The Weekly Observer: May 10-14

I. News of the Week


Useful COVID-19 Resources (most are updated daily):

1. Government Declares State of Emergency in Three More Prefectures

  • At a press conference on Friday, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared a state of emergency starting May 16 in Hokkaido, Okayama and Hiroshima. Since the beginning of the month, all three prefectures have seen a surge in daily cases.

  • In particular, Hokkaido topped a record-high of 700 cases on Thursday, the third most in the country behind Tokyo and Osaka. The nation’s total reached 7,000 cases, with people with severe symptoms also at a record high of 1,200

  • Suga also announced that Gunma, Ishikawa and Kumamoto would join the list of prefectures under pre-emergency measures (man-en bōshi-tō jūten sochi). These measures will remain in place between May 16-June 13

  • The government on Thursday planned to include Hiroshima and Okayama under the pre-emergency measures along with the three other prefectures. However, a day later, it reversed course after receiving strong pushback from the expert panel, whose members believe stronger messaging is necessary to reduce daily case tallies.

  • Suga said he believes targeted measures are better than a nationwide state of emergency. On Wednesday, Yasutoshi Nishimura, minister in charge of economic revitalization, also shared his reluctance to declare a nationwide state of emergency. This comes on the heels of the National Governors’ Association requesting such stronger measures to respond to a surge in variant cases across the country. 

  • Jun Azumi, the main opposition CDP’s Diet Affairs Chairman, said Friday that trust in the government will crumble if the government continues to lack a coherent strategy and add new prefectures to be put under stronger measures every week. 

2. Concerns Over Variant Strains Grow

  • The government said Thursday it plans to strengthen nationwide monitoring of the Indian strain through genome analysis and other means. Health minister Norihisa Tamura said Wednesday that 70 cases had been detected as of Monday.

  • Japan will also strengthen border measures as of Friday, refusing entry of all foreign residents, regardless of status, who have traveled to India, Pakistan or Nepal within the last two weeks. 

  • The government has come under fire for its lax border measures, with one LDP lawmaker referring to it as “a flood, not a leak.” The government revealed at an LDP meeting Wednesday that up to 300 people a day in April did not report their location to health centers or stay self-isolated after returning home from abroad. 

  • As of Wednesday, 21 prefectures can be placed in the “Stage 4” category, or more than 25 new cases per 100,000 people in the last week. Of those, 7 prefectures are not under a state of emergency or pre-emergency measures.

  • The National Institute of Infectious Diseases also reported that more than 90 percent of cases nationwide are the U.K. variant with a 1.4 times higher rate of inducing severe symptoms. Tokyo announced Tuesday 77 percent of its cases were of this variant. 

3. State of Emergency Measures Cause Confusion

  • Japan formally entered the extended phase of the COVID-19 state of emergency on Wednesday. Aichi and Fukuoka were added to the list of prefectures under a state of emergency last week. 

  • The government said that eateries serving alcohol in the six prefectures will be requested to stay closed. As a general rule, large-scale events can now admit up to half of capacity or 5,000 spectators. Large-scale commercial facilities like shopping malls can now stay open until 8 p.m., although Tokyo and Osaka continue to ask these facilities to remain closed. 

  • Large-scale facilities are allowed to open specific areas selling “necessity goods.” Many facilities in Tokyo have expanded its interpretation to include clothing stores. While theaters can open, cinemas have been requested to remain closed, resulting in a protest Tuesday in front of the Tokyo metropolitan government building. 

  • Signs of disconnect between government and prefectural policies also showed in the handling of the reopening of national cultural facilities in Tokyo. On Tuesday, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Koichi Hagiuda said that the facilities would remain closed

  • While the Agency for Cultural Affairs (Bunkachō), part of the Ministry of  Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, originally planned to open five state-run facilities, Governor Yuriko Koike requested Monday that they remain closed in line with the capital’s state of emergency measures.

