1. COVID-19 Updates In Japan
l The number of new cases stays at around 40,000 a day and no further declination trend has been observed.
l As announced earlier, the Kishida Administration lifted most of its border restrictions on October 11. There is no limit of the number of foreign visitors’ entry. Foreign individual tourists are now allowed to visit Japan (in the past, only groups tours organized by authorized tour agencies were permitted). No PCR test at the airport is required. And the short-stay visa requirement was eliminated for 68 countries and regions.
l In order to help the Covid-19 torn domestic tourism industries revive, the administration started a campaign to promote domestic trips by providing coupons that can be redeemed to share a maximum 40% of transportation and lodging cost.
l Another campaign was launched for the entertainment industries by providing similar coupons to reduce admission ticket’s fee of movies, sport events and so forth by 20% or 2,000 yen whichever smaller.
<As of 8 pm of October 13>
The cumulative number of infected and dead in Japan are 21,692,838 and 45,793 respectively. The number of new cases and death in the nation for the day was 45,652 and 70. 81.5% of the population have finished the first dose of the vaccine, while 80.4% have done for the 2nd and 65.6% for the 3rd.
2. Kishida Marks Bitter First Anniversary
PM Kishida took office a year ago, October 4, 2021. NHK conducted its monthly survey right after the anniversary of Kishida’s inauguration, which revealed that his approval rating continues to decline to 38% from 40% a month ago while his disapproval rating went up to 43% from 40%.
This is the 3rd consecutive month of declination of his approval ratings, and the very first time his disapproval rating surpasses the other. The monthly survey also questioned annual performance review of the Kishida Cabinet, and 3% highly appreciated and 36% replied “good to some extent” while 41% didn’t appreciate much and 15% said “not good at all”.
In this June and July, his approval ratings were both 59% the highest ever since his cabinet started, but Kishida’s unilateral decision to conduct the state funeral for former PM Shinzo Abe without going through the Diet and a series of media reports about long-lasting invisible relationship between LDP members including the cabinet members and Unification Church rapidly took away his political capital, which had been built up high right after the triumph of the Upper House election in July.
Apart from those incidents, the public might have lost their patience to hear Kishida’s words for change. Kishida emphasized his political style as a good listener and his priority for “New Capitalism” meaning to boost up salaries to stimulate the economy bottom-up. Although he did succeed in influencing the major industries and SME associations to raise salaries, the global wave of inflation really sucked up those salary raises.
Now that almost all the commodity prices as well as utility cost are rising due not only to the global supply chain issues but also to the weakening yen, the Bank of Japan recently intervened in the foreign exchange market selling off more than $20 billion from its reserve.
Kishida has some confidence in diplomacy and may try to become more visible with foreign dignitaries through G20, APEC and G7 that he will chair next year. For the Japanese public, the economy matters most at this moment, so how his administration’s recent policy to stimulate domestic tourism and to encourage foreign individual visits to Japan would work is yet to be seen.
3. Japan To Lead International Framework Of Emission Reduction Trading At COP27
Japan introduced its own Joint Crediting Mechanism (JCM) in 2013 to contribute to developing countries’ emission reduction effort, and has applied the mechanism to 22 nations from Asia, Africa and Latin America since then, resulting so far in more than 200 projects such as renewable energy power plants introduction to the regions. This mechanism that developed countries provide developing countries with GHG reduction technology and finance is such that the technology/finance providers, in return, get entitled to receiving emission reduction credit and it was adopted as Article 6 of the Paris Agreement at COP21 in 2015.
The Japanese government is now promoting to make its own JCM as a sort of foundation of an international framework of emission credit mechanism, Yomiuri reported this week. The government names the framework as Paris Agreement’s Article 6 Implementation Partnership, and is planning to launch the partnership at this year’s COP27 in Egypt aiming at over 100 nations’ participation.
The Japanese government held its preparatory meeting last month in Kanagawa Pref., where 19 countries including UK, Germany and India and 14 international institutions like World Bank and UNDP attended.
4. Drain Sludge To Be Reused As Fertilizer
Confronting the surge of imported fertilizer prices, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation will request budget for fiscal 2023 to study and promote more use of drain sludge as a resource to domestically produce fertilizer for Japanese farmers, Yomiuri reported on its front page on October 9.
There are around 2.3 million tons of drain sludge left in Japan every year, while only 10% of it is reused as fertilizer after going through dehydration and fermentation processes.
It seems that Japanese farmers have some misperceptions of drain sludge such as contaminated by the concentration of heavy metal ingredients such as cadmium and mercury.
So, the ministry will analyze the ingredients of the drain sludge based fertilizer in detail and widely share the results with farmers to eliminate their concerns, while promoting the use of the domestic fertilizer for not only the cost advantage but also the fertilizer’s unique affluence of nitrogen and phosphoric acid that well nurture crops.
City of Saga in Saga Pref. has been selling drain sludge based fertilizer at 2 yen per kg, and the city is now observing triple sale of it since this June in comparison with the same time last year.
Have a wonderful weekend!