1.     COVID-19 Updates In Japan


l  It seems that the 6th wave of the Covid-19 infection peaked out last week in terms of the number of new cases.  Daily new case numbers have been lower than their corresponding day of the previous week since February 11 without exception.  The number of patients in serious conditions or death have not peaked out yet.

l  PM Kishida held a televised press conference last night and announced that his administration would lift the semi-emergency state of five prefectures (Yamagata, Shimane, Yamaguchi, Oita and Okinawa), while 31 other prefectures including Tokyo, Osaka, Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba would be given an extended period of the state of semi-emergency up to March 6.   Kishida also announced that the administration would loosen the border control as of March 1st by allowing new entry of foreign visitors for business purposes or technical trainees.

l  The Cabinet Office announced on February 15 that Japan’s GDP for October through December of 2021 went up by 1.3% (5.4% p.a.) in real terms (seasonally adjusted) . This makes a GDP increase through the year of 2021 1.7%.

l  SMBC Nikko Securities announced on February 14 that an aggregated amount of profit after tax of listed companies of the 1st Section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange (1,325 companies excluding Soft Bank and financial institutions) , fiscal year of which ends on March 31, 2022, is expected to be 32,990 billion yen (US$286.9 B).  It is a 66.7% increase from the previous fiscal year, and highest ever.


<As of 10 pm of February 17th> 

The cumulative number of infected and dead in Japan are 4,257,408 and 21,273 respectively.  The number of new cases and death in the nation for the day was 95,209 and 271. 80.2% of the population have finished the first dose of the vaccine, while 79.0% have done for the 2nd and 11.9% for the 3rd. 


2. Kishida’s Approval Rating Slowed Down


NHK's monthly survey that was conducted from February 11 through 13 revealed that an upward trend of Kishida Cabinet's approval ratings since the election last year up to January this year might have turned the corner. The Cabinet's latest approval rating declined by 3 points from January to 54%, while its disapproval rating went up by 7 points to 27%.  This is the largest increment of his disapproval ratings since taking office. 38% of those who disapproved the Kishida Cabinet cited the lack of executive ability as main reason for disapproval, while 35% of them said the cabinet's policies do not look promising. Some other key findings out of the poll are as follows:


Do you approval the government's response to Covid-19?   Yes  60%   No  37%

Are you afraid of taking the booster shot?         Yes 39%  No 55% 

Should the tight border control be continued?   Yes 57%  No 32%

Do you approve the government's decision to divert its importing natural gas to Europe to assist the region to take tough positions against Russia if Russia invades Ukraine?   Yes 62%  No 15%


3. Five Former PMs’ Anti-Nuclear Power Campaign 


The following five former prime ministers from different parties jointly wrote to EU last month to explain that the negative impact caused by the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident, which was induced by the Eastern Japan Great Earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011 is still giving pain to local people, and urged the leaders of EU to abandon nuclear power generation.   


Mr. Junnichiro Koizumi, who lead LDP and assumed PM from 2001 to 2006

Mr. Naoto Kan, who headed Democratic Party of Japan and assumed PM from 2010 to 2011 (he was the PM at the time of the Eastern Japan Great Earthquake)

Mr. Yukio Hatoyama, who led Democratic Party of Japan and took PM office from 2009 to 2010 

Mr. Morihiro Hosokawa, who headed Japan New Party and assumed PM from 1993 to 1994 

Mr. Tomiichi Murayama, who headed Socialist Party and took PM office from 1994 to 1996     


In the letter, the five PMs described that children who lived and were exposed to the area of the nuclear power plant accident have been suffering from thyroid cancer, and quite a lot of Japan’s wealth vanished due to the accident.

The letter upset the LDP led administration, who has been carefully resuming the nuclear power plant operations through sever stress tests.  

Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno earlier announced at the press conference that the letter in question contains misunderstanding, which, the administration is afraid, would cause unnecessary discrimination and biased views for children in Fukushima.  

He also told the media that Minister Yamaguchi of the Environment Ministry directly explained to the ambassador of EU in Japan about the facts and data to avoid any misunderstanding.  

This week, several Diet members from both the ruling parties and some opposition parties demand a Diet resolution to denounce the act of the five PMs. 


4. ANA, Toyota and Joby To Collaborate In Japan For Flying Vehicle Operations


Yomiuri reported on February 15 that ANA, Toyota and Joby of the United States would begin negotiation for collaboration with regard to flying vehicle operations in Japan.  Toyota invested US$394 million in Joby in 2020, and the two companies had been co-developing electrified flying vehicle since then.  


This time, ANA intends to reinforce its mid-range domestic transportation service with this flying vehicle based operations by providing know-hows of flight management and so forth. Toyota is also aiming at providing ground transportation services from and to the landing and taking-off points of this flying vehicle operations. 


Joby’s flying vehicle is designed to have the following performance features:  


Max cruising range:           270 km

Max flying speed:              320 km/h

Number of passenger:      5 people  



Have a wonderful weekend!