l The nationwide State of Emergency that was declared on April 7 has been cleared for most of prefectures by now except for Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba and Hokkaido where the number of newly infected people per week per 100,000 population is still high (0.6 for Tokyo and 0.99 for Kanagawa).
l The national high school baseball championship in summer is one of the most popular sport events in Japan. It was, however, announced by Japan High School Baseball Federation on May 20 that the 102nd summer championship will be cancelled due to the concern of the COVID-19.
l Japan National Tourist Organization announced on May 20 that mere 2,900 foreigners visited Japan in April, which is the smallest number ever since the government started to collect the data in 1964, and a 99.9% decrease from the same month last year. It was easily anticipated considering the fact that Japan had banned entry from 100 countries where the infection had been severe, but the data is still a shocking one to the tourism industries here.
l The Cabinet Office announced on May 18 that Japan’s first quarter GDP (Jan-March 2020) declined by 3.4% from the previous quarter in real term on an annual basis. This is the 2nd consecutive quarter in row that declined from its previous quarter. Considering the ongoing negative economic impact coming from the state of emergency in April and May, the 2nd quarter (Apr-Jun) is expected to further decline from the 1st quarter.
l Soft Bank Group headed by Mr. Masayoshi Son announced on May 18 that the bottom line of the group for its fiscal 2019 ending March 31, 2020 turned a 961.5 billion yen (appr. $9 billion) loss from the 14.111 billion yen (appr.$13.2 billion) profit in the previous fiscal year due mostly to the devaluation of its investment portfolio. The group owns a largest share of WeWork, Uber, Alibaba and some other major multinational brands, some of which have been heavily hit by the restrictions to the world economic activity due to the COVID-19.
According to Yomiuri’s survey, which was conducted on May 8 through 10, 58% of the respondents disapproved the way the Abe Administration had been handling the COVID-19 crisis in Japan.
The disapproval rate jumped from 39% at the previous survey of March 20 through 22.
In the meantime, 60% approved the administration’s decision to pay 100,000 yen to all the individuals resident in Japan.
Also, 81% approved the government decision to extend the period of the state of emergency until the end of this month.
Abe Cabinet’s approval rating remains unchanged at 42% in comparison with the last month (April 11 through 12), while its disapproval rating went up from 47% to 48%.
LDP leads party approval ratings at 34%, followed by New Komei (4%), CDPJ (4%), and Japan Restoration Party (4%).
44% responded as independent.
The survey, for the first time, asked about a possible change of school year from the current April – March to September – August, which has been argued in conjunction with the situation of most of the schools being interrupted by the virus spread.
54% of the respondents said they would agree for the change.
Lastly, 81% said that they would continue the lifestyle to prevent from getting infected by keeping social distancing etc.
Yomiuri reported on May 16 that the government of Japan and of the United States reached a consensus to launch a working level dialogue between the two with regard to economic security.
Their area of concern is how to ensure correct supervision of mutual leading edge technology that has potential for military use and of safe and secured implementation of the 5G communication networks.
In this April, the Japanese government established a new section called Economic Section at the National Security Agency of the Cabinet Office, and assigned Mr. Toshihiko Fujii, Cabinet Counselor as Section Chief.
He will serve as chairman for the Japanese working level team including representatives from MoFA, METI, MEXT and Cabinet Office etc.
U.S. working level team will consist of representatives from NSC, NEC, DoS, DoD, DoC and so forth.
Common goal is to prevent mutual high tech from being drained to other nations, by (1) strengthening mutual monitoring mechanism of foreign inbound investment and of export controls, (2) reviewing the potential risk of foreign students at universities and research institutions, and (3) ensuring safe and secure 5G communication networks.
Japan Self Defense Force’s first space squadron by the name of Space Operation Squadron was inaugurated on May 18 at Air Self Defense Force’s Fuchu Air Base.
Its main missions are monitoring other nations’ satellites activity and space debris that might cause a collision against active satellites in orbits.
The squadron will deploy a ground based monitoring radar in Yamaguchi Prefecture in 2023, followed by a space surveillance satellite to be launched by 2026.
The new organization will be staffed by around 100 officers.
Please continue to take good care of you and have a safe weekend!