The Weekly Observer: June 28-July 2

Condensed Ver. (usually around 1/2 of online ver.)

I. News of the Week


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

1. Government Mulls Further Extension to Pre-Emergency Measures

  • Yasutoshi Nishimura, minister in charge of economic revitalization, said Friday that the number of hospitalized patients in Tokyo are on the rise, and that there is a need to pay close attention to the burden on medical institutions, including small and medium-sized hospitals that deal with mild and moderate illnesses.

  • Case numbers are increasing especially in the greater Tokyo area. Tokyo registered 714 cases on Wednesday, the first time daily numbers topped 700 since May 26. The seven-day average was also over 500 cases, up 120 percent from the previous week. 

  • Mainichi reported Tuesday that the government is considering a two to four week extension to the pre-emergency measures (man-en bōshi-tō jūten sochi) in ten prefectures set to end on July 11. A decision is likely to be made by July 8

  • An extension would mean pre-emergency measures will be in effect during the Olympic Games. The government is also considering holding games in prefectures under the measures without spectators

  • On Monday, the government denied Fukuoka prefecture’s request to be removed from the list of prefectures under pre-emergency measures. Economic Revitalization Minister Nishimura said there is a need to completely control the spread of the virus

  • Fukuoka’s overall hospital occupancy rate and occupancy rate for patients with severe symptoms was below 20 percent, or the “Stage 2” category, qualifying it to request early lifting of pre-emergency measures. 

  • Nishimura said on a TV program aired Sunday that the government will not hesitate to declare another state of emergency in prefectures such as Tokyo that observe a spike in cases. He specifically pointed out that a key challenge will be controlling the spread among active people in their twenties and thirties.

  • Data from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government shows that in June, individuals in their twenties and thirties accounted for 50.3 percent of total cases, hitting a majority for the first time since August 2020 in the midst of the second wave.

2. Variant Cases on the Rise 

  • New analysis presented on Wednesday at the health ministry’s advisory board shows that even if there are no increases in people’s movement, Tokyo’s daily case numbers could rise to as high as 1,000 in July and 2,000 around August 4

  • In the worst case scenario, numbers could reach 2,000 in July and there could be more patients than bed occupancy in August. Experts point out that numbers are worse in the region around the capital due to the “delta” (Indian) variant

  • The Infectious Disease Surveillance Center believes that as of late June, the “delta” variant accounts for around 30 percent of cases in the Kanto region. This is likely to increase to about half by mid-July, as the “delta” variant replaces the “alpha” (U.K.) variant. 

  • The Tokyo Metropolitan Government announced Wednesday that more than 300 people had contracted the “delta” variant since the first cases were reported 72 days ago. It took the “alpha” variant around 80 days to get to the same number.

  • As of Wednesday, a total of 224 people in fifteen prefectures have contracted the “delta” variant. Last week, 71 cases were reported, more than double the previous week which observed 35 reported cases. 

  • Health experts warn that numbers could skyrocket as a result of the Olympics, causing a “fifth wave” of cases to emerge. Tokyo’s weekly average last week jumped about 125 percent from two weeks ago, while movement of people at night and during the day increased 7 percent and 1 percent, respectively. 

3. Government Continues Pause on New Applications for Mass Vaccination Sites

  • An LDP working group submitted Friday a proposal to the government suggesting municipal mass vaccination sites, which the government has stopped accepting new applications for, use Pfizer vaccines to cover for a shortage in the Moderna vaccines. 

  • The proposal also recommended use of AstraZeneca vaccines, limited to a certain age group, to avoid a shortage in vaccines. The health ministry approved the vaccine but has decided against its use due to reports of rare blood clots

  • Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato announced Thursday that the government aims to begin issuing paper “vaccine passports” in late July. The business world believes it will help facilitate overseas business trips.

  • Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday that the government will continue to not accept new applications for workplace vaccinations and municipal mass vaccination sites given unexpected demand. He explained that Japan reached 1.67 million shots per day on Tuesday, far exceeding the goal of a million shots a day. 

  • Vaccine czar Taro Kono said that the government will distribute Pfizer vaccines to cover for a shortage in Moderna vaccines that were scheduled to be distributed to municipalities that have already applied to set up mass vaccination sites.

