The Weekly Observer: July 5-9

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

I. News of the Week


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

1. Government Declares Fourth State of Emergency

  • The government declared Thursday a fourth state of emergency in Tokyo and an extension in Okinawa prefecture until August 22. On Wednesday, Tokyo recorded 900 daily cases for the first time since May

  • The government will extend pre-emergency measures (man-en bōshi-tō jūten sochi) from July 12 to August 22 in Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa and Osaka. Measures in place in Hokkaido, Aichi, Kyoto, Hyogo and Fukuoka will be lifted on July 11. 

  • Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga explained that the measures would be in place to avoid another spike in cases. Reports suggest the government extended the measures until August 22 to cover the “Obon” period (8/13-16) when people return home to honor the spirits of their ancestors. 

  • The Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s expert panel reported Thursday that if cases continue to increase at the current pace, daily numbers could reach around 1,500 on August 4. The most recent seven-day average in the capital was up from 503 to 625 new cases

  • Data shows that the vaccine has reduced the ratio of those above 65 years of age in Tokyo’s daily case tally to around six percent, while there has been a marked increase in patients in their forties and fifties with severe symptoms. 

  • The health ministry announced Wednesday that there were 80 more “delta variant” (Indian) cases across twenty prefectures in the week leading up to July 5. This brought the total up to 304, with Tokyo recording the most at 61 cases.

2. Government Imposes Further Restrictions on Alcohol

  • In Tokyo and Okinawa, the government will request eateries to stop serving alcohol and close by 8 p.m. This is the same for prefectures under pre-emergency measures, but governors can decide to relax restrictions as they see fit. 

  • The prime minister said that the government is preparing to pay the “cooperation fee” in advance to eateries that comply with these measures. This comes as eateries complain about delays in compensation from previous emergencies.

  • The government will also request liquor distributors to stop supplying noncompliant eateries with alcohol. It is also considering informing financial institutions about noncompliant eateries and requesting that these institutions encourage compliance.

  • Following confusion over Economic Revitalization Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura’s possibly misleading statement regarding the financial institutions, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said Friday that the government will not ask financial institutions to encourage businesses to comply. The statement sounded as if financial institutions would threaten cutting off loans to noncompliant businesses.

  • Tokyo and Okinawa will ask eateries to stop serving alcohol and close by 8 p.m., while Osaka will relax its measures for eateries that follow specific protocol and allow four people to dine together instead of the previous two. 

  • Large-scale events will be required to end by 9 p.m. and cap spectators at 5,000 or 50 percent of venue capacity. Tokyo will not ask large-scale commercial facilities to completely close, but will require department stores to continue efforts to close by 8 p.m., as well as amusement parks and theaters by 9 p.m.

  • People on the streets genuinely do not believe an emergency will do anything as many have already become desensitized to the ill effects of the pandemic. Others question the “special treatment” of the Olympic Games. 

3. Vaccination Reservations Outpace Supply

  • The government revealed Thursday that less than half of the Pfizer vaccines distributed to prefectures such as Tokyo and Osaka have been used. The health ministry calculates that as many as 38 million doses are stored across the country. 

  • While the government hopes municipalities make use of these vaccines, many of them point out that these numbers are counting vaccines for second inoculations and ones that have not been recorded in the national database yet. It means there is likely to be less vaccines being stored and ready for use than this. 

  • Health Minister Norihisa Tamura said Wednesday that there is a mismatch in supply between municipalities that have completed vaccinations and those that haven’t.

  • He noted that the government distributed about 90 million doses by the end of June, and that there should be around 40 million doses stored across the country based on total shots administered so far.

  • Nikkei reported Wednesday that Japan ranked 43rd in the COVID-19 Recovery Index, which ranks more than 120 countries and regions on infection management, vaccine rollouts and social mobility at the end of each month. Japan scored low especially on testing, confirmed cases per capita and policy stringency.  

  • Vaccine czar Taro Kono announced Tuesday that the government will distribute about 11.7 million doses (10,000 boxes) of the Pfizer vaccine to municipalities every two weeks between July and the end of September.

  • Kono announced the plan after municipalities, concerned about a vaccine shortage, demanded the government make clear its distribution schedule.

