1.    COVID-19 Updates In Japan


l  Though all the semi state of emergency applications are lifted, some of the prefectures are seeing slight rebound of the number of new cases this week.  

l  In Tokyo, more than half of new cases are now infected by BA.2 type Omicron variant. The new variant seems to be rapidly building up its share of new cases throughout Japan. 

l  Yomiuri reported this week that the pandemic had been spurring the trend of the declination of having babies in Japan. In fact, the number of newly born babies in 2021 was far below the past trend line, almost reaching the level of 2031 on the trend line.  Analysts suggest that the pandemic had been making young couples in Japan delay getting married or having babies.   


<As of 10 pm of March 31st> 

The cumulative number of infected and dead in Japan are 6,565,310 and 28,124 respectively.  

The number of new cases and death in the nation for the day was 51,903 and 102.  

80.9% of the population have finished the first dose of the vaccine, while 79.5% have done for the 2nd and 41.0% for the 3rd. 


2.  Japan’s Economic Disparity Widely Felt By The Public


According to a public survey on Japan’s economic disparity, which was conducted by Yomiuri from January 25 through February 28, 88% of the respondents replied that Japan’s overall economic gap in general is serious.  

Key findings are as follows:     


Economic differences caused by occupation and type of job are serious.                     Yes 84%          No 15%    

Gap between regular employees and irregular employees are serious.                        Yes 84%          No 15%            

Economic differences caused by parents’ income or wealth are serious.                      Yes 76%          No 23%            

Economic differences caused by educational background are serious.                        Yes 66%          No 34%            

Gaps between generations are serious.                                                                         Yes 67%          No 32%            

Economic differences between urban cities and rural towns                                          Yes 72%          No 26%

Gender gaps                                                                                                                   Yes 61%          No 38%            

Which economic differences have you ever felt or experienced?   

Occupation and type of job                                42%

Regular employees and irregular employees     47%

Parents’ income or wealth                                  31%

Educational background                                     30%

Generation gap                                                  23%                 

Urban vs. rural                                                    33%

Gender gap                                                        27%


3.  U.S. Ambassador Emanuel’s Visit To Hiroshima


Facing the threat of nuclear weapons use implied by Russian President Putin, PM Kishida and the United States’ Ambassador to Japan Mr. Rahm Emanuel jointly visited Hiroshima on March 26, and condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine as well as Putin’s mentioning Russian nuclear force readiness.  Also, North Korea’s launching a new type of ICBM is posing serious threat not only to Japan but also to the U.S. The two gentlemen visited Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park and offered flowers to its memorial cenotaph for the Atomic Bomb Victims.  Kishida has been conscious of his background as the first prime minister from Hiroshima Prefecture by delivering political messages to explore “a world without nuclear weapons”.   


He is considering to organize an “International Wisemen Conference” in Hiroshima this year to innovate possible approaches toward his vision of no nuclear weapons world.Ambassador Emanuel was then Chief of Staff at the White House when President Obama declared in 2009 that he would pursue “a world without nuclear weapons”. With these mutual common backgrounds, the two demonstrated an attitude that Japan and the United States of America collaborate with each other to step forward to the vision of no nuclear weapons world.  


4.  Japan To Keep Its Share Of Russian Oil & Gas Projects Intact


Though Japan has been implementing a series of economic sanctions against Russia right after its invasion of Ukraine, the Japanese government would not give up Japan’s equity share of oil and gas development and production projects that are ongoing in Russia, Yomiuri reported on March 27.  Japanese companies have been equity partners of Sakhalin 1, Sakhalin 2 and Arctic LNG 2 projects.  In 2010, a Japanese oil and gas developer withdrew from the Azadegan oil field development project in Iran in order to avoid the negative effect of the American sanctions against Iran.  After Japan’s exit, China succeeded the Japanese equity of the Iranian project.  So, exiting from the Russian oil and gas development and production projects may simply facilitate China to enhance its energy source by taking over the Japanese shares and would not necessarily serve for the purpose of sanction.


Rather, it would help both Russia (foreign currency issue) and China (energy source expansions).  Of course, the government of Japan expects that keeping these Russian supply sources would contribute to Japan’s energy security and the stability of energy prices in Japan. Imports of Russian petroleum and LNG account for 4% and 8% of Japan’s total imports respectively.   

In the meantime, Russian oil, natural gas and LNG account for 15%, 9% and 7% of all that China imports from the world.


Spring has come!  The cherry blossoms near my office bloomed this week.





Have a wonderful weekend!