  • Kono said Tuesday that the government expects to receive sufficient vaccine supply by the end of September and distribute these to municipalities in October. He added that out of 33 million doses set aside for workplace vaccinations, 6 million will be used at universities

  • Chugai Pharmaceutical Company submitted Tuesday a request for approval from the health ministry for emergency use of its antibody cocktail in treating COVID-19. 

  • The antibody cocktail combining antibodies casirivimab and imdevimab, already approved for emergency use in the U.S., reportedly reduced hospitalization and death by about 70 percent in clinical trials. 

  • Moderna Inc. said in a statement issued Tuesday that its vaccine produced protective antibodies against the “delta” variant. In Japan, the vaccine is being used at mass vaccination sites and for workplace vaccinations

  • Sankei reported on Saturday that pharmaceutical company Shionogi aims to double production of domestic vaccines, set to begin in January, from doses for 30 million to 60 million people. It is currently undergoing phase one and two trials

Foreign & Defense Policy

4. G20 Foreign and Development Ministers’ Meetings 

  • Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi took part in a series of G20 foreign and development ministers’ meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday.

  • The Foreign Ministers’ Meeting was held first, with a focus on global governance and sustainable development of the African continent. Motegi pointed out the importance of cooperation among G20 countries to respond to critical issues such as the coronavirus pandemic and climate change

  • Motegi also said that Japan will support the development of ports and other infrastructure in Africa as part of its “free and open Indo-Pacific” (FOIP) vision. Japan looks to respond to China’s growing influence in Africa. 

  • At the joint session, the ministers adopted the “Matera Declaration,” which calls on the world to build inclusive and resilient food chains and ensure adequate nutrition for all. It also notes that the world is not on track to achieve zero hunger, a key goal outlined in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

  • At the Development Ministers’ meeting in the afternoon, the focus was on financing sustainable development and territorial development, as well as localizing the SDGs. The communique reaffirmed the G20’s commitment to pursue a strong, inclusive and sustainable post-pandemic recovery in developing countries. 

  • A Ministerial event on Humanitarian Assistance was held on Wednesday, with a focus on the role played by logistics in the global response to crises. Motegi said Japan will coordinate with international institutions to develop supply chains for vaccines and other humanitarian assistance in developing countries.

5. Bilateral Meetings on the Sidelines of the G20 Meetings

  • Foreign Minister Motegi held bilateral meetings with his counterparts from Brunei, Italy, the U.K., the Netherlands and Indonesia on the sidelines of the G20 meetings in Italy.

  • Motegi discussed the situation in Myanmar with the foreign ministers of Brunei (Tuesday) and Indonesia (Monday). He stated Japan’s support for ASEAN’s decision to send a special envoy to Myanmar. 

  • Motegi welcomed Italy (Tuesday) and the Netherland’s (Monday) engagement in the Indo-Pacific and agreed with his counterparts to strengthen cooperation in the region.

  • With the latter, Motegi shared concerns about unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East and China Seas, and exchanged views on the human rights situations in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, North Korea and the Japan-EU Green Alliance

  • Motegi met with U.K. foreign secretary Dominic Raab on Tuesday, exchanging views on strengthening bilateral national security and defense cooperation, coordination with NATO and U.K.’s bid to join the TPP 11 (CPTPP)

6. Japan-U.S. Developments 

  • The Financial Times reported Thursday that Japan and the U.S. have been conducting war games and joint military exercises to prepare for a potential conflict with China over Taiwan. 

  • Serious planning began in the final year of the Trump administration, including activities such as tabletop war games and joint exercises in the South and East China Seas under the guise of  “disaster relief training.”

  • The two allies are increasingly concerned about the possibility of China unifying Taiwan with the mainland, which was reiterated once again by Xi Jinping in his speech marking the 100th anniversary of the CCP on Thursday. 

  • On Monday, lawmakers from the Nishinoomote City Assembly in Kagoshima prefecture, who support the plan to move a training site for U.S. carrier-based aircraft to their city, met with Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi.

  • The lawmakers requested that the plan proceed despite opposition from the mayor of the city, who says there will be more to lose than gain. This follows the assembly passing a written opinion approving the plan on June 23. 

7. Foreign Policy Developments 

  • Suga announced at the triennial, 9th Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM9) on Friday that, starting mid-July, Japan will provide three million vaccine doses by the end of the year through the COVAX facility. The leaders also discussed strengthening cooperation through efforts based on the FOIP vision.