  • Starting August, about 590,000 doses will be allocated across two weeks to mass vaccination sites operated by local governments, while 1.76 million doses will be newly allocated under a “discretionary program” according to population size. 

  • The remaining 9.36 million doses will be allocated according to population size, but supply will be cut 10 percent for municipalities with “more than six weeks” worth of supply. September’s allocation formula will be determined based on the progress of workplace vaccinations. 

  • Kono also said that imports of the Moderna vaccine by the end of June had decreased by about 60 percent from the original plan of 40 million to 13.7 million doses. He cited high demand for the vaccine worldwide for the delay. 

  • He added that the remaining supply would be sent over to Japan by the end of September and will not affect the plan to have “50 million doses by the end of September”. 

  • The health ministry informed municipalities on Monday that 12.4 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be distributed across two weeks starting July 19. 

  • Approximately 570,000 doses will be sent to nine prefectures and 1.58 million to 78 cities, wards and towns for use at mass vaccination sites that are currently suspending the use of Moderna vaccines due to a shortage in supply.

  • The ministry also encourages those who have been vaccinated to go to a hospital if a fever persists for more than two days after vaccination. Experts suggest it is difficult to distinguish between vaccine side effects and contracting the virus.

  • A Nomura Research Institute researcher informed Prime Minister Suga on Saturday that if vaccination pace continues at 1.2 million shots a day, 40 percent of the population will have received two shots by August 30. The end date is moved up to August 21 when workplace vaccinations are taken into account. 

Foreign & Defense Policy

4. Japan-U.S. Developments

  • Last Friday, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshi Kajiyama spoke on the phone with Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry.

  • Kajiyama introduced Japan’s “Green Growth Strategy” and exchanged views on bilateral cooperation in climate change and energy.

5. Foreign Policy Developments

  • NHK reported Wednesday that Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi is arranging to travel to Iran to meet members of the new government mid-next month. 

  • He is expected to call on Iran to play a constructive role in alleviating tensions and stabilizing the situation in the Middle East. Motegi will also travel to Israel, Palestine, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Qatar.

  • Government officials revealed Wednesday that the government is considering holding a Suga-Moon summit if the South Korean president visits Japan for the Olympic Games. 

  • Whether the first meeting between the two leaders will be a full-fledged summit or a short greeting will depend on South Korea showing up with concrete measures to improve Japan-South Korea ties, especially on the historical issues.

  • Prime Minister Suga indicated Thursday that he would welcome Moon cordially if the latter decided to come to Japan, but noted that he would continue to demand the appropriate response to the historical issues. 

  • Foreign Minister Motegi announced Tuesday that Japan will send an additional 1.13 million AstraZeneca vaccine doses to Taiwan on Thursday. It has already sent 1.24 million doses last month. 

  • Japan also sent vaccines to the Philippines and Vietnam the same day and expects to drop off vaccines in Thailand on Friday. 

  • Motegi finished his visit to the three Baltic states on Saturday, rounding it off with a virtual press conference. He noted that Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania shared concerns about Chinese actions and agreed to pursue cooperation toward the realization of a free and open Indo-Pacific.

6. Defense-Related Developments 

  • The government compiled Wednesday a new cybersecurity strategy for the next three years, pointing out that China, Russia and North Korea are believed to be conducting cyberattacks to steal information. 

  • The government hopes to push cybersecurity as a higher priority in foreign policy and national security, as well as promote cooperation with the U.S., Australia, India and ASEAN to achieve a free and open Indo-Pacific.

  • The strategy will be endorsed by the government as early as September. In addition, the government will prioritize strengthening countermeasures against large-scale cyberattacks and improving defense capabilities of critical infrastructure in its FY2022 budget request. 

  • Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato said Tuesday that the government cannot predetermine which cases, such as a Taiwan contingency, will fall under a “survival-threatening situation” (sonritsu kiki jitai). 

  • Kato was responding to a question about Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso’s statement on Monday that Japan could recognize a Chinese attack on Taiwan as a “survival-threatening situation” and exercise limited collective self-defense. 