4. Vaccine Rollout

  • The government decided Friday it will spend around ¥510 billion ($4.7 billion) from the supplementary budget to purchase vaccines from foreign pharmaceutical companies. Japan has plans to receive 50 million doses by September from Pfizer, 50 million doses in 2022 from Moderna, and 150 million doses in 2022 from Novavax. 

  • Vaccine czar Taro Kono said Thursday that the health ministry will approve the Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines by the end of the month. He also said Wednesday that the approval process should be expedited for crises like these.

  • Kono requested Thursday that the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) consider implementing measures such as having occupational physicians vaccinate employees at a workplace and introducing “vaccine leave.”

  • A Yokohama City University research team presented data Wednesday that shows more than 90 percent of individuals who have been administered two shots of the Pfizer vaccine had antibodies to the U.K., South Africa, Brazil and India strains. 

  • A system glitch caused by Salesforce disrupted online vaccine reservations on Wednesday. At least eleven municipalities were affected, as well as V-SYS, the government’s database tracking dose distribution and inventory across the country.

  • Kobe City announced Wednesday that it will discard 960 doses due to a mistake in leaving the vaccine at room temperature for three hours at a mass vaccination site. If left at room temperature, the vaccine must be diluted within two hours for safe use. 

  • Takara Bio Inc. announced Tuesday that it has developed a PCR testing reagent for the Indian strain, which it plans to begin selling on June 12. Shimadzu became the first company to announce a testing reagent for the India strain last week. 

  • Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi announced Tuesday that the COVAX Vaccine Summit co-hosted by Japan and GAVI will be held online on June 2. Suga and Motegi will attend the summit which will be held to promote fair access to vaccines.

  • Japanese drugmaker Shionogi said Monday that it is expecting to provide the first domestic vaccine if the government approves the vaccine while the company conducts the final stage clinical trial. The company also plans to ramp up its production capability from 10 million doses to 30 million by the end of the year.

  • Last Friday, the Japan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association opposed U.S. support for a temporary waiver of vaccine patent rights held by pharmaceutical companies, arguing that waiving rights would not lead to an increase in supply given know-how, personnel, and ingredients are not available to all. 

5. Government Continues Preparing Mass Vaccination Sites

  • Government data shows that as of Monday, 24 percent of healthcare workers have been vaccinated twice, while less than one percent of elderly citizens have been vaccinated once. The government aims for one million shots per day in order to meet its goal of vaccinating all elderly citizens twice by the end of July. 

  • However, the mass vaccination sites in Tokyo and Osaka are projected to only reach 15,000 shots per day. Of the 1741 municipalities in Japan, around 1490 (86%) expect to complete vaccination of the elderly by the end of July. Suga said Thursday that he was “shocked” some municipalities didn’t expect to finish. 

  • AERA reported Monday that the government will spend around ¥3.7 billion (≈$34 million) from defense funds to gather 200 health care workers and administrative staff for the “SDF-led” mass vaccination sites. The report outlines that a lack of SDF personnel means private sector workers will be heavily involved. 

  • Vaccine reservations for the Tokyo and Osaka sites are set to begin on May 17 online through a special website and messaging app LINE. Citizens over the age of 65 in Tokyo’s 23 districts and Osaka City can reserve between May 24-30; the rest of Tokyo and Osaka between May 31-June 6; the greater Tokyo area, Kyoto and Hyogo starting June 7.  

  • Suga said Thursday that in an effort to improve vaccination speed, the government aims to provide a shuttle service between Tokyo station and the mass vaccination site. There are similar plans being drawn up for the Osaka site. 

  • The Tokyo metropolitan government held a meeting Monday, in which it discussed a lack of health care workers to administer the vaccine and space for mass vaccination sites in the capital. Less than a percent of Tokyo’s elderly residents have been vaccinated, and a third of municipalities in the capital do not expect to complete vaccination of the elderly by the end of July. 

  •  The health ministry requested last Friday that prefectural governments consider setting up their own mass vaccination sites using the Moderna vaccine. 