  • To that end, Suga expressed his intention to promote cooperation in ocean security and maritime resources; coordinate climate change responses; and provide high quality infrastructure support with an emphasis on openness and transparency to strengthen the foundations of strong and sustainable economic development. 

  • Throughout the week, Suga held bilateral meetings with leaders from fourteen of the eighteen countries and regions which participated in the PALM9 meeting. 

  • Suga said the Pacific Island countries are important partners to Japan and that he looks forward to strengthening ties with each to achieve FOIP. He also announced Japan will continue to support the development of “cold chains” to deliver vaccines at low temperatures.

  • Foreign Minister Motegi traveled to Estonia and met with Prime Minister Kaja Kallas and Foreign Minister Eva-Maria Liimets on Thursday. 

  • Motegi discussed infrastructure cooperation with the Baltic states, strengthening a rules-based order in line with FOIP, and bilateral cooperation in fields such as cyber and the digital space. He also exchanged views on the regional situation from Russia to North Korea to the Uyghurs to China’s maritime assertiveness

  • Sankei revealed Wednesday that the LDP sent a telegram to China in the name of Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai, ahead of the Communist Party’s 100th anniversary on Thursday. Former speaker of the Lower House and LDP president Yohei Kono, Ichiro Ozawa and the Constitutional Democratic Party also sent messages. 

  • Requested by China, the telegram mentioned the importance of both Japan and China fulfilling their responsibilities for peace and stability in the East Asian region and meeting the expectations of the international community.

  • South Korea’s former chief prosecutor Yoon Seok-youl, who is running for president in next year’s election, said Tuesday that he would seek a “grand bargain” with Japan to resolve the historical issues and pursue cooperation in defense, foreign affairs and the economy. 

  • Yoon resigned four months ago after clashing with Moon over investigations against his aides and the government’s constant attempts to curb the prosecutors’ authority. 

8. Defense-Related Developments

  • In response to Xi Jinping’s statement reiterating Beijing’s ambition to achieve reunification with Taiwan, Defense Minister Kishi said Friday that Japan will continue to desire a peaceful resolution to the issues involving Taiwan. Kishi stated that a stable situation around Taiwan is important for Japan’s security.

  • The Maritime Self-Defense Force announced Wednesday that JSS Hamana conducted offshore replenishment training with an Indian Navy vessel in the South China Sea on Tuesday. The rare bilateral exercise in the South China Sea is viewed as a move to restrain China, which is increasing its presence in the region.

  • Prime Minister Suga visited the Ground Self-Defense Force’s Narashino Training Area on Tuesday behind closed doors to observe the special operations group

  • A study published on Monday by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) grouped Japan in the lowest tier of countries in cyberspace capabilities. Japan ranks below countries including the U.S., Australia, China and Russia

  • It notes that while Japan has taken steps to bolster its cybersecurity strategy, it has weak defenses in cyberspace and underdeveloped offensive capabilities due to constitutional and political constraints on the use of force. 

  • Defense Minister Kishi visited Hokkaido on Tuesday and Wednesday to observe the development of defense capabilities at the northern border. 

  • He spoke to personnel at SDF bases and noted that Japan must secure superiority in the land, air, sea and new areas such as electronic warfare over countries such as China and Russia, which are increasing military activities in the region. 

  • An expert group reviewing the government’s maritime policy submitted a proposal on Monday, calling for an increase in quantity and improvement in quality of Coast Guard vessels and aircraft to respond to China’s maritime assertiveness in waters that threaten Japan’s security. 

  • The proposal also recommended efforts to develop offshore wind power generation technology, with an eye on expanding into Asian markets, in order to achieve the government’s goal of going carbon neutral by 2050. 

  • State Minister of Defense Yasuhide Nakayama said at a Hudson Institute event aired Monday that it was necessary to “wake up” to China’s actions on Taiwan and protect the country as a “democratic country.”

  • Nakayama said he didn’t know whether the decision to follow a “One China”’ policy since the 1970s was right. At one point, he referred to Taiwan as a “brother” and noted that if something happened there, it would affect Okinawa. Nakayama previously said Taiwan is the “red line” that should not be crossed. 

