1.    COVID-19 Updates In Japan


l    The number of new cases is rapidly increasing and we haven’t seen the peak of the 7th wave yet.  Most of the 47 prefectures including Tokyo are renewing the record of the highest number of new cases a day. At this moment, none of local governments or the central government except Okinawa mentioned any plan to restrict people’s activity or suggest self-control as well as any border controls. 

l      Omicron’s BA5 strain that has the highest transmissibility ever accounts for 96% of the infections. 


<As of 8 pm of July 21> 

The cumulative number of infected and dead in Japan are 10,816,852 and 31,763 respectively.  The number of new cases and death in the nation for the day was 186,246 and 16.  82.0% of the population have finished the first dose of the vaccine, while 80.9% have done for the 2nd and 62.4% 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 20, 5,975,813 people received the 4th vaccination.


2.  Ruling LDP and PM Kishida Enjoy High Approval Ratings 


The general election of the half of the members of the House of Councilors was held on July 10 and the ruling coalition parties of LDP and New Komei stretched their majority share, while the leading opposition party, namely CDPJ lost its share substantially.  Japan Restoration Party sharply increased its share competing with CDJP for the leading opposition party position. According to NHK’s monthly survey that was conducted on July 16 through 18, 59% of the respondents approved the Kishida Cabinet, which is a 5 points increase from the previous one just prior to the upper house election, while 21% disapproved it, which is a 6 points decrease.   


Other major findings are as follows:    


How would you assess the result of the Upper House election? 

Ruling parties should have gained more seats 9%   

Opposition parties should have increased the share 42%     

Just a good balance  38%


What do you think the Kishida Administration’s top priorities after the election?

Economy 38%  Social insurance 16%           

Diplomacy/national security 14%             

Pandemic 9%  

Energy & Environment 9%         

Constitutional Amendment 6%


Do you think the assassination of former PM Abe caused an impact over the election results?

            Yes 12%           No 58%            Early vote before the incident 25%  


What do you think of the government decision of organizing a state funeral for former PM Shinzo Abe? 

Approve 49%          Disapprove 38%               


LDP, New Komei, Japan Restoration and National Democratic Party together exceeded the Super Majority (two thirds of the upper house seats) this time, which would allow them to make a motion for a Constitutional Amendment.  Do you think they should proceed with the motion?  

Yes 45%           No 13%            Difficult to answer 33%


Which party do you approve most?

LDP                               38.4%

CDPJ                              5.3

      New Komei                      4.4

Japan Restoration          6.5

Communist                     3.0     


3. Kishida Administration Defines 20 Fields To Specify Core Technology For Economic Security  


According to Yomiuri, the Kishida Administration drafted a basic guideline with regard to “Specific Core Technologies” that Japan should indigenously research, develop, retain and protect in order to strengthen Japan’s economic security.  The draft states the following 7 categories/20 fields of technologies to be studied by experts and related government organs to come up with a shortlist of “Specific Core Technologies”:  


Transportation: Hypersonic speed, Transportation

Computer:        AI and machine learning, Advanced computing, Microprocessor and semiconductor, Quantum information science

Human body:    Medical and public health including genome,   Brain-computer interface  

Domain:           Space related, Ocean related

Engineering and material:         Biology, Advanced engineering and manufacturing, Robotics, Advanced material science

Network:          Advanced surveillance, positioning and sensing, Data science/analysis/accumulation and operation, High-level information communication network, Cyber-security

Energy:            Advanced energy and stored energy, Chemical/biological/radiational material and atomic


4.  Young Digital Learners Wanted 


DX (Digital Transformation) is a buzzword in Japan now, but there is a huge gap in Japan between the demand of DX and human resources that implement DX, Yomiuri reported. According to METI’s worst case scenario, 790,000 IT related skilled workers will have been in short by the year 2030.  A group of CEOs of IT companies recently founded a technical college in Tokushima Pref. to provide junior high school graduates with free education including IT related skill.  There are 51 national and 6 private technical colleges in Japan. In order to fill the gap of IT skilled workers, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology allocated 62.5 billion yen to boost the quality of education at these technical colleges to keep up with the surging demand of high-level IT engineers.   


5. Mr. Kuroda Denied Possibility Of Raising Interest Rate  


Mr. Haruhiko Kuroda, Governor of Bank Of Japan stated yesterday at a press conference that he would continue the present quantitative easing policy despite the fact that other advanced economies like the United States and EU’s central banks have been their official rates.  So, the present short-term rate (-0.1%) and long-term (0%) stay for the time being. He cited a relatively low inflation (2.1% as of May) as a clear difference of the Japanese economy from others, and raising its policy rate a bit would not be any effective countermeasure against the current situation of yen depreciation.  According to Ministry of Finance’s trade statistics of the first half (Jan – June) of 2022, which was announced yesterday, the total amount of Japan’s trade deficit was 7,924.1 billion yen ($57.4 billion), which is largest ever since the collection of the statistics started.  

The weakening yen is enlarging the cost of imports together with energy price increases, which is caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.   


6. American UAVs To Be Deployed At The Kanoya Naval Base  


NHK reported last night that eight Unmanned Aerial Vehicles that can continue surveillance mission for 30 hours without refueling would be deployed at Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force’s Kanoya Air Base, which is located in a south edge of Kagoshima Pref. It is a very first time for Japanese Self Defense Force to accept an American military operation inside its base. This move is to respond the recent aggressive and coordinated presence of Chinese and Russian military vessels around Japan, NHK reported.



Have a wonderful weekend!