Foreign & Defense Policy

6. Suga to be Keynote Speaker at the Shangri-La Dialogue in June

  • Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said Tuesday that Suga and Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi will attend the Shangri-La Dialogue hosted by the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore between June 4-5. He will be the first prime minister since Abe, who attended seven years ago, to be there.

  • Suga is expected to be the keynote speaker at the event attended by high-level defense policymakers from more than 40 countries around the world. He is expected to call for a free and open Indo-Pacific and voice his concerns over China’s maritime assertiveness in the East and South China Seas.

  • Kishi and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin are expected to meet on the sidelines of the meeting to discuss pressing issues such as Taiwan and cybersecurity threats. 

7. Japan-U.S. Developments

  • The intelligence chiefs of Japan, the U.S. and South Korea met Wednesday to exchange opinions on trilateral cooperation to achieve denuclearization of North Korea. The U.S. recently completed its North Korea policy review. 

  • Bilaterally, Director of Cabinet Intelligence Hiroaki Takizawa met with Director of the National Intelligence Service (NIS) Park Jie-won on Tuesday, while National Security Secretariat Secretary-General Shigeru Kitamura met with Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines. 

  • The GSDF began a trilateral exercise with the U.S. and France on Tuesday for the first time on Japanese soil to increase cooperation amid growing Chinese assertiveness. 

  • On the same day, the MSDF began the ARC 21 exercise, which focuses on island defense in the East China Sea (with an eye on Taiwan), with the U.S., France and Australia. Both exercises will end on May 17

  • The Financial Times reported Tuesday that former Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel will be appointed U.S. ambassador to Japan this month as part of a bundle of ambassadorship nominations. Japan is expected to welcome the appointment, although there are some concerns over his reputation for bluntness.

8. Suga’s Actions This Week

  • Suga spoke on the phone Thursday with Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, in which the two leaders agreed to strengthen cooperation in various areas. Suga also expressed his intention to support the development of Central Asia. 

  • Suga met Park Jie-won on Wednesday, in which Park delivered President Moon’s message expressing hope to improve bilateral relations. Park also had a phone call with LDP Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai the same day, in which the two agreed the latter would visit South Korea once the pandemic was over. 

  • On Wednesday, Suga spoke on the phone separately with Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev to share his concerns about China’s unilateral attempts at changing the status quo in the East and South China Seas, as well as the human rights situations in Hong Kong and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. 

  • Suga had a 20-minute conversation with Vietnam’s President Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Tuesday, in which he shared concerns about China’s unilateral attempts at changing the status quo in the East and South China Seas. The two also agreed to cooperate along with the rest of ASEAN to improve the situation in Myanmar.

9. Other Policy Developments

  • An LDP project team crafted a proposal Friday, calling on the government to emphasize human rights in foreign policy in light of the situations in Myanmar and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Recommendations include joining the Genocide Convention and implementing a Japanese version of the Magnitsky Act, as well as enhancing ODA in the human rights area. 

  • The government has decided to provide approximately ¥430 million (≈$3.9 million) in grant aid to provide food for Myanmar citizens impacted by the military coup. Japan will also provide an additional ¥2 billion (≈$18.5 million) in grant aid to India for oxygen concentrators and ventilators.

  • The Chinese foreign ministry protested Japan’s draft defense white paper on Friday. It said Japan was interfering with its domestic affairs by including sections discussing the need to closely monitor Chinese activities around Taiwan.

  • Jiji reported Wednesday that the Ministry of Defense is considering deploying two new Aegis-equipped destroyers in place of the axed Aegis Ashore missile defense system without forming a fleet. The plan would cut personnel required to operate a whole fleet, although there are concerns about its self-defense capabilities. 

  • Kyodo reported Sunday that ten Japanese companies have had direct business ties with Myanmar’s military or have been part of projects that could be sources of income for the junta. Kirin, for example, has faced trouble dissolving its partnership with Myanma Economic Holdings, which is owned by senior members of the military. 

