1. COVID-19 Updates In Japan
l The 6th wave of the Covid-19 infection hasn’t peaked out yet although the pace of the daily increase of infection is slowing down.
l As of today, 35 prefectures out of 47 in total are under Semi-state of Emergency.
l Although the occupancy ratio of the hospital beds available for covid-19 patients had just exceeded 50% this week, PM Kishida said to the media that his administration is not planning to announce State of Emergency for Tokyo any time soon considering the relatively low ratio of patients in serious conditions. Meanwhile, he asked prefectural and municipal leaders through his Cabinet members to accelerate implementing the booster shots with the central government financial aid.
l Immigration Services Agency announced on January 28 that the number of foreigners who made entry to Japan during the calendar year of 2021 declined by 91.8% to 350,000 in comparison with 2020. The declination rate is the highest ever since the statistics began in 1950. The Japanese government tightened the border control since late January last year, and exceptions were made only for the foreign athletes, their parties, and the foreign press who participated in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic/Paralympic Games, and for those who were permitted to enter Japan for humanitarian reasons or political reasons.
l The Ministry of Health, Wealth and Labor announced on February 1 that CY2021’s average active opening ratio was declined by 0.05 point to 1.13 in comparison with the CY2020. It is the 3rd consecutive year of declination of the ratio representing the negative impact of the pandemic over the job opening market. Average unemployment rate of CY2021 was 2.8%, which remained unchanged from the previous year.
<As of 10 pm of February 3rd>
The cumulative number of infected and dead in Japan are 3,025,620 and 19,069 respectively. The number of new cases and death in the nation for the day was 96,846 and 90. 80.0% of the population have finished the first dose of the vaccine, while 78.8% have done for the 2nd and 4.4% for the 3rd.
2. South Korea Enacted RCEP
Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), an Asia-Pacific regional free trade agreement was signed by 15 countries in November 2020. Out of the 15 countries, 10 countries, namely Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Brunei, Cambodia and Laos enacted the agreement on the New Year day this year going to eliminate most of mutual tariffs. The media reported that on the 1st of February, the South Korean Government enacted RCEP. It is very first time for Japan and South Korea to have a free trade relationship.
South Korea is the 3rd largest trading partner to Japan after China and the United States. 83% of South Korea’s current tariffs being imposed on the items imported from Japan will be eventually eliminated, while 81% of Japan’s tariffs on South Korean items will be eliminated sooner or later. Malaysia is expected to enact the RCEP agreement on March 18, while it is unknown at this moment by when the last three nations – Indonesia, Philippine and Myanmar will finish their individual internal processes to enact the agreement.
3. Issuance Of ESG Bonds Increased By 60% In 2021
The total amount of Environment, Social and Governance bonds that were issued in Japan during the calendar year of 2021 was increased by 60% from 2020 to 3.765 trillion yen (US$32.7 billion) according to SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. It grew more than 10 times since five years ago (2017). Some of the representative ESG bonds issuances are as follows:
l NTT issued ESG bond last October for the amount of 300 billion yen for capital investment to achieve carbon neutral operations.
l AEON Mall issued ESG bond last November for the amount of 20 billion yen to power all its chain stores by renewable energy.
l Nippon Yusen issued ESG bond last July for the amount of 20 billion yen to build an ammonium fueled ship and an offshore wind power support ship.
4. Demonstration Program For Cap & Trade For Individual Behaviors
The Ministry of Environment will begin a five year demonstration program from JFY2022 to visualize GHG emission reductions by eco-friendly behaviors of individuals. The program will select five groups consisting of electric power company, home electronics company, car manufacturer, IT company, retail shops and local government. It will also invite around 100,000 volunteers to participate in the program to share individual users’ eco-friendly behaviors which are recognized by power source (renewable energy), transportation mode (public transportation), temperature setting of air conditioner, eco-friendly durables (EV etc.) and so forth.Data of eco-friendly behaviors are collected through an exclusive application embedded on user’s smart phone, which is linked to an IoT system that connects home electronics, cars and so forth.
All the collected data are analyzed by AI to objectively calculate a CO2 reduction amount individually. The reduction amount will be converted to some points that the government sponsors to be redeemed by the monitored individuals at shops etc. which participate in this program so that the volunteers will be incentivized for eco-friendly behaviors. As the result of this demonstration program, industries, retailers, power companies, transportation service providers and local governments will be able to share some eco-friendly behavior models to be promoted to consumers and households. And, further in future, creating a cap & trade market between consumers and industries based on such objective models is envisioned by the Ministry of Environment.
Winnie is publishing her first book!
Ms. Tan Yijun (Winnie), who used to work at my company is publishing her first book in March. It’s not a novel yet, but a guidebook titled “Experience Japan” under “Lonely Planet Experience” series. The book is featuring “activity” that foreign visitors can experience throughout Japan.Here is the link for advance purchase:
Please take a look.
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Have a wonderful weekend!