  • Such a situation is defined in the 2014 peace and security legislation as one in which an armed attack against a foreign country that is in a close relationship with Japan occurs and could later pose a threat to fundamentally uproot Japanese citizens’ lives

  • The Maritime Self-Defense Force announced Monday that it had conducted a naval exercise between June 30-July 3 with the navies of the U.S., South Korea and Australia

  • The sides conducted electronic warfare training, tactical exercises and communication training to bolster cooperation to achieve a free and open Indo-Pacific. Japan and South Korea conducted its first exercise together since September last year, when the same four countries met at sea.

  • Defense Minister Kishi Nobuo held a video conference with Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Tuesday, confirming the importance of a free and open maritime order based on the rule of law and agreeing to further promote defense cooperation between the two sides.

  • The MSDF joined the U.S. Navy and Sri Lanka Navy and Air Force for the first time last week in a training session during the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise which concluded on June 30.

  • Kishi urged Russia on Tuesday not to infringe on Japan’s right as a coastal nation when it conducts an exercise involving missiles in the Sea of Japan, which includes Japan’s exclusive economic zone, starting Wednesday. He also expressed his intention to keep an eye on trends.

  • The defense ministry announced the same day that seven Russian vessels, including a guided missile cruiser, were spotted Sunday traveling north between Okinawa and Miyakojima and headed for the Sea of Japan. It is the first time since last December that the MOD has announced spotting Russian vessels in this part of the sea.

  • The LDP’s Foreign Affairs Division submitted last Thursday a proposal to the government recommending the 2015 Japan-U.S. defense guidelines be revised to focus on situations involving China, such as in the Taiwan Strait

  • The LDP’s National Defense Division and the Research Commission on National Security also recently prepared a proposal recommending greater defense spending to bolster defense in response to China’s military buildup. 

Domestic Politics

7. Political Developments 

  • Prime Minister Suga indicated Thursday that he is willing to form a supplementary budget for FY 2021 to rebuild the economy hit hard by the pandemic. LDP Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai insisted that this budget be around ¥30 trillion (≈$273 billion).

  • The diet affairs committee chairs of the CDP, JCP and DPP agreed Thursday to demand an extraordinary session of the Diet ahead of the Olympics to prepare for unforeseen situations following a spike in coronavirus cases. 

  • If the ruling coalition rejects this demand, the opposition will invoke Article 53 of the Constitution, which says the cabinet must hold a session if a quarter or more of total members of either House requests a session. 

  • Prosecutors requested on Thursday that former LDP lawmaker Tsukasa Akimoto, arrested in 2019 for accepting bribes from a Chinese company in connection with an integrated resort project he was in charge of as deputy minister of the Cabinet Office, be sentenced to five years in prison and forfeit about ¥7.6 million

  • They argued that Akimoto willingly took part in four bribery cases as deputy minister and didn’t show any remorse in court. They said he also committed an egregious crime by attempting to bribe a witness to avoid punishment.

  • On Wednesday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato instructed the working group examining the establishment of a “Children’s Agency” to prepare a basic policy by the end of the year.

  • Kato said that it is necessary to eliminate age-related restrictions on policies and vertical divisions between ministries and agencies in order to comprehensively promote policies from the perspective of children.

  • In a rare decision, the Tokyo Public Prosecutors Office said Tuesday it was dismissing charges against 100 individuals who received bribes from ex-justice minister Katsuyuki Kawai in exchange for their vote to help his wife win a seat during the 2019 Upper House election.

  • The Prosecutors Office said it took into account the fact that Kawai had forced the money onto many individuals who could not refuse the offer from a sitting minister. Kawai, who received a three-year sentence, is appealing the decision. 

  • The government decided Tuesday to appoint Vice Foreign Minister Takeo Akiba to replace Shigeru Kitamura as the new national security secretariat (NSS) secretary-general, effective Wednesday. 

  • Japan’s longest-serving career diplomat in the post-war era will be asked to deal with numerous issues such as relations with a rising China, crafting an economic security strategy and examining “enemy base striking capabilities,” which has been shelved since last year. 

  • Former trade minister Isshu Sugawara was formally found guilty on Saturday for making an illegal donation of about ¥800,000 to voters, a violation of the Public Offices Election Act. 

  • Sugawara was handed a summary order of a ¥400,000 fine and three-year suspension of his civil rights last month and had the opportunity to ask for a formal trial by Saturday. Since he did not request one, he is unable to run for public office for three years.  