  • The defense ministry decided that it will use the SPY-7 radar (Lockheed) instead of the SPY-6 radar (Raytheon) for its two Aegis-equipped vessels that will replace the axed Aegis Ashore land-based ballistic missile defense system. 

  • The SPY-7 radar was originally slated for use with the Aegis Ashore system and not a vessel given its size and weight. The defense ministry decided to use it anyway due to better cost and performance

  • Officials say that Japan really had no choice given it had already shelled out ¥70-80 billion (≈$630-719 million) to sign a contract with Lockheed before the Aegis Ashore plan was cancelled. 

Domestic Politics

9. Political Developments 

  • The finance ministry established Friday a basic policy for the next fiscal year’s budget requests by each ministry and agency. It decided to request a reduction in discretionary spending from this fiscal year, which was around ¥15 trillion (≈$135 billion).

  • The basic policy will strike a balance by allocating a new special section in the budget for policies related to the four pillars of growth: realizing a green society, accelerating digitization, creating vibrant regional economies and achieving a society accommodating to families with children.

  • Former prime minister Yasuo Fukuda criticized Thursday the government’s response to the falsification of public documents over the dubious sale of state-owned land to Moritomo Gakuen, a private education institution. 

  • He said that “it is important for the people to know the truth in order to promote sound democracy. If public documents to be created are not created and the ones to be preserved are not preserved, it is a betrayal of the people’s trust.

  • The ministry of health, labor and welfare put together a draft of its white paper on Monday. Based on the experiences from this pandemic, the draft points out the need to develop a health care system that can withstand a crisis.

  • In particular, the draft points out a need to consider coordination and division of roles among medical institutions to avoid taking excessive time to acquire hospital bed space and gather medical staff. 

  • LDP Secretary-General Nikai said Sunday that the party will prepare a draft of this year’s supplementary budget, demanded by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to aid economic recovery, before the Lower House election in the fall. 

10. State of the Economy

  • A group of 130 nations and territories made up mostly of OECD member states (including Japan) issued a statement on Friday that they had reached an agreement to set a global minimum corporate tax rate of at least 15 percent. 

  • The 130 countries and jurisdictions, including the U.S., China and India, represent more than 90 percent of global GDP. The deal is meant to halt a race to the bottom in tax rates. 

  • A new digital tax will also target about 100 tech companies that make at least around $23 billion in revenue with a profit margin of 10 percent. The proposal will be presented at the G20 meeting next week for a ministerial level agreement.

  • Finance Minister Taro Aso said that it would be “historic” if a final deal is reached in October. He expressed his intention to proceed with discussions with countries that did not sign the agreement, and stated that the final goal is getting every country and region on board.

  • Government data released Tuesday showed that the unemployment rate in May worsened to 3 percent, down 0.2 percent from April and the highest in five months, as the COVID-19 state of emergency was extended to ten prefectures.

  • A Nikkei survey of 100 CEOs released Tuesday showed that only 12 percent of major Japanese companies said they screened for human rights violations at businesses that supply them indirectly. 

  • Around 80 percent of companies responded that such violations are a growing risk to business. Many companies, as high as 71 percent, have adopted frameworks to research and monitor human rights concerns. 

  • The number of companies looking for human rights concerns beyond their immediate business partners dwindles the farther away in the supply chain it gets. Less than half of respondents screen for violations within their own group

11. Less Than a Month Until the Olympic Games

  • Yomiuri reported Friday that the government is leaning toward holding games at large venues and at night without spectators, while considering ways to hold games that have sold less than 5,000 tickets with spectators. 

  • Prime Minister Suga said Thursday that the games would be held without spectators if the government declares another state of emergency. 

  • The government will decide whether to lift the pre-emergency measures or declare another state of emergency in Tokyo and other prefectures next week. If the pre-emergency measures remain in place, the upper limit will be lowered to 5,000 or 50 percent venue capacity as per the government’s standards. 

  • A final decision on spectators will be made in the five-way meeting between the IOC, IPC, organizing committee, Tokyo and the Government of Japan. 

  • Less than a month out from the games, there are still concerns this could end up being a ‘superspreader’ event. The EURO soccer tournament being held in Europe has been linked to 2,000 individuals in Scotland testing positive for COVID-19.

