l PM Suga, in response to the requests from the governors of the 9 prefectures, announced on May 28 to extend the end date of the state of emergency for Tokyo, Osaka, Hyogo, Kyoto, Fukuoka, Hokkaido, Aichi, Okayama, and Hiroshima from May 31 up to June 20. Okinawa was also added to the group of prefectures that the state of emergency is applied to.
l The numbers of newly infected people in not only these critical prefectures but also in other prefectures are visibly declining in these two weeks although the numbers of the patients in serious conditions remain high limiting the availability of ICUs and facilities that are equipped with the COVID-19 treatment like ECMO so low. That is the background of extending the state of emergency for two more weeks.
l The vaccination is rapidly building up now in Japan thanks to not only the government’s initiatives to mobilize dentists and retired nurses etc. who could make an injection, and to allow schools and business offices to be the place of vaccination, but also local hospitals’ individual innovative ideas to improve the productivity of individual inoculations. Furthermore, Toyota devised a method to make the flow of people before and after the inoculation so efficient, and design the positions of doctors, nurses and advisors so that the productivity is maximized. Also, some sort of mechanisms are being invented to match people who wish to be vaccinated with unused doses of local vaccination spots where scheduled visitors may not show up.
l Among the major papers in Japan, Asahi Shimbun recently made its position clear in its column against holding the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games in July as currently planned. Major public polls in May showed that majorities would like to see the games postponed one more time or just cancelled. In the meantime, the national softball team from Australia arrived in Japan this week. After the strict tests and quarantine period, they will begin a camp in Ohta-shi, Gunma Pref. to get ready for the Olympic games. All the team members from Australia do not have any chance to exchange with local people or to go out for shopping, dining or sightseeing at all other than commuting between their hotel and a local ball bark.
Confronting Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning’s frequent advancement to the pacific ocean through Miyako Strait between the mainland of Okinawa and Miyako Island in the past several years, the Ministry of Defense solidified its policy to deploy Air Self Defense Force’s mobile air defense radar on one of the Ogasawara Islands, Yomiuri reported on May 31.
The Japanese government anticipates that China will advance its presence to the Second Island Chain that China draws on their maps as one of its defense lines against its threat, namely the U.S. military.
The Second Island Chain begins at the Izu Islands near the Tokyo Bay, goes down through the Ogasawara Islands, and ends at the Mariana Islands including Guam and Saipan.
The Japanese Ground Self Defense Force deployed its Coast Surveillance Unit on Yonakuni Island of Okinawa in 2016 to monitor Chinese military activity both military ships and aircraft over the First Island Chain, which starts on Kyushu of Japan, goes through Okinawa, Taiwan and Philippine, and ends on Borneo Island.
In the wake of the Suga-Biden meeting at the Whitehouse in April, which resulted in a framework called “Global Digital Connectivity Partnership” involving allies and friendly nations, high-ranking officials of the two administrations met in the end of May to discuss about how Japan-U.S. cooperation in the digital field be implemented, and confirmed to expand the bilateral collaboration to the Indo-Pacific region, Europe and Latin American nations.
Concretely, by promoting “Open Specification” for 5G base stations and sea submarine cables to be adopted by the other nations, the two governments intend to counter China’s aggressive expansions of the Huawei’s 5G network systems in the world and Chinese undersea cables.
Fujitsu and NEC are currently leading this Open Specification for 5G.
The two nations also cooperate with each other in developing 6G by sharing the required investment ($2 billion by Japan and $2.5 billion by the U.S.)
The TPP Committee, which consists of minister class representatives of the 11 TPP member nations held an online meeting on June 2, and agreed to enter negotiation with the UK, who applied for participation to the Trans Pacific Partnership in February this year.
This is going to be the first negotiation for a new membership since this regional free trade agreement entered in force in 2018.
After the meeting, Mr. Nishimura, Minister of Economic Revitalization, who chaired the TPP Committee told at the press conference that this negotiation with UK should be extremely important as a precedent to maintain TPP’s high standards yet to smoothen the negotiation process (for other potential applicants).
The Agency for Cultural Affairs revealed on May 26 that ICOMOS, an advisory body of UNESCO had made a recommendation that UNESCO register the group of Hokkaido and north Tohoku Jomon ruins consisting of 17 ruins of villages of the Jomon era as World Cultural Heritage.
The Jomon period began around 15,000 years ago and lasted for around 10,000 years.
Unlike the rest of the world where villages were created for agriculture or stock farming, Jomon people made settlements for plants/nuts/fruits collecting, fishing and hunting, remains of which show the development of people’s social and spiritual activities.
There are 23 World Heritages in Japan at this moment, and out of them, 19 are World Cultural Heritage.
Once UNESCO officially registers this group of Jomon ruins, it is going to be the 20th of World Cultural Heritage in Japan.
Please continue to have a safe and pleasant weekend!