  • Last Friday, Foreign Minister Motegi attended the 7th Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Visegrad Group (V4) plus Japan in Poland. Motegi stressed the importance of working with the V4, whose influence is growing within the EU, to counter protectionism and unilateral attempts to change the status quo. 

  • Motegi and his counterparts from Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic also discussed the importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific, the denuclearization of North Korea, and “V4-Plus Japan” cooperation in areas such as connectivity and cybersecurity. 

10. Economic Security

  • The government held a meeting Thursday at the prime minister’s office to draft the framework of a new, three-year “cybersecurity strategy.” In light of alleged cyber attacks from China, Russia and North Korea, Japan will raise the cybersecurity profile within its diplomatic and national security priorities.

  • It also plans to strengthen cybersecurity together with the digital reforms led by the Digital Agency, and to reduce risks across the country as a whole by cooperating with research, academic and private sector institutions critical to the country’s economic infrastructure.

  • Nikkei reported Sunday that private sector experts have put together a proposal to create a research institute for advanced semiconductors to strengthen Japan-U.S. cooperation. The proposal calls for both countries to stop relying on Taiwan for semiconductor supply. 

  • Diversification of supply chains is nothing new. Japanese companies are increasing production in South Korea and Taiwan, with FDI in the chemical and pharmaceutical sectors growing through 2019, particularly in chemicals necessary for semiconductor production.  

Domestic Politics

11. Diet Proceedings

  • The CDP and JCP on Friday left a Lower House Cabinet Committee meeting after the ruling coalition refused to bring in Yoichi Takahashi, special advisor to the cabinet, as a witness. Takahashi came under fire on Monday for a tweet saying it would be a laughing matter if the Olympic Games are canceled due to “‘ripples’ [COVID-19 cases] of this extent.”

  • The Diet on Thursday enacted a package of six digital transformation bills including one to establish a digital agency on September 1. The agency will be the command tower for expanding the use of the My Number system and unifying systems across national and local governments in order to promote online administrative procedures and improve convenience. 

  • The Lower House passed on Wednesday the revised National Referendum Act which stipulates how to conduct the citizen vote to amend the Constitution. The Upper House Commission on the Constitution will begin deliberating the bill on May 19 as the ruling coalition hopes to put it up for a vote by June 9. 

  • The Lower House began deliberations Tuesday on a bill which restricts buying, selling and using land near facilities critical to national security. The government can designate areas around 1 km from important facilities such as SDF bases, nuclear power plants and remote islands near the border as “monitored areas (chūshi kuiki),” and investigate the name and citizenship of landowners.

  • The government can also designate “specially monitored areas (tokubetsu chūshi kuiki),” or areas of particular importance such as SDF headquarters or uninhabited islands near territorial boundaries, where buying and selling land of a specified size will require the landowner to disclose their name and citizenship.

  • The Japan Innovation Party and Democratic People’s Party have requested the bill be adjusted to include provisions for prior reporting to the Diet, asking local municipalities’ opinions before making a decision, and making clear what would constitute a violation of the law subject to government admonishment and orders. 

  • The Lower House passed on Tuesday a bill to restructure the social security system by doubling expenses for those above 75 years of age and an income of over ¥2 million. The government plans to enforce the bill sometime between October 2022 and March 2023. 

12. Opposition Submit Censure Motion Over Immigration Control Act

  • The opposition submitted a censure motion Friday against Hiroyuki Yoshiie, chairman of the Lower House Judicial Affairs Committee, after the government refused to immediately disclose the video footage of the Sri Lankan woman who died while being held in an immigration facility. Yukio Edano, the CDP’s leader, said Tuesday that he aims to kill the legislation.

  • The ruling coalition accepted the opposition’s amendments to pass the bill during this Diet session, but refused disclosure of the footage until the Immigration Bureau completes its final report. The opposition submitted the censure motion today to prevent the ruling coalition’s moves to put it up for a vote.

  • The opposition proposed ten amendments such as deleting provisions that allows for deportation even while an individual applies for refugee status beyond the third time.  