  • The health ministry also announced Thursday that an individual between 10-19 years old who was on the same flight as the Ugandan athletes who contracted the virus had tested positive too. 

  • The government announced Wednesday that it will revise the rules regarding the isolation of athletes who arrive from abroad that test positive for COVID-19. If an athlete tests positive during the pre-game camp or other activities at their host town, the entire team will cancel practice and be placed under quarantine.

  • Learning from the case of the Ugandan athletes, the government will also identify those who have come into close contact with COVID-19 patients at quarantine stations in airports. These individuals will be placed on a separate bus to prevent further spread of the virus. 

  • Government officials revealed Wednesday that the government is arranging for athletes who come into close contact with COVID-19 patients to be allowed to compete during the 14-day quarantine period. 

  • The government decided Sunday that it will request athletes from six countries where the “delta” variant is spreading, such as India and Nepal, to be tested every day for a week before entering Japan.  

  • The current rules stipulate that athletes, coaches and staff be tested twice within four days of expected arrival and daily after entering the country. 

  • In addition, athletes from five countries including Egypt and Vietnam, where COVID-19 cases are on the rise, will be required to undergo daily testing for three days before entering the country. Athletes can begin training after three days in the country as long as they do not come into contact with people outside their team.

  • The IOC announced Wednesday that President Thomas Bach will arrive in Japan on July 8. Bach will visit Hiroshima, where an atomic bomb was dropped, on July 16, while arrangements are being made for John Coates, head of the IOC’s Coordination Commission, to visit Nagasaki

  • A note released on Tuesday, sent to athletes and others involved in the games by President Bach, said that the IOC expects 84 percent of national and regional delegations, as well as 70-80 percent of the press to be vaccinated upon arrival.

  • Asahi reported Tuesday that Japan and the U.S. are arranging for First Lady Jill Biden to attend the opening ceremony in place of President Biden, who will not be traveling to Japan. 

  • The organizing committee announced Saturday that it plans to have enough vaccine supply to vaccinate any of the 70,000 volunteers who desire to get vaccinated.

12. Other Developments

  • Reports on Friday say four fashion companies including Uniqlo France are being investigated on suspicion of concealing crimes against humanity in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Two NGOs complained back in April that the firms were suspected of using materials made with forced labor there. 

  • Reports surfaced Thursday that Hiroaki Nakanishi, former chairman of powerful business lobby Keidanren, had passed away on Sunday at age 75. 

  • Nakanishi, also a former executive chairman of Hitachi, stepped down last month as the chief of the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) to focus on treatment for lymphoma. 

  • Under his leadership, Keidanren scrapped its decades-old guidelines for hiring of university graduates to allow more flexibility in recruitment amid competition with foreign firms for young talent. He also loosened membership requirements to encourage startups to join the organization dominated by large companies. 

  • Government officials revealed Thursday that the government postponed the creation of a preparation team that will prepare for the establishment of a  “Children’s Agency,” which is expected to spearhead the crafting of policies related to children. It will be established once personnel changes are in place.

  • Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshi Kajiyama apologized on Monday for the incident last week in which two METI officials were arrested on suspicion of applying for subsidies, aimed at small- and mid-sized businesses, through a shell company last December to swindle about ¥5.5 million (≈$50,000).

  • At the first trial of the bribery case involving ex-farm minister Takamori Yoshikawa on Monday, egg company Akita Foods’ ex-CEO Yoshiki Akita admitted to giving the ex-minister ¥5 million between 2018-2019

  • According to the indictment, Akita gave a total of ¥5 million in bribes over three meetings with the minister at a hotel and the minister’s office between November 2018 and August 2019. He paid the bribe to gain preferential treatment for the poultry industry. 

  • Akita has also been accused of violating the Political Funds Control Act for purchasing Yoshikawa’s fundraising party tickets under a fake name. Yoshikawa maintains that the money was not a bribe. His trial date has not been set.


13. Developments Related to the Lower House Election

  • Former prime minister Shinzo Abe and LDP Secretary-General Nikai met Wednesday to discuss coordinating party endorsements for Lower House candidates from competing factions in single-member districts.

  • In an interview published in a magazine last Friday, Abe said that the election will be considered a victory if the ruling coalition can win a majority, or 233 seats. 