  • On Monday, Hiroshi Moriyama surpassed Tadamori Oshima, current speaker of the House of Representatives, as the longest serving chair of the LDP’s Diet Affairs Committee. He was appointed to the position four years ago

8. State of the Economy

  • Nomura Research Institute released an estimate Thursday that suggests GDP will be reduced by ¥1.03 trillion (≈$11 billion), or 0.19 percent annually due to the fourth state of emergency in Tokyo and Okinawa. It also estimates an increase in unemployment by 41,000 people. 

  • Mizuho Securities and Daiichi Seimei Keizai Research Institute estimate that it will push down GDP by about ¥500 billion and ¥1 trillion, respectively. 

  • Nomura Research Institute adds that if the Olympics are held without spectators, the economic effect of the Olympics will decrease by more than ¥140 billion to ¥1.6 trillion due to a lack of ticket revenue among other things.

  • The Bank of Japan released Thursday its Opinion Survey on the General Public’s Views and Behavior, which showed a higher net negative outlook for economic conditions next year for the first time in five quarters. It worsened from negative 8.5 points in March to negative 14.9 points in June. 

  • Impressions of present economic conditions compared to last year improved slightly from negative 69.4 points to negative 61.6 points. About half of respondents said they felt prices had gone up slightly compared to last year.

  • The BOJ also released last Thursday its Tankan, a quarterly poll of business confidence showing the status of the Japanese economy. Business sentiment among large manufacturers came to a net positive of 14 points in June compared to 5 points in March, marking a fourth straight quarter of improvement. 

  • Compared to large manufacturers, non-manufacturers’ sentiment was a net positive of one point in June, two points higher than March. Sentiment (DI) for the next three months is expected to be plus 13 for manufacturers and 3 for non-manufacturers. 

  • The government accepted on Wednesday the basic policy for FY 2022 budget requests, which sets the standard for how much it is willing to allocate to specific policies.

  • It will request a 10 percent cut to discretionary spending, while allocating at least ¥4.4 trillion in “special funding” for the cabinet’s key growth areas such as decarbonization

  • The total is expected to exceed ¥100 trillion for the eighth consecutive year given increasing social welfare spending

  • LDP Policy Research Council Chair Hakubun Shimomura said Monday that the party will consider a ¥10,000 cash handout per person for households with low income and exempt from municipal (resident) tax. 

  • The finance ministry announced Monday that tax revenue last fiscal year increased 4.1 percent from the previous year to a record-high ¥60.8 trillion

  • Total tax revenue was expected to be around ¥5.5 trillion, but was higher due to strong performance by manufacturing exports and consumer demand as people stayed at home. The ministry wants to utilize the revenue to achieve a primary balance surplus, while the LDP hopes to use it for future economic packages.

9. Olympic Games to be Held Without Spectators in Greater Tokyo Area

  • At the five-way meeting between the government, Tokyo, the organizing committee, IOC and IPC on Thursday, the sides agreed to hold all games in Tokyo without spectators. 

  • In a meeting following the five-way session, the organizing committee and municipalities holding the games decided the same measures will be taken for venues in neighboring Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba prefectures. Fukushima and Hokkaido were initially due to let in spectators, but an abrupt decision was made to reverse course and hold all competitions there without spectators.

  • The decision comes after a fresh state of emergency was declared in Tokyo. The organizers had said just a month ago that they intended to let in up to 10,000 spectators at less than 50 percent capacity at all venues. 

  • On the other hand, a maximum of 10,000 spectators at less than half capacity will be allowed at venues in Miyagi and Shizuoka prefectures. Ibaraki decided only children will be allowed in with tickets issued to schools.

  • The organizers will now be forced to restructure the games, from ticket distribution to volunteer placement to overall management of the event. 

  • Two options were floated leading up to the decision. One was holding games with more than 5,000 ticket sales without spectators, in line with the restrictions for events under the pre-emergency measures. This would have resulted in 40 percent of all competitions being held without spectators. 

  • To that regard, Education Minister Koichi Hagiuda said Tuesday that Supercomputer Fugaku estimated that the risks of a viral spread at the National Stadium among 10,000 spectators, of which ten are COVID-19 patients, can be reduced significantly by wearing masks and opening seats between spectators.

