1. COVID-19 Updates In Japan
l The 7th wave continues to recede and the numbers of new cases is declining below 100,000 a day.
l Although the government has loosened the border control to increase the number of foreign visitors from 20,000 a day to 50,000 and we have begun to observe more and more foreign tourist coming back to Japan, Yomiuri reported this morning that PM Kishida would soon announce to lift the remaining control next month including visa requirements for short stay for the countries like the United States.
l The Ministry of Finance announced on the 15th that Japan’s trade deficit for the month of August was 2.817 trillion yen, which is the largest ever since 1979 when comparable statistics data collection began. Import cost of coal, LNG, petroleum and grain soared in August due to the sharp depreciation of yen in comparison with the previous month.
<As of 8 pm of September 15>
The cumulative number of infected and dead in Japan are 20,509,921 and 43,395 respectively. The number of new cases and death in the nation for the day was 85,367 and 171. 81.5% of the population have finished the first dose of the vaccine, while 80.4% have done for the 2nd and 65.1% for the 3rd. Around 32 million people finished the 4th dose.
2. Kishida Continues To Lose Approval Ratings
According to NHK’s monthly survey that was conducted on September 9 through 11, 40% of the respondents approved the Kishida Cabinet, which is a 6 points decrease from the previous month, while 40% disapproved it, which is a 12 points increase from August. Other major findings are as follows:
How would you assess the newly reshuffled cabinet?
Fairly good 2%
Good to some extent 32%
Not much 40%
Not at all 16%
How do you assess the government’s response to the pandemic till now?
Fairly good 5%
Good to some extent 53%
Not much 28%
Not at all 9%
How do you assess the government’s decision to conduct a state funeral for former PM Shinzo Abe?
Not agree 57%
Do you think PM Kishida’s response to the issue of Family Federation for World Peace and Unification including LDP’s investigation of relationship between its Diet members and the federation is sufficient?
No answer 10%
How do you expect the Japan-China relationship that marks the 50th anniversary of the diplomatic normalization year to be from now on?
To be strengthened 11%
To be cautious against further strengthening the relationship 55%
Just in-between 28%
3. Denny Tamaki Reelected As Okinawa Governor
On the 11th of this month, the incumbent governor of Okinawa Mr. Denny Tamaki overwhelmingly defeated Mr. Jun Sakima, who was the unified candidate of the ruling LDP and New Komei Party for the Okinawa gubernatorial election. Governor Tamaki is against the central government decision to move the U.S. Marine’s Futenma Air Station to the Henoko’s reclaimed land site. It is the third consecutive win of candidate who is against the military base move to Henoko and demanding its move outside Okinawa or Japan.
On the same day, Ginowan City’s mayoral election was conducted and the incumbent mayor Masanori Matsukawa, who is supported by LDP and New Komei was reelected over Mr. Harumasa Nakanishi who is supported by most of the opposition parties. Ginowan City hosts the Futenma Air Station and Mayor Matsukawa has been promoting the transfer of the airbase to the Henoko site.
4. Yen Weakening Continues And Inflation Being Felt
On September 13, Bank of Japan announced Corporate Goods Price Index of August as 115.1 (100=an average index for 2020), which is a 9.0% up from the previous month, and it is the 18th consecutive month of increase from previous month. Among others, imported items’ prices increased by 42.5%, while utility cost went up by 33.4%, minerals by 26.6% and steel by 26.1%. Since corporate goods prices tend to be trickled down to consumer prices and since depreciation of yen continues in September, inflation is going to be felt further in Japan.
5. Israeli And American Attack Drones To Be Tested For Japan’s Islands Defense
Yomiuri reported on the top page of its September 14 issue that the Ministry of Defense is coordinating to purchase Israeli attack drone called Harop and American one called Switch Blade in Japan Fiscal 2023. It is a test purchase for evaluation. The two foreign drones as well as domestic ones will undergo various performance and operational tests so that several hundreds of attack drones will begin to be deployed mostly on the South West islands in a full scale in JFY2025. The Japanese Self Defense Force currently operates Global Hawk, American large reconnaissance drone and Scan Eagle, also American small scout plane but no attack drone.
The central government is going to revise its national security strategy in this December to articulate the necessity of counterattack capability etc. judging from the latest regional security environment. Possessing attack drones is also part of the revision of the strategy to cope with the advancement of Chinese military near the South West Islands region.