1. COVID-19 Updates: Annual Number Of Newly Born Babies Would Decline Below 800,000
Ministry of Health, Welfare and Labor announced on the 20th the number of babies who were born between January 1st and October 31st as 669,871, which is a 4.8% smaller than the same period last year. This would make for sure the annual number of newly born babies for 2022 would go below 800,000 for the first time since the beginning of national demographic data collection. Apart from the historical declining trend of the number of newly born babies, the pandemic caused significant impact over young people’s decision of getting married and having babies, the media reports.
<COVID-19 Infection in Japan as of 7 pm of December 22nd>
The cumulative number of infected and dead in Japan are 27,800,850 and 54,729 respectively. The number of new cases and death in the nation for the day was 183,883 and 297. 81.4% of the population have finished the first dose of the vaccine, while 80.4% have done for the 2nd and 67.5% for the 3rd.
2. New National Security Strategies Rapidly Set With Imminent Regional Security Issues
As alerted in the last Japan Digest, the government of Japan, on the 16th, made and released the three national security documents, namely National Security Strategy, National Defense Strategy and Defense Buildup Plan concluded by the Cabinet. Key points of the individual documents are as follows:
Ø Stipulated China as “Largest strategic challenge ever before”
Ø Stipulated possessing counterattack capability against enemy missile sites for the first time ever
Ø Keep increasing defense spending to reach the level of a 2% of GDP in fiscal 2027
Ø Promote Inter-ministry and agency collaboration to work on R&D, building dual-use infrastructures, cyber security and international cooperation
Ø Introduce “proactive cyber defense” to prevent serious cyber attacks
Ø Promote defense equipment exports with government-industry collaboration
Ø Establish a permanent joint command in the Self Defense Force
Ø Change the Air Self Defense Force to the Aerospace Defense Force.
43 trillion yen shall be allocated for defense spending for the five years from JFY2023 through 2027. It is around 1.6 times more than the present five year defense buildup plan.
For the sake of the counterattack capability, the Ministry of Defense shall procure U.S. Tomahawk missiles as well as domestic long range stand-off missiles.
3. Ports And Airports Near Senkaku And Taiwan Strait To Be Modified To Accept Fighters And Destroyers
As a part of the new National Defense Strategy that the Kishida Cabinet approved on the 16th, the Kishida Administration will make key social infrastructures near the Senkaku Archipelagos and the Taiwan Strait dual use for both civilians and defense forces.
For example, the local airport of Yonakuni, Ishigaki and Miyako will be renovated by extending and strengthening their individual runways so that F35 fighters will be able to take off and land. Also, a new berthing facilities will be built at the Yonakuni port so that the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force's destroyers and Japanese Coast Guard's large patrol boats will be able to dock.
4. Japan-US Joint Survey Finds Russia As Highest Threat
Yomiuri and U.S. Gallup conducted a Japan-U.S. joint survey in November.
Following are key findings out of the public opinions of the two nations:
Japan United States
Which nation’s military force is your most threat? Russia 82% Russia 79%
DPRK 82% China 77%
China 81% DPRK 70%
If China invades Taiwan militarily, do you think Yes 72% Yes 48%
the U.S. forces should defend Taiwan? No 45%
Do you think U.S. should strengthen miliary aid for Ukraine? Yes 59% Yes 55%
Do you agree Japan to strengthen its defense forces? Yes 68% Yes 65%
No 27% No 27%
Ho do you assess Japan-U.S. relationship? Good 58% Good 51%
Bad 21% Bad 11%
5. Japanese Coast Guard To Be Strengthened
With China’s building up visible presence near the Senkaku Archipelagos, PM Kishida called a cabinet meeting on the 16th and decided on the policy to strengthen Japan’s coast guard capability in the following six fields:
Ø Territorial waters guard around the Senkaku Archipelagos
Ø Oceanic surveillance by UAVs etc.
Ø Response to large scale and significant events like terror and disasters breaking up simultaneously
Ø Collaborations with Self Defense Forces and other domestic and foreign related organizations
Ø Oceanic research to secure Japan’s interest in the ocean
Ø Strengthening daily work environments including cyber-countermeasures etc.
Concretely, the cabinet agreed to add up JCG’s budget by 100 billion yen to 320 billion yen by JFY2027 to acquire 4 more new large patrol boats and remotely piloted UAVs.
6. Japan-U.S. Next Generation Fast Reactor To Be Postponed By 2 Years
Terra Power, an American technology company announced on the 15th that its next generation fast reactor development project would be delayed by two years due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. With the U.S. government support, Terra Power was to begin building a demonstration reactor in Wyoming State in 2024. Japan Atomic Energy Agency and Mitsubishi Heavy Industry reached an agreement with the company in January this year to technically collaborate for this development project.
According to the U.S. media, this next generation fast reactor requires relatively high density uranium fuel, and so far that grade of fuel can be supplied only by Russian companies. Terra Power now expects to wait for U.S. domestic supply source to come up with the production capacity that is required to meet this project, but it might take extra two years at minimum, the company’s CEO explained. Originally, Terra Power aimed at starting the reactor operation in 2028.
Thank you so much for reading Japan Digests this year.
I sincerely wish you all the best and a happy 2023!
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