  • The LDP and CDP’s Diet Affairs Chairmen agreed Wednesday to delay voting on the bill after the opposition refused to deliberate the issue, arguing a proper investigation into the death of a Sri Lankan woman in an immigration detention facility was necessary to proceed.

  • The ruling coalition originally submitted the bill in response to a series of cases where foreigners who have been told to leave the country due to overstaying and other reasons refused to leave and were detained for a substantial period of time in immigration facilities. 

13. State of the Economy

  • At a Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy meeting on Friday, Suga stressed his commitment to raise the average minimum wage across the country to ¥1,000 as a means to redress the wage gap caused by the pandemic. 

  • Stocks across Asia continued to fall as a rise in U.S. consumer prices fueled concerns over inflation and a hike in interest rates. The Nikkei Stock Average fell 699 points on Thursday to its lowest level in four months. There are signs the momentum of high-tech stocks will fall as economies slowly return to normal. 

  • Statistics Bureau data released Tuesday showed that Japan’s real consumption expenditure in 2020 dropped 4.9 percent from 2019, the second largest drop since data became available in 2001. COVID-19 has cut back travel and dining out, while it has increased spending on goods and services used at home. 

  • The Japan Business Federation said Monday that Sumitomo Chemical Chairman Masakazu Tokura will replace Hitachi Executive Chairman Hiroaki Nakanishi, who is leaving for health reasons, on June 1. Tokura said the organization will shift from “shareholder primacy” to one that thinks of “society as a whole.” 

  • Shipping companies are doing well due to high demand for goods used at home, as well as a shortage of containers from the pandemic. Nippon Yūsen and Kawasaki Kisen both recorded the highest net profit this year at ¥139.2 billion (4.5 times higher than last year) and ¥108.6 billion (20.6 times higher), respectively. 

  • Data from Tokyo Shōko Research released Monday showed that bankruptcies due to COVID-19 have increased in scale over time. The number of companies going bankrupt with more than a billion yen in debt hit a high of thirty in the April-June period last year (first state of emergency), but the January-March period this year is just as bad, with twenty companies going out of business. 

  • The finance ministry said Monday the balance of debt was a record-high ¥1,216.4 trillion (≈$11.1 trillion), up ¥101.9 trillion from the previous year. Debt has soared largely due to COVID-19 spending and ballooning social security costs.

14. Government and IOC Pushes Forth with Olympic Games

  • Suga said Friday that the government is considering strong penalties such as deportation for participants who violate the coronavirus countermeasures. Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato also stressed that Japan would consider strict measures such as disqualifying athletes who violate the rules.

  • Seiko Hashimoto, president of the organizing committee, said Friday that Japan will reduce the number of visiting officials and media personnel from 180,000 to 90,000. She said this will make it easier to take coronavirus countermeasures.  

  • Olympics Minister Tamayo Marukawa said Friday that 45 municipalities were canceling pre-game camps and exchange activities for foreign athletes due to COVID-19 risk and concern for overwhelmed health care systems. 

  • In 32 of 45 municipalities, foreign countries and regions initiated the process. The U.S. track and field team announced Wednesday that it was cancelling its pre-game camp.

  • Former Tokyo gubernatorial candidate Kenji Utsunomiya submitted Friday a petition calling for the games to be cancelled to Tokyo Governor Koike. The petition has garnered over 350,000 signatures. Koike reiterated her commitment to hosting the games. 

  • In a lunch meeting with former Chiba governor Kensaku Morita on Thursday, Suga reiterated his desire to host the Olympic Games despite soaring COVID-19 numbers. At least four prefectures were forced to cancel or shorten the torch relays this week due to the pandemic. 

  • The National Doctor’s Union submitted a request Thursday to the health ministry which called for the Olympic Games to be cancelled. It argued that allowing foreign athletes and staff into the country would undermine the health care system already under pressure from a surge in domestic COVID-19 cases.