  • The other was holding the Olympics completely without spectators. CDP leader Yukio Edano and Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi supported this option, arguing that the games could not be held safely with spectators at venues.

  • Some within the ruling coalition pointed out that the recent defeat in the Tokyo Assembly election proved citizens were dissatisfied with the government’s coronavirus response, and that holding the games with spectators was no longer a viable option politically

  • Nonetheless, Suga reportedly wanted to minimize the number of venues where games would be held without spectators. 

  • The government is still arranging for the Emperor, Suga, and the speakers of both Houses to attend the opening ceremony. Reports on Monday said up to 10,000 IOC members, diplomatic delegations and sponsors would also be allowed in. 

  • IOC President Thomas Bach arrived in Japan on Thursday and took part in the five-way meeting from his hotel, unable to participate in-person due to a three-day quarantine period.

  • Arrangements are being made for Bach to visit Hiroshima on July 16, the first day of the Olympic Truce, which began as a UN resolution entitled “Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic spirit.”

  • In an interview published in a magazine two weeks ago, former prime minister Shinzo Abe criticized people opposing the games, saying those flagged as anti-Japanese are the ones fiercely criticizing the games. 

  • He specifically named the Asahi Shimbun, which ran an editorial in May calling for the games to be cancelled, and the Japan Communist Party

  • Abe also said that watching Japanese athletes win medals would strengthen the bond between Japanese citizens. He stressed that there was “historical significance in Japan making the games a success as a country believing in freedom and democracy,” adding that Japan had a responsibility to see it through.


10. Political Actions Intensify Ahead of the Lower House Election

  • LDP Election Strategy Committee Chair Taimei Yamaguchi said Tuesday that he expects Suga to call the election once the viral spread subsides

  • Komeito leader Yamaguchi said Monday that it might be better to call the election after the LDP presidential election in September, once more people are vaccinated. 

  • When asked on Thursday about rumors that Tokyo Governor Koike could make a switch back to the Diet following a successful Tokyo Assembly election, LDP Secretary-General Nikai said he would very much welcome her return.

  • Nikai and Koike are known to have a close relationship, meeting frequently despite the latter leaving the LDP to run for governor in 2016. The two met on Monday and agreed to work together to roll out policies for the citizens of Tokyo.

  • After the meeting, Koike denied rumors she was preparing a return to the Diet. But the rumor has caught on, with LDP lawmaker and former defense minister Gen Nakatani saying on Wednesday that the party should seriously consider merging conservative forces with “Koike’s new party” after the election. 

  • Former LDP general council chair Wataru Takeshita announced Thursday that he will not seek re-election and will retire at the end of his term. The seventy-four year old is former prime minister Noboru Takeshita’s brother.

  • Takeshita publicized in 2019 that he had esophageal cancer and treated it, but said Thursday that he was not confident he could work to the best of his abilities. 

  • His retirement will trigger a succession race for the next head of the Keiseikai, the third largest faction in the LDP. So far, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato and former METI minister Yūko Obuchi (former prime minister Keizō Obuchi’s daughter) are being floated as potential successors.

  • Besides Takeshita, former speaker of the House of Representatives Bunmei Ibuki (83, Nikai faction), former health minister Jiro Kawasaki (73), former chief cabinet secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki (70), former state minister of Okinawa and the Northern Territories Mitsuhiro Miyakoshi (70, Kishida), Taimei Yamaguchi (72, Takeshita), former state minister of foreign affairs Norio Mitsuya (70, Kishida) and state minister of education Tsutomu Tomioka (73, Ishihara) are retiring.

11. Tomin First Party Pulls Off “Upset” in Tokyo Assembly Election

  • Despite being down in most pre-election polls, the Tomin First Party managed to hold on to thirty-one of the forty-five seats it held before the election. This prevented the LDP-Komeito coalition from winning back a majority. 

  • The LDP won thirty-three seats and won back its position as the largest party in the assembly, but failed to capitalize on an opportunity to boost momentum ahead of the Lower House election in the fall.

  • The opposition parties avoided competing with one another in some races and ended up winning more seats than the previous election. It could entice them to unify behind a single candidate in many districts come the fall.

