1. COVID-19 Updates In Japan
l Although the state of emergency is still in place in Tokyo, Osaka, Hyogo and Kyoto, there haven’t been clear signs of the number of newly infected people remarkably declining in those prefectures yet. New daily infections might have somewhat peaked out or plateaued, but the number of patients in serious conditions is still growing, and in Osaka, the number exceeds the number of available beds prepared for serious conditions. Thus, doctors in Osaka now have to triage incoming patients. All the governors of those four prefectures unanimously requested the central government to extend the state of emergency’s end date from May 11 for a few more weeks, and PM Suga is scheduled to make an announcement tonight to extend it until the end of the month.
l As of May 5, the accumulated number of infected and death since February 2020 are 618,000 and 10,510 respectively.
l The Japanese government announced recently that it would conclude the clinical approval process of the U.S. Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine on May 21. Once approved, it is going to be the second vaccine after Pfizer’s to be publicly inoculated in Japan. The government had already concluded a contract with Moderna to receive 40 million doses by June, and another 10 million doses by September.
l The Ministry of Welfare and Labor announced on April 30 that averaged active job opening rate through Japan’s fiscal 2020 was declined to 1.10 times by 0.45 points from JFY2019. The declination was 2nd largest after 1974 when the first oil shock wave landed Japan. The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication announced on April 30 that averaged unemployment rate through Japan’s fiscal 2020 was increased to 2.9% by 0.6 points from JFY2019.
l Yomiuri conducted a survey from March through April with regard to the novel coronavirus perception. 88% replied that there is a sense of discrimination against infected people in Japan, and 83% said they are afraid of being discriminated once infected. 82% believe that the vaccination will subdue the pandemic, and 87% said they hope to be able to inoculate the vaccine sooner or later. The respondents trust medical institutions most (91%), followed by experts and specialists (78%), prefectural and municipal governments (71%). The central government and WHO got 50% each and ranked the lowest.
Taking the opportunity of the G7 Foreign Ministers’ summit meetings that were held this week in London, Japan’s Foreign Minister Motegi actively held private meetings with his counterparts from the U.S., U.K., Canada and Germany separately, and shared the latest recognition of the political and security concerns in the Indo-Pacific region with regard to the rule of law, international order of ocean, human rights and so forth.
Motegi laid the groundwork for the G7 meetings to conclude that the advanced nations would collaborate with each other for the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Ocean Concept” that Japan had been promoting as well as for the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait.
Besides, Secretary Blinken organized a U.S.-Japan-Korea foreign ministers’ meeting during the week and talked about the North Korean denuclearization.
Furthermore, Motegi was able to have a face-to-face meeting with his Korean counterpart Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong, who participated in the G7 meetings as an observer.
It’s been more than a year since the two nations had a face-to-face diplomatic meeting last time.
Although Mr. Motegi requested that the Korean government to follow the international law and to observe the past bilateral agreements between the two nations, which had been reversed or contested by the Korean courts, Mr. Chung Eui-yong repeated the political positions that the Moon Jae-in administration had been taking.
The two agreed to continue to hold direct talks.
This year’s “Golden Week” started on April 29 for Showa Day (late Showa Emperor’s birthday) and ended on May 5 for Children’s Day.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications announced on May 4 that the number of Children in Japan as of April 1 cut 15 million, for the first time, down to 14.93 million.
14 years old and below are counted as “children”.
The number has been declining without exception since 1982.
And if we divide the number of children into age groups (0-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-11, 12-14), the younger the group is, the smaller the number of children in the group.
So, the declination trend is anticipated to continue for years to come.
In honoring Constitution Memorial Day of May 3, Yomiuri released its annual survey results with regard to people’s recognition of the Constitution.
The survey was conducted from March 9 through April 15 by mailing questionnaire to around 3,000 electorates.
56% of the respondents replied that they would think it better that the Constitution be amended, which is 7 points higher than the previous year, while 40% said it shouldn’t be amended, which is 8 points lower than last year.
95% said they now recognize China’s frequent violations of Japan’s territorial water near the Senkaku Archipelagos as very serious or somewhat serious threat of Japan’s national security.
59% of the respondents said that the Constriction should be amended to give the government wider responsibility and stronger authority to respond emergency situations such as large scale natural disasters and pandemics.
90% replied that the government should be given authority to order lockdowns to local governments to prevent from spreading infections.
The same survey of last year when the former PM Abe was in power showed that both those who approved Abe’s cabinet and those who did not approve it objected Constitutional amendment by higher percentages respectively than the ones this time.
So, the Chinese threat and the pandemic’s bitter experiences coupled with a little more moderate image of PM Suga than former PM Abe seem to have boosted public support for Constitutional amendment.
There are four different types of terrestrial digital broadcasting, namely Japanese type, European type, American type and Chinese type.
The Japanese government had been promoting the Japanese type to overseas market, and so far 19 countries adopted it.
For Sri Lanka, the Japanese type and the European type were on a short list.
The country eventually chose the Japanese type considering the Japanese type’s compatibility with smartphones enabling users to watch TV programs on smartphones more smoothly.
There are more than 30 million smartphones in Sri Lanka, which is more than the population (21.8 million).
In the face of China’s One Belt One Road initiative to promote Chinese infrastructures to Asian countries, the government of Japan launched its infrastructure export strategy in December last year setting an interim goal as 34 trillion yen of exports of Japan’s power plants, railways, plant constructions, terrestrial digital broadcasting, undersea cables and medical information systems etc. to be achieved by the year 2025.
Please continue to have a safe and pleasant weekend!