1. COVID-19 Updates In Japan
l Thanks to the fact that more than 70% had finished the vaccination two times, both the number of new cases and the bed occupancy ratio are dramatically declined to what the media says a level of early 2020 days. Now, almost all the prefectures lifted restrictions of operating hours of alcohol serving at restaurants, bars and izakayas with or without a sort of vaccine passport.
l The media reported on October 28 that the Ministry of Welfare and Labor solidified its policy to allow the booster shot for all the people who had been vaccinated two times. The ministry would recommend an interval of 8 months after the 2nd shot. Doctors and nurses etc. will receive the 3rd shot in December first, followed by senior people early next year.
<As of 12 pm of October 28th>
The cumulative number of infected and dead in Japan are 1,718,368 and 18,249 respectively. The number of new cases and death in the nation for the day was 274 and 9. 77.00% of the population have finished the first dose of the vaccine, while 70.87% have done for the 2nd.
2. Ruling Parties Got Alarm For The October 31 Election
In this official campaign period of the twelve days from October 19 to October 30, all the candidates of the upcoming general election of the House of Representatives had been out to loudly speak out for his or her campaign promises on streets, near stations or public spaces, or from an official campaign cars that were provided by the local election administration committee. One of major differences of the campaign style from the last HoR election four years ago is the use of the Internet. Last time, using websites by candidate for its political campaign during the campaign period was not allowed. But this time, it became legal to use website, blog, SNS, video sharing services like YouTube, and real time streaming services like Ustream to promote candidate’s campaign promises, while dissemination of email campaign messages is still not allowed.
This use of digital media is extremely important for candidates to directly appeal to young voters from 18 years old through 30’s.
Candidate’s purchasing TV commercial spot is still not allowed except for individual political parties’. Since the campaign budget is strictly restricted by law, candidates are no way possible to spend money for mass media anyway. One strategic difference of the campaign of the opposition parties is that most of them decided to present a united front this time only for the purpose of defeating the LDP/Komei coalition. Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, Communist Party, National Democratic Party, Reiwa Shinsengumi and Social Democratic Party had agreed to unify their candidates in 213 small electoral districts out of the total 295.
This facilitates to funnel votes of supporters of the five opposition parties into one single candidate to compete against LDP/Komei’s candidate in that many districts. Despite a variety of differences in social, economic, diplomatic and security policies among the opposition parties, they unite to characterize the Kishida Administration as a quasi-Abe regime, blaming that the Abenomics created the lowest growth of salaries among the G7 nations yet entertaining the rich and wealthy people.
According to NHK’s latest weekly public survey, 48% of the respondents said they would approve the Kishida Cabinet, which is a 2 points higher than a week before, while 27% said they would not, which is a 1 point lower than the previous survey.
The same survey found the approval rating of LDP increased as follows:
Two elections were held on October 24 to fill the vacancy of House of Councilor members, one in Shizuoka Pref. and another in Yamaguchi Pref. Originally, both seats were held by the ruling parties. It turned out that the candidate supported by multiple opposition parties made a surprise win in Shizuoka, while in Yamaguchi, the ruling parties’ candidate succeeded in maintaining the seat. Since these elections were held just one week earlier than the one for the HoR general election, it was recognized as a preliminary skirmish by the political party leaders, most of whom had visited the two prefectures for intensive campaigns. The results of the by-election strongly sounded the alarm bell of the ruling parties for the election on Sunday the 31st. Yomiuri’s latest survey (October 26-28) suggests that the LDP may not be able to keep the present majority share alone because so many more small electoral districts are now found to be a close race.
3. PM Kishida Reassured Free And Open Indo-Pacific Concept With ASEAN
On October 27, PM Kishida participated in this year’s ASEAN summit meeting by online, and expressed his commitment to strengthen the Japan-ASEAN relationship to materialize “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Concept” together. Kishida also announced a new support plan to promote and assist the ASEAN nations in establishing a green-house-gas measuring and validating system. Although no Myanmar representative was there, PM Kishida raised a demand to the military leaders of the country to show constructive milestones to shift its regime to a democratic one. Kishida, then, attended the ASEAN-Japan/China/Korea summit on the same day on an online basis. There, Kishida expressed Japan’s willingness to support the ASEAN nations to establish an infection countermeasures center. He also expressed his concern of the North Korean repeated missile launches, which threaten the regional and international peace and security.
Then, he also attended this year’s East Asia Summit, where the leaders of the ASEAN nations, Japan, China, Korea, United States, India, Australia, New Zealand and Russia gather. Among the issues to be discussed such as the Myanmar, South China Sea, North Korea, AUKUS and the pandemic situations, PM Kishida stressed the importance of peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait, and touched on the human rights issues of Hong Kong and Sinkiang Uigur Autonomous Region of China, Yomiuri reported.
Have a great weekend!