. On the 20th, Governor Koike decided to ask the central government to also apply the state of emergency announcement to Tokyo. Hyogo and Kyoto, which are geographically attached to Osaka and observing a surge of the infection this month, also decided to ask for the state of emergency, while Tokyo’s neighbors, namely Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba are holding that request as of today due, probably to that fact that the number of new cases in those three prefectures have not risen yet for some time.
l PM Suga announced on the 19th that he directly talked to Mr. Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer during his stay in the U.S. for the meeting with President Biden, and agreed to receive an additional supply of Pfizer’s vaccine so that the doses will be secured by September to cover all the subject of the vaccination in Japan, i.e. around 110,000,000 people, meaning 220,000,000 doses.
l On April 19, the Ministry of Finance announced its trade statistics of Japan’s fiscal 2020 that Japan’s exports declined by 8.4% to 69.5 trillion yen (US$0.63 trillion) from 2019, while its imports decreased by 11.6% to 68.2 trillion yen (US$0.62 trillion). The numbers reflect the impact of the COVID-19 over the economy. The depths of the decrease of both exports and imports are as large as the ones in JFY2009 when the Lehman Brother’s shock affected Japan’s trade seriously. By regions, Japan’s exports to the United States and EU declined by 16.5% and 12.5% respectively, while its exports to China increased by 9.6%. Japan’s imports of crude oil went down by 49.2% due to the low demand and low oil prices.
In the wake of agreeing on the Climate Partnership on Ambition, Decarbonization, and Clean Energy with the United States on April 16 when he met with President Biden at the Whitehouse, PM Suga announced his administration’s bold commitment on April 22 that Japan would aim at reducing GHG emission of 2030 by 46% from the level of 2013, with a 50% reduction goal on a best effort basis.
This announcement was made right before PM Suga’s attending the first Global Climate Summit that was organized by President Biden on an online basis inviting 27 major GHG emitting countries.
The media loudly reported on April 20 that the Tokyo Metropolitan Police identified two Chinese individuals as suspects related to around 200 cyber-attacks in the past to Japanese defense and aircraft companies, research institutions and universities including JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) .
One suspect is a member of Chinese Communist Party, who has a system engineering job in China. According to TMP, this person used a false name to rent a server and passed its ID and password to Tick, a Chinese hacker group, who were suspected to have conducted the aforementioned cyber-attacks. The other suspect is a Chinese student, who reportedly received instructions from an individual who belongs to the 61419 Unit, which is specialized in cyber-attacking under People’s Liberation Army.
Although the two suspects have been gone back to China, TMP said it would send the papers pertaining to a criminal case to the Public Prosecutors Office at least for the Communist Party Member.
Yomiuri reported on April 22 that Financial Services Agency is going to release a guideline for the Japanese financial institutions within this fiscal year to cope with the climate change risks. Such a guideline is expected to assume the climate change issues as a risk that destabilizes the Japanese financial system on a mid to long-term basis. The guideline requires banks and insurance companies to quantify the climate risks and reflect them in their individual business plans.
They are also expected to provide preferable loan conditions to those who are taking actions to be prepared to mitigating the climate change risks and to shape up operations toward “zero-carbon”. Financial Services Agency will aim at the mega banks as its first subject of the guideline, while gradually expanding its application to local banks, who cover most of SME and their supply chains.
Please continue to have a safe and pleasant weekend!