  • Voter turnout was 42.39 percent, below 50 percent for the first time in eight years and the second lowest turnout in history. The LDP’s gains were marginal, only increasing three percent (67,000 votes) from four years ago. Other parties lost more than 100,000 votes while Tomin First lost more than a million votes

  • Out of the record-high 77 women who ran this year, 41 of them (32 percent of total) won. Of the winners, 14 ran as JCP candidates, 12 as Tomin First candidates, and four each as LDP and CDP candidates. 

  • Exit polls suggest that independents voted in favor of the Tomin First Party and other opposition parties rather than the ruling coalition. 

  • A Nikkei poll showed 25 percent of independents voted for Tomin First, 18 percent for the JCP and 15 percent for the CDP’s candidates. Yomiuri found that only 57 percent of LDP supporters voted for the party’s candidates, while 19 percent voted for Tomin First’s candidates. 

  • Some attribute the “upset” to Governor Yuriko Koike. Koike avoided publicly supporting her former party, to which she still serves as special adviser, but turned up at several candidate’s campaign headquarters a day before votes were cast.

  • Exit polls provide evidence that voters approved of Koike and the metropolitan government’s COVID-19 response and performance overall. Koike could use this momentum to launch another national campaign. Though it went nowhere, she tried once with the Party of Hope in 2017

  • On the other hand, Sunday’s results made clear that voters are unhappy with the LDP’s approach to the coronavirus, vaccine rollout and Olympic Games. It will also deal a blow to Suga who has already lost his first national races in April.

  • Media reports suggest that the LDP could lose confidence in Suga ahead of the  national election. If so, it could throw a wrench in the prime minister’s plans to call an election before his term as LDP president comes to an end in September. 

  • The LDP had a similar experience in the lead-up to the 2009 Lower House election when a blowout defeat in Tokyo led to a change in government later.

  • Tomin First lost a seat on Tuesday when it expelled lawmaker Tomiko Kinoshita from the party after reports emerged that she was involved in a car accident and was driving the car without a license. 

  • This will deal a blow to the party, which expected to have 32 votes (independent to join 31 lawmakers) and draw level with the LDP, which must appoint a speaker, who does not vote, from its 33 lawmakers. 

  • Final share (change from last election): LDP (25→33); Tomin First (45→30); Komeito (23→23); Japan Communist Party (18→19); Constitutional Democratic Party (8→15); Japan Innovation Party (1→1); Tokyo Seikatsusha Network (1→1); Independents (5→5 including Kinoshita). 

Other Noteworthy News

  • Heavy Rain Causes Floods and Landslides Across Japan: On Saturday, heavy rainfall triggered a landslide in Atami city, Shizuoka prefecture, gushing through the town and taking with it dozens of people. As of Friday, twenty-one people are still missing while nine have been reported dead. About 570 people are at evacuation shelters, 131 homes have been affected by the disaster and water outages continue in Izusan district where the landslide occurred. The SDF, police and local fire department are facing difficulties searching for the missing people due to periods of heavy rainfall and the large amount of dirt and soil that has amassed. Though it was considered a natural disaster at first, reports later surfaced that there was a possible man-made aspect to it. According to the city, a real estate company based in Kanagawa purchased land on a higher altitude than the district in 2006. It then submitted an application to expand development from the initial area, bringing in dirt and sand to fill a valley. The city government found out that industrial waste, such as wood chips and tile, were buried in the area and asked the company to rectify the problem. The company did not comply with the order and later abandoned the project. In 2011, a separate company purchased the land and per the government’s instructions, filled the valley with leftover dirt. The city found last January that 1.5 times more dirt had been used compared to the original plan for the landfill. It is likely that this excess dirt was not solid enough and exacerbated the landslide. A landslide also occurred on Thursday in Tottori prefecture but all three people involved in the situation were alright. Heavy rainfall across the country caused floods too, with the Chugoku region observing unprecedented rainfall in some areas. Cities like Mihara in Hiroshima prefecture announced the highest alert level, calling on citizens to evacuate after the embankment of a nearby river broke down. Elsewhere, local lines and shinkansen lines between Shin Osaka and Hakata (Fukuoka) were temporarily stopped, while several expressways in the region were closed down. 

