1.    COVID-19 Updates In Japan


l      It seems the 7th wave is rapidly cooling down with the numbers of new cases declining below 150,000 a day.

l     The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare announced on August 30 that it would allow people in Japan to receive the vaccine that is specifically developed against the Omicron variant as early as this month. Both Pfizer and Moderna had applied to the ministry for the anti-Omicron vaccine waiting for approval. Those who have finished the vaccination two times are eligible for this new vaccination regardless of age.

l    PM Kishida announced on August 31 that his administration would ease the border control to increase the upper limit of daily number of entries to Japan from 20,000 to 50,000.  Simultaneously, the condition that foreign tourists had to be accompanied by eligible tour conductors was lifted.   


<As of 8 pm of September 1st> 

The cumulative number of infected and dead in Japan are 19,125,599 and 40,261 respectively. The number of new cases and death in the nation for the day was 150,224 and 306. 81.4% of the population have finished the first dose of the vaccine, while 80.4% have done for the 2ndand 64.7% for the 3rd.  


2.  MoFA To Strategically Shift ODA Resources For FOAP


Yomiuri reported that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs solidified a policy to increase its fiscal 2023 budget request by 105.7 billion yen and allocate 110 billion yen out of its ODA budget specifically for its Free and Open Indo-Pacific vision. Concretely, the specially assigned budget for FOAP shall be spent for infrastructure such as port and airport constructions and human development for coast guards in the ASEAN nations and the Pacific Islanders.  


Also, MoFA is trying to strengthen its diplomatic presence in Africa. Originally, Japan’s ambassador of Kennya concurrently assumed the role of the ambassador in Seychelles, which faces the Indian Ocean. Learning that China is considering having military presence in Seychelles, the MoFA will request budget to assign an independent ambassador in the country to monitor Chinese activity there.


3. Israeli Defense Minister’s Visit To Japan


Commemorating the 70th anniversary of establishing the Japan-Israel diplomatic relationship, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gants visited Japan this week and met with Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada, and with Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi on August 30.  The two defense ministers agreed to add in the MoU for mutual defense exchanges of 2011 defense equipment and technologies as new exchange fields. Defense Minister Hamada stressed at a press conference that the Japanese defense ministry would further propel defense collaboration and exchanges with Israel. At a Yomiuri’s exclusive interview, Israeli Defense Minister Gants mentioned high power laser based missile defense system, early warning system, and cyber defense and reconnaissance as potential area of collaboration with Japan.


4.  Mr. Kazuo Inamori Missed


Mr. Kazuo Inamori, Founder of Kyocera Corporation and of KDDI, which is Japan’s 2nd largest communication service provider after NTT passed away on August 24. At a strong solicitation from then PM Hatoyama of DPJ, he assumed the chairman’s position of Japan Airlines in 2010 just after when the airline went to bankruptcy and filed for application of the Corporate Reorganization Law. Mr. Inamori revived the airline in a V-shape way through enlightening and mentoring the management team to create and share corporate philosophy and hands-on coaching of his invented ameba management method, which is a small team based management style to optimise individual motivation and innovative leadership. He entered the Buddhist priesthood in 1997 and promoted the Buddhist’s spirit of altruistic mind by volunteering in helping Japanese Buddhist communities as well as business leaders of startups and ailing SME.  


In fact, he helped JAL’s revival without pay, yet poured his remaining life and energy without hesitation. He also helped young people with unique aspirations including politics, science, engineering, community support, peace and so forth by sponsoring awards and coaching networks. Naturally, his loss saddened so many Japanese, who went into mourn. Surprisingly, so many of Chinese people as well as the government of China announced their condolences representing their respect and regard of late Mr. Inamori and his philosophy as well as teachings. He is recognized in China as one of Japan’s 4 wisemen of business management after Konosuke Matsushita (Panasonic), Soichiro Honda (Honda), and Akio Morita (Sony).


5. Hydrogen Transportation Network To Be Established


Yomiuri reported on August 30 that the Japanese government solidified a policy to include in its Ocean Basic Plan to be revised next year establishing hydrogen transportation network. Presently, it costs 170 yen to procure 1 cubic meter of hydrogen in Japan, but the government is aiming at reducing the cost to 30 yen by the year 2030.  In order to achieve this goal, scale merit needs to be explored by increasing the capacity of liquefied hydrogen transport vessels as well as the ability of hydrogen loading arm systems and other loading/unloading systems, and the size of liquefied hydrogen storage tanks on the shore.  


In February this year, a private industry group called HySTRA including Kawasaki Heavy Industry and Iwatani Corporation demonstrated a feasibility of hydrogen supply chain by transporting liquefied hydrogen, which was generated in Australia by a liquefied hydrogen tanker with the capacity of 1,250 cubic meter to the Kobe port, where a loading arm system was in place to unload the liquefied hydrogen and the hydrogen was stored in a liquefied hydrogen storage tank with the capacity of 2,500 cubic meter. The government plan is to enlarge the capacity of all those components of liquefied hydrogen supply chain. Also, make more ports available to receive liquefied hydrogen transport vessels by closely collaborating with local governments that control port authorities.