  • An IOC spokesman said Wednesday the IOC would not be “guided by public opinion” and that the games will go ahead as planned. This statement came before the virtual conference was interrupted by an activist protesting the games.  

  • Ibaraki and Chiba’s governors said Wednesday and Thursday that their prefectures would not be allocating “priority” bedspace for athletes despite a request from the government asking them do so.

  • Reports surfaced Wednesday that around 280 certified sports doctors had applied for 200 spots to work as volunteer staff at medical offices during the games. 

  • LDP Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai said Monday during a press conference that Japan would have to make a “careful decision” as to whether it should host the games in the summer. Nikai was forced to retract a similar statement he made on April 15. 

  • CDP leader Edano said Monday that the pandemic has made the Olympics a difficult event to host. He also said it would be “nearly impossible” to host it. 


15. Snap Election Likely to be Called in the Fall

  • Jiji reported Friday that LDP lawmakers are becoming increasingly concerned about hosting the Olympic Games. There are concerns that the games could lead to a further spike in cases and impact the LDP’s electoral prospects.  

  • Some also fear Tokyo Governor Koike could make the Tokyo Assembly election in July a referendum asking voters whether the Olympics should be held or not. 

  • Suga is likely to hold off on calling the snap election given the pandemic and the opposition giving up on a no-confidence vote that would have forced his hand.

  • CDP leader Edano said Monday that he would prioritize the COVID-19 response, closing the door on a no-confidence vote the opposition had flirted with over the past months. It is viewed as an appeal to voters that the party cares more about the people than kicking the LDP out of power during the pandemic. 

  • Good news came for Suga on Tuesday, when LDP Secretary-General Nikai said that his reelection would bring political stability. Nikai’s “endorsement” follows former prime minister Abe’s statement last week backing Suga for another term. 

  • Elsewhere, a cross-party study group of ten female lawmakers held its first meeting on Wednesday to discuss the future implementation of a gender quota. The president of the group, journalist Sōichiro Tahara, aims for a third of Japan’s lawmakers to be women. 

Other Noteworthy News

  • Government Will Not Reinvestigate “Moritomo Issue”: Suga said Thursday that the government will not reinvestigate the 2017 scandal in which it had sold state-owned property to Moritomo Gakuen below the market price. He said the Ministry of Finance and prosecutors had conducted their respective investigations and that a conclusion had already been reached. Finance Minister Taro Aso also stressed Tuesday that there would be no reinvestigation. These statements were made in response to the government acknowledging last week the existence of the “Akagi files,” which chronicled the process the finance ministry had used to falsify documents. 

  • SoftBank Reports Highest-Ever Annual Profit for Japanese Company: SoftBank Group reported Wednesday that it is set for a Japanese record-high net profit of over ¥4.98 trillion (≈$46 billion) in FY 2020, becoming the world’s third most profitable company, after Apple and Saudi Aramco. The Vision Fund, its main investment vehicle, has performed well after DoorDash and other holdings went public. The shift to digital workplaces and consumer services accelerated by the pandemic is boosting growth expectations for the kind of tech companies in which it has invested in. 