  • Abe also added three names to his previous list of potential prime ministers: Education Minister Kōichi Hagiuda, Economic Revitalization Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura and former education minister Hirokazu Matsuno. All of them are members of Abe’s faction. 

  • Secretary-General Nikai said at a press conference on Tuesday that the party will prioritize endorsements for incumbents in the upcoming election. 

  • He added that the party will penalize Yoshimasa Hayashi, former education minister and Upper House candidate, if he runs for Yamaguchi’s 3rd district, a seat held by fellow LDP lawmaker and Nikai faction heavyweight Takeo Kawamura.

  • The party rules dictate that members will be penalized for acts that put official candidates at a disadvantage.  Nikai believes Hayashi, who plans to run as an independent if necessary, is doing just that to take down Kawamura. 

  • There are some within the Nikai faction that believe Hayashi should be removed from the party if he challenges Kawamura. The in-party battle will also be one between the Nikai faction (Kawamura) and the Kishida faction (Hayashi). 

  • Hayashi said last Friday that he will officially announce his candidacy soon. The lawmaker is making the switch to become prime minister, a position held by lawmakers typically in the Lower House. 

14. Tokyo Assembly Election on Sunday 

  • As the election approaches, both the LDP and opposition parties are closely watching Governor Yuriko Koike and whether she endorses the Tomin First Party, for which she serves as special adviser

  • Koike returned to public duties on Wednesday following a short absence since last week. She has not endorsed her former party, which she led to victory in the last Tokyo Assembly election. 

  • Though the polls put the LDP and Komeito at an advantage, the ruling coalition believes a late Koike endorsement could easily sway the race the opposite way. The opposition also believes a few Koike stump speeches could swing a few seats away from the ruling coalition. 

  • A Tomin First Party lawmaker tweeted Wednesday that Koike sent a signed document that indicated she would continue fighting with the party. It read, “The citizens are behind us. Let’s do our best.” 

  • Others find Koike will sit this election out, especially given the LDP indirectly supported her reelection bid for governor last year. Others suggest that she is reluctant to oppose the LDP because national subsidies are indispensable to improve Tokyo’s finances, hit hard by heavy spending during the pandemic.

  • The focus of the election is likely to be Tokyo’s COVID-19 response and the Olympic Games. Polling from several newspapers found the LDP in the lead: Tokyo Shimbun (18.4%); Jiji (based on research in districts); Kyodo (31.8%); and Asahi (24%). 

Other Noteworthy News

  • Mitsubishi Electric CEO Steps Down Over Falsified Data: Mitsubishi Electric President and CEO Takeshi Sugiyama said Friday at a press conference that he will resign after revelations that the company used a computer program to generate falsified data for rail equipment going back as far as the 1980s. Reports emerged that the company used a program to automatically fill in reports on inspections requested by customers for products such as air conditioners. It also reused old data instead of conducting new tests for products like air compressors for brakes. Sugiyama called the improper inspections “systematic wrongdoing,” with employees also revealing that senior management knew what was going on. This is not the first time quality control has been an issue, with the revelation last year that the company had shipped car radio receivers to the European Union that failed to meet local standards. The company has actually reviewed its quality control measures three times since FY 2016, but uncovered nothing from the inspections. Part of the problem was that two of the three were internal reviews; the company will set up an investigative committee with a third-party lawyer in charge to look into the issue. The result of the investigation and measures to prevent future inappropriate inspections will be announced in September.

  • Drunk Truck Driver Kills Two Children in Chiba: The media reported Monday that two elementary school boys were killed and three others injured when a truck driven by a drunk man crashed into them on a street in Chiba prefecture. The incident occurred in Yachimata as the children were returning home from school. The driver was found to have been intoxicated, exceeding the legal limit for alcohol at the time of his arrest. Hiroshi Umezawa, a sixty year old employed at a local transport company, admitted to crashing into the group of children after hitting a utility pole when he suddenly swerved to the left. He was arrested on suspicion of negligent driving resulting in death and injury. Following the incident, Prime Minister Suga instructed Wednesday a comprehensive inspection of school zones across the country. He also visited the site of the incident on Thursday and laid a wreath for the deceased children. Suga told the mayor of the city that the government will support making a sidewalk on the street where the incident occurred. Reports surfaced on Wednesday that local parent teacher associations and others had requested guardrails be set up in the street as early as 2014, but that it had not materialized because the city prioritized the maintenance of busier streets.  

