The Weekly Observer: July 12-16

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

I. News of the Week


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

1. Tokyo Tops One Thousand Cases a Week Into Fourth State of Emergency

  • Shigeru Omi, head of the government’s coronavirus expert panel, issued a statement on Friday emphasizing the July-August period will be critical to avoid a surge in cases. He called on people to avoid traveling between prefectures to mitigate a viral spread ahead of a series of holidays and the Olympic Games.

  • Kanagawa prefecture issued its own “state of emergency” on Friday after negotiations to issue a central government state of emergency broke down. It will take effect on July 22

  • Kanagawa will extend pre-emergency measures (man-en bōshi-tō jūten sochi) to the entire prefecture and request all eateries to stop serving alcohol. The prefecture topped 400 cases for the second straight day on Friday. 

  • The Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s expert panel confirmed Thursday that the seven-day average as of Wednesday was 817 cases, 1.31 times higher than the average the previous week.

  • It estimates that if case numbers increase at this rate, the seven-day average in two weeks would be 1,402 cases, 1.72 times higher than the current rate; the average in four weeks would be 2,406 cases, 2.94 times higher than the current rate.

  • Experts warn that the spread could be faster depending on increases in people’s movement and the impact of the variant strains, exceeding case numbers confirmed at the peak of the “third wave” (1,816 cases) earlier than expected

  • The health ministry’s expert panel met Wednesday for the first time after the declaration of a fourth state of emergency in Tokyo.

  • It found that case numbers are rising significantly in the Tokyo metropolitan area and that there are concerns that this may spread to surrounding areas and eventually the entire country.

  • The greater Tokyo area (Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama) accounts for two-thirds of total case numbers nationwide.

  • The health ministry found that in the week leading up to Monday, there were 1.7 times more cases (133) of the “delta” variant (Indian) than the previous week (53).

  • According to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, 44 percent of total cases in the greater Tokyo area are the “delta” variant, with this number expected to reach 80 percent early next month and close to 100 percent at the end of next month.

  • The same can be said for Osaka, Hyogo and Kyoto, where 25 percent is the “delta” variant. This is expected to reach 50 percent by the end of the month.

  • Case numbers have increased across the country this week: national average (1.32 times compared to last week), Kanagawa (1.47 times), Osaka (1.41 times), Tokyo (1.31 times), Saitama (1.28 times) and Chiba (1.21 times). Only Okinawa registered a lower weekly average at 0.86 times compared to last week.

  • On Wednesday, Tokyo confirmed 1,149 new cases, exceeding the 1,121 cases recorded at the peak of the “fourth wave” on May 8. Tokyo confirmed 1,271 new cases on Friday, exceeding 1,000 cases for a third consecutive day. 

  • While the elderly, presumably due to vaccines, comprise less of the total, those in their twenties and thirties account for more than half of the total. There has been more than a ten percent jump since March from around 31 percent to 42 percent.

2. Government Expects to Continue Pushing Vaccination Program

  • As of Thursday, 32 percent of the population has been vaccinated once, while 20 percent has been vaccinated twice. Total vaccinations reached 66.7 million. Daily vaccinations reached 729,502 shots.

  • Vaccine czar Taro Kono said Friday that of the 3,000 or so workplace vaccination sites that are yet to open due to a shortage in vaccines, most are likely to open after the Obon holiday (August 13-16) is over.

  • The health ministry is expected to gain approval from its expert committee next Monday to lower the age at which people can receive the Moderna vaccine to twelve. It already permits the Pfizer vaccine to be administered at this age. 

  • Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Wednesday apologized for the inconvenience caused by the suspension of new reservations at municipalities where inoculation is progressing due to concerns about future vaccine supply

  • Suga promised to distribute vaccines to maintain the pace of around 1.2 million shots per day. He added that the government will share the supply and demand situation with local governments and proceed with vaccinations systematically. 

  • The prime minister also touted the success of vaccines in lowering the risk of contracting the virus, stating that while the elderly accounted for 20 percent of Tokyo’s total cases at the beginning of the year, it has recently dropped to about 4 percent and mitigated an increase in deaths and cases turning severe. 

  • Internal affairs minister Ryota Takeda told reporters Tuesday that the government expects to inoculate all elderly individuals over the age of 65 who want to get vaccinated by the end of the month.

  • The government reported that as of Sunday, 76 percent of individuals over the age of 65 have been vaccinated once.

  • Vaccine czar Kono announced Tuesday the vaccine distribution schedule for the first half of August. Of the 11.7 million Pfizer vaccine doses to be distributed over two weeks starting August 2, around 9.01 million doses (77%) will be allocated to prefectures as part of the “basic plan portion” by population size.

  • The remaining 2.69 million doses (23%) will be the “adjustment portion,” of which 2.23 million doses (19%) is distributed by local governments based on vaccination speed and 460,000 doses (4%) is set aside for municipally-operated mass vaccination sites.

  • The aim of the “adjustment portion” is to distribute as many vaccine doses to municipalities that have vaccinated their populations faster than others and lack supply. Municipalities deemed to have excess supply will see a 10 percent cut in vaccines distributed to them in August.

  • Nikkei reported Monday that pharmaceutical company Daiichi Sankyo plans to begin Phase 3 (last phase) clