1.    COVID-19 Updates In Japan


l     The numbers of new cases are surging this week all over Japan, and some experts are warning that we got into the 7th wave. The majority of the virus is now Omicron’s BA5 strain that has the highest transmissibility ever. At this moment, none of local governments or the central government mentioned any plan to restrict people’s activity or suggest self-control as well as any border controls. 

l    Major retail businesses including convenience stores, super markets and department stores announced this week a big increase of revenue in this March-May period reflecting strong consumption recovery thanks to the lifting of most of the pandemic related restrictions or self-controls of people’s activity.  Meanwhile, ANA announced on the 7th that the number of passengers who flew ANA in June came back to an around 70% level of the pre-pandemic period.  The airline expects that it will go up to a 90% of the pre-pandemic level in this July/August period.


<As of 8 pm of July 7> 

The cumulative number of infected and dead in Japan are 9,551,296 and 31,392 respectively. The number of new cases and death in the nation for the day was 47,977 and 15. 81.9% of the population have finished the first dose of the vaccine, while 80.8% have done for the 2nd and 62.1% for the 3rd.   The 4th shot began in May for those who are 60 years old and above as well as who have higher risk of getting serious conditions out of the infection. As of July 6, 23% of the seniors received the 4th vaccination.


2.  Ruling Parties Ready For Sunday’s Upper House Election As Kishida’s Approval Rating Continues To Stay Over 50%


According to NHK’s monthly survey that was conducted on July 1 through 3, 54% of the respondents approved the Kishida Cabinet, which is a 4 points increase from June, while 27% disapproved it, which remains unchanged from the previous month.   

Other major findings are as follows:    


Will you vote for the election of half the member of the House of Councilors of July 10?     

Yes for sure 48%       

Probably 24%   

Voted early 11%   

Not sure 9%      

No  5%  


To what extent are you interested in the Upper House election?          

Very much 20%        

Reasonably interested 49%  

Not much 20%    

Not at all 5%   


What would you like to see as political power balance as the result of the election? 

Ruling parties to increase the share 24%    

Opposition parties to increase the share 28%     

Not sure  40%


To what extent do you consider candidates’ policies against inflation?

Very much 25%      

To some extent 45%           

Not much 17%             

Not at all 5%


The share of women out of all the candidates of the Upper House election this time is the highest ever.  Do you want to see the election resulting in a higher share of women in the members of the House of Councilors?

Yes 50%         

No need of an increase 10%              

Not sure  34%  


Which party do you approve most?

LDP                              35.6%

CDPJ                             5.8

      New Komei                    4.8

Japan Restoration          5.4

Communist                     4.0     


3. Ruling Parties Expected To Keep The Majority Of The Upper House


A half of the 250 seats of the House of Councilors are reelected on this Sunday.  The ruling parties currently have 69 out of the 125 to be contested, and some forecasters predict that LDP and New Komei together may increase the number to 76. It means 146 seats in total for the chamber, but it doesn’t reach the super-majority (167).  So, the ruling parties are expected to court Japan Restoration Party, who also aims at Constitutional Amendments to reach the super-majority to initiate a Constitutional Amendment motion, if so needed.


4.  Chinese And Russian Naval Vessels Showed Up Near Senkaku


Japan’s Ministry of Defense denounced on July 4th that a Chinese frigate ship passed through the contiguous area of the Senkaku Archipelagos in the morning of the day.  Right before this passing, a Russian frigate ship was found in the same area near Senkaku. The Russian vessel might have stayed there to avoid encountering a typhoon, which had been near Kyushu Island by that time.  Some experts suspect that the Chinese ship followed the Russian frigate’s move to monitor its intent and activity in the area. Regardless of where their intents were this time, the Chinese and Russian militaries had been keeping some naval and aerial presence around Japan since the breakout of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24. Some are obvious to deliver provocative messages against the gatherings in Japan of QUAD and so forth, and the others are to check the capability of tracking and chasing their military movement by the Japanese Self Defense Force and the U.S. Forces in Japan.  


5.  Russia To Sell Japan’s Equity Of Sakhalin 2


Although Japan banned importing Russian oil and some other products as sanctions against the Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it continues to import Russian LNG out of the Sakhalin 2 project where Japan heavily invested to develop and produce the gas.   

Around 9% of Japan’s imports of LNG come from this project. Two Japanese trading houses, Mitsui and Mitsubishi invested 12.5% and 10% individually from scratch to secure Japan’s long-term energy stability.  

However, Mr. Dmitry Medvedev Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of Russia, and former President of Russia tweeted recently that the Russian government might seek for eliminating Japan out of the Sakhalin project by selling off the shares to nations friendly to Russia. Japan depends around 10% of its LNG imports on the United States, and originally, Japan had expected to increase the volume of imports of LNG from the US.  

However, Free Port in Texas which is a major American LNG export base have been suspending operation due to a fire accident and it is not expected to resume the operation until October.  


If Japan needs to acquire LNG on a spot market, its cost is 2.5 time higher than it long-term contract. The weakening yen had already been pushing up import cost in general, but this LNG issue might further increase Japan’s energy cost for industries and consumers.



Have a wonderful weekend!