l Although the number of people infected by the virus and the positive ratio as well as the effective reproduction number had been declining since the middle of April, the expert committee recently concluded that considering the available capacity of the hospitals and medical resources, the speed of the declinations is not fast enough to lift the State of Emergency Declaration that was made on April 7 for a period of a month. Therefore, PM Abe announced on May 4 that the emergency status would be extended until the end of May. He, however, added that the government would hold a meeting on May 14 to review then available data, and depending on the result, it may lift the State of Emergency without waiting through the end of the month.
l The extended state of emergency provided two categories, one called specially watched regions namely 13 prefectures (Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba, Ibaragi, Hokkaido, Ishikawa, Aichi, Gifu, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo and Fukuoka) and the other. The latter 34 prefectures’ governors have their own discretion to reopen certain industries and schools gradually, and most of them have been doing so by now.
l On May 7, the Ministry of Welfare and Labor approved Remdesivir, which was developed and produced by Gilead Sciences in the U.S. The approval was granted three days after Gilead Sciences Japan made application. The ministry, considering the approval of the drip medicine in the United States, took the Special Approval process instead of the regular clinical test process requiring a year or more for an approval. Reportedly, the ministry is requesting that this drip medicine shall be applied to COVID-19 infected patients who are in a serious condition.
l The supplemental budget was approved by the Diet on April 40. Some municipal governments are now paying 100,000 yen to each individual resident in need first without waiting for the central government’s distribution of the supplemental budget. Meanwhile, owners of restaurants, retailers and SME are longing for grants and loans to be trickled down to local banks from the government.
l Since the remedy is not sufficient for those who have to pay rent and lease expense of offices and shops for months to come without much revenue, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party is planning to request the government to pay two thirds of such rent and lease expense for six months to come. Besides, the 2nd supplemental budget is currently discussed at the Diet to keep the economy rolling and the jobs secured.
Yomiuri conducted this year’s national survey from March 10 through April 20 with regard to the issues related to the Constitution, and published the findings on the Constitution Memorial Day (May 3).
Some of the key findings are as follows (figures in the parentheses are 2019’s results):
l Share of the respondents who are interested in the arguments of amending the Constitution 61% (64%)
l Do you prefer amending the Constitution? Yes 49%(50%) No 48% (46%)
l Which topics of the amendment are you interested in most?
Ø Article 9 (Renunciation of war) and Self Defense Force 51% (60%)
Ø Emergency response 38% (22%)
Ø Environmental issues 38% (26%)
l Do you agree to LDP’s idea to define the Self Defense Force in Article 9? Yes 52% (47%) No 43% (46%)
l Do you approve the series of National Security related laws that enabled Japan to exercise collective defense rights?
Yes 46% (38% when the laws were passed in 2016) No 50%
l Do you think the laws contribute to strengthening the Japan-U.S. security tie?
Yes 53% No 43%
l Do you think Japan should acquire hostile missile site attack capability in order to be well prepared for the situation where Japan is under an imminent threat of missile attack?
Yes 51% No 44%
l Do you agree to revise the Imperial Household Law to allow matrilineal emperor of Japan - emperor (either male or female) whose mother is (was) a member of the Imperial family but whose father is (was) not?
Yes 67% No 8% Difficult to answer 24%
l Do you agree to amend the Constitution to explicitly recognize same-sex marriage?
Yes 57% No 39%
The government of Japan included in the supplement budget funding to research the chronology of the infection of the cruise ship “Diamond Princess”, which harbored in Yokohama on February 3, and stayed there for around a month until all the passengers and crew members disembarked on March 1, leaving 712 people infected and 13 dead by COVID-19, Yomiuri reported.
The government will entrust a private research institution to conduct interview to most of the people and parties involved in this group infection.
In the particular case of Diamond Princess, the nationality of the ship is the U.K., while the nationality of the operator (cruise company) is the U.S. and the number of the nationalities of the passengers and crew members counts 56.
Since there is no international rule or practices to define the share of roles and responsibility with regard to quarantine and countermeasure procedures to stop spreading the infection, the Japanese government will present the research results and its subsequent proposal to the International Maritime Organization and to WHO as a sort of draft of an international rule.
Newly amended Foreign Exchange and Foreign Control Trade Law became effective on May 8.
The law requires foreign investors to make a report to the Ministry of Finance in advance if its investment would result in a stock share of 1% or more of a Japanese company in the 12 critical technology fields. The fields include nuclear power, aerospace, power and so forth.
Yomiuri reported that the G7 Finance Ministers’ meeting of April 30 discussed as a potential post-Corona risk that Chinese investors buy companies in the critical industries of the G7 nations cheap during the time they are disrupted by COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the Japanese government has been providing a tax incentive effective only for FY2020 and 2021 to encourage companies and individual investors to invest in Japanese startups.
These two policies were originally implemented before the COVID-19 outbreak.
How they function amid the virus disruption is yet to be seen.
Please continue to take good care of you and have a safe weekend!