II. Public Opinion Polls

  • A Yomiuri Shimbun poll released Monday showed a 43 percent approval rating for the Suga cabinet, down 4 percent from April, and a disapproval rating of 46 percent, up 6 percent from April.
    • 44 percent of respondents cited a lack of leadership for disapproving of the Suga cabinet; 28 percent said they had low expectations for the cabinet’s policies; and 14 percent said they don’t trust the prime minister.
    • 23 percent of respondents said they want Kono Taro to be the next prime minister; 19 percent said Shigeru Ishiba; 14 percent said they had no one in mind; 13 percent said Shinjiro Koizumi; 11 percent said Shinzo Abe; and 4 percent said Suga.
    • 23 percent of respondents approved of the government’s coronavirus response, the lowest since Yomiuri began asking the question, while 68 percent said they disapproved of its response.
    • 43 percent of respondents said the extended COVID-19 state of emergency until May 31 is too short; 39 percent said it was the appropriate length; and 8 percent said it is too long.
    • 52 percent of respondents said they want to get vaccinated, but not now; 30 percent said they want to get vaccinated immediately; 12 percent said they don’t want to get vaccinated; and 5 percent said they had already been vaccinated.
    • 70 percent of respondents approved of the position set out in the April Suga-Biden summit for Japan-U.S. cooperation to compete with China, while 19 percent disapproved of the approach.
    • 47 percent of respondents approved of Japan’s potential use of collective self-defense in a conflict between the U.S. and China over Taiwan, while 41 percent disapproved of its potential use.
    • 51 percent of respondents approved of the government’s decision to release treated wastewater from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, while 40 percent disapproved of the decision.
    • 77 percent of respondents believe Japan will not be able to achieve Suga’s goal of a 46 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared with fiscal 2013 levels, while 14 percent believe it is achievable.
    • 59 percent of respondents said the Olympic Games should be cancelled; 23 percent said it should be held without spectators; and 16 percent said it should be held with a limited number of spectators.
  • The survey also collected data on the latest approval ratings of political parties.
Party NameApproval Rate (%)
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)37 (-2)
Komeito (coalition partner of the LDP)2 (-1)
Constitutional Democratic Party (CDP)7 (+2)
Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party)2 (±0)
Democratic Party for the People (DPP)1 (+1)
Japanese Communist Party (JCP)2 (±0)
Social Democratic Party (SDP)0 (±0)
The NHK Party0 (-)
Reiwa Shinsengumi 0 (±0)
Independents44 (+1)
Number in parenthesis shows net change from March survey
  • A Jiji poll released Friday showed a 32 percent approval rating for the Suga cabinet, down 4 percent from April, and a disapproval rating of 45 percent, up 7 percent from April. Approval was the lowest since the cabinet was formed.
  • An NHK poll released Monday showed a 35 percent approval rating for the Suga cabinet, down 9 percent from April, and a disapproval rating of 43 percent, up 5 percent from April.
    • 40 percent of respondents cited low expectations of the cabinet’s policies for disapproving of the Suga cabinet; 39 percent said a lack of leadership; and 9 percent said they don’t trust the prime minister.
    • 86 percent of respondents said they “somewhat” or “greatly” fear contracting the coronavirus, while 11 percent said they do not.
    • 32 percent of respondents said they “somewhat” or “largely” approved of the government’s coronavirus response, while 63 percent said they did not approve of its response.
    • 88 percent of respondents said they “somewhat” or “greatly” fear the spread of the variant strain, while 9 percent said they do not.
    • 56 percent of respondents said extending the state of emergency to May 31 will have a “somewhat” or “great” impact on mitigating the spread of the virus, while 39 percent said it would have “little” to “no” effect.
    • 82 percent of respondents said the speed of the government’s vaccination program was slow, while 9 percent said it was going as scheduled.
    • 49 percent of respondents said the Olympic Games should be cancelled; 23 percent said it should be held without spectators; 19 percent said it should be held with a limited number of spectators; 2 percent said it should be held as originally planned.
    • 29 percent of respondents approved of the government’s decision to release treated wastewater from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, while 22 percent disapproved of the decision.
    • 54 percent of respondents said the Diet should proceed with discussions about amending the Constitution, while 27 percent said it should not.
NHK survey results between Jan. 2020-May 2021 (Author Created)
  • The survey also collected data on the latest approval ratings of political parties.
Party NameApproval Rate (%)
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)34 (-3)
Komeito (coalition partner of the LDP)3 (-1)
Constitutional Democratic Party (CDP)6 (±0)
Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party)2 (±0)
Democratic Party for the People (DPP)1 (+1)
Japanese Communist Party (JCP)3 (±0)
Social Democratic Party (SDP)0 (±0)
The NHK Party0 (-)
Reiwa Shinsengumi0 (±0)
Independents44 (+4)
Number in parenthesis shows net change from March survey

Image: Captain76 (CC BY-SA 3.0)


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