  • Court Ruling to Push Forward Landfill for U.S. Base Relocation: The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday on a 3-2 decision to reject the Okinawa government’s lawsuit deeming the GOJ’s order to allow coral transplantation in the landfill site for Marine Corps Air Station Futenma as illegal. The judge writing the dissenting opinion stated that given the relocation work off the coast of Henoko still requires hardening soft ground, Okinawa’s decision to delay approval of the transplantation was not overstepping its authority. The Okinawa government received an application two years ago from the local defense bureau to transplant coral in the landfill site for the proposed relocation of MCAS Futenma. It didn’t respond to the application and ended up suing the government for the minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries’ “illegal” order demanding the Okinawa government approve the transplant. Okinawa will now have to decide whether to approve the application. There are some who believe the government has no choice but to place strict standards on the transplant procedure and approve the request. So far, Okinawa has lost four and settled or withdrew a further four cases regarding the relocation of the U.S. base. It views the ninth case surrounding the legality of the GOJ’s decision to revoke Okinawa’s withdrawal of the landfill approval as the key to preventing the relocation.

II. Public Opinion Polls

  • A JNN (TBS) poll released Monday showed a 43 percent approval rating for the Suga cabinet, up 4 percent from June, and a disapproval rating of 54 percent, down 4 percent.
    • 36 percent of respondents said they disapproved of the cabinet due to lackluster policies; 22 percent said due to Suga’s lack of leadership; and 20 percent said due to their discomfort with having an LDP-centered cabinet.
    • 38 percent respondents approve of the government’s coronavirus response, up 4 percent from June, while 51 percent disapprove, down 6 percent. 
    • 76 percent of respondents said they believe the COVID-19 pre-emergency measures in place in Tokyo should be extended beyond June 11, while 13 percent believe it should be lifted.
    • 50 percent of respondents said they believe the pre-emergency measures requiring businesses to stop serving alcohol at 7 p.m. is appropriate; 24 percent said it is too strict; and 21 percent said it is too lax
    • 52 percent of respondents said they would like to get vaccinated, down 11 percent from June; 34 percent said they have already been vaccinated, up 19 percent; and 12 percent said they do not want to get vaccinated, down 6 percent. 
    • 57 percent of respondents said they are “somewhat” or “very” worried about the side effects after getting vaccinated, while 42 percent are a “little” or “not” worried. 
    • 54 percent of respondents said they don’t accept the government’s decision to temporarily stop applications for workplace vaccinations at companies and universities, while 37 percent accept it. 
    • 63 percent of respondents said they don’t believe the government will completely vaccinate all citizens who want to get vaccinated by its goal at the end of November, while 30 percent believe it will. 
    • 35 percent of respondents said the Olympic Games should be held without spectators; 26 percent said it should be held with limited spectators; 20 percent said it should be cancelled; 14 percent said it should be postponed; and 4 percent said it should be held as originally scheduled
    • 79 percent of respondents said the government’s coronavirus countermeasures for athletes and others involved in the Olympic Games are inadequate, while 14 percent said it is adequate.
    • When asked who is best suited to be the next president of the LDP:
      • 18 percent of respondents said Taro Kono;
      • 16 percent said Shigeru Ishiba;
      • 12 percent said Shinzo Abe;
      • 12 percent said Shinjiro Koizumi;
      • 8 percent said Yoshihide Suga;
      • 3 percent said Fumio Kishida;
      • 2 percent said Seiko Noda;
      • 1 percent said Katsunobu Kato;
      • and 1 percent said Toshimitsu Motegi.
  • The survey also collected data on the latest approval ratings of political parties.
Party NameApproval Rate (%)
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)34 (-1)
Komeito (coalition partner of the LDP)4 (±0)
Constitutional Democratic Party (CDP)6 (±0)
Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party)2 (-1)
Democratic Party for the People (DPP)1 (±0)
Japanese Communist Party (JCP)3 (+1)
Social Democratic Party (SDP)0 (±0)
Reiwa Shinsengumi0 (±0)
Arashi Party
(Former Party to Protect the People From Old Parties)
0 (±0)
Independents46 (+2)
Number in parenthesis shows net change from June survey

Image: Captain76 (CC BY-SA 3.0)


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