II. Public Opinion Polls

  • An Asahi Shimbun poll released Sunday showed a 30 percent approval rating for the Suga cabinet and a disapproval rating of 59 percent.
    • 57 percent of respondents approve of Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, while 27 percent disapprove
    • 60 percent of respondents have a slight interest in the Tokyo Assembly election; 23 percent have a great interest; and 17 percent have no interest.
    • 69 percent of respondents plan to vote; 25 percent would like to vote if possible; and 5 percent do not plan to vote
    • 42 percent of respondents think the LDP and Komeito coalition should not win a majority in the Tokyo assembly, while 32 percent think the coalition should win a majority.
    • 53 percent of respondents will not consider a party’s position on the Olympic Games when voting, while 39 percent will consider its position.
    • 42 percent of respondents approve of Governor Koike’s response regarding the Olympic Games, while 42 percent disapprove.
    • 38 percent of respondents think the Olympic Games should be held in the summer; 33 percent think it should be cancelled; and 27 percent think it should be postponed again.
    • 64 percent of respondents believe the games should be held without spectators, while 30 percent believe it should be held with limited spectators.
    • 55 percent of respondents approve of Governor Koike’s coronavirus response, while 35 percent do not
    • 44 percent of respondents believe the state of emergency, which was lifted on June 20, had a “somewhat” or “great” effect on preventing the spread of the coronavirus, while 56 percent believe it had “little” to “no” effect
    • 36 percent of respondents believe the coronavirus countermeasure restricting alcohol consumption at eateries to two people for 90 minutes until 7 p.m. is appropriate; 29 percent believe it is too lax; 26 percent believe it is too strict.
    • 66 percent of respondents oppose the idea of Tokyo bidding for the integrated resort (IR) project, while 24 percent support the idea.
    • When asked which party they would vote for in the Tokyo Assembly election:
      • 24 percent of respondents plan to vote for the LDP;
      • 15 percent for the Tomin First Party (Tokyoites First);
      • 9 percent for the CDP;
      • 7 percent for the Communist Party;
      • 7 percent for independents;
      • 5 percent for Komeito;
      • 2 percent for the Japan Innovation Party;
      • 2 percent for Reiwa Shinsengumi;
      • 1 percent for the Democratic People’s Party;
      • 1 percent for the Seikatsusha Network of Tokyo;
      • And 1 percent for other parties.
  • The survey also collected data on the latest approval ratings of political parties.
Party NameApproval Rate (%)
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)28
Komeito (coalition partner of the LDP)5
Constitutional Democratic Party (CDP)8
Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party)2
Democratic Party for the People (DPP)0
Japanese Communist Party (JCP)4
Social Democratic Party (SDP)0
Reiwa Shinsengumi0
The Party to Protect the People From Old Parties
(Former NHK Party)
Tomin First Party (Tokyoites First)2
  • A Yomiuri Shimbun poll released Monday showed a 59 percent approval rating for Governor Yuriko Koike and a disapproval rating of 34 percent.
    • 57 percent of respondents said they disapprove of the decision to hold the Olympic Games with limited spectators, while 35 percent approve.
    • 48 percent of respondents approve of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s coronavirus response, while 45 percent disapprove
  • A Nikkei Shimbun/TV Tokyo poll released Monday showed a 43 percent approval rating for the Suga cabinet, up 3 percent from May, and a disapproval rating of 50 percent
    • 48 percent of respondents cited a lack of leadership for not supporting the cabinet, while 33 percent said they did not like its policies.
    • 39 percent of respondents approve of the government’s coronavirus response, up 8 percent from May, while 57 percent disapprove, down 7 percent.
    • 33 percent of respondents said the Olympic Games should be held without spectators; 22 percent said it should be held with a 10,000 cap on spectators; and 4 percent said it should be held as originally planned
  • A survey conducted in February by the National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry was released on Wednesday. It showed that 11 percent of respondents did not want to get vaccinated, and that the number was higher among younger generations.
    • 15 percent of those between 15-39 years old; 12 percent of those between 40-64 years old; and 6 percent of those between 65-79 years old said they did not want to get vaccinated.

Image: Captain76 (CC BY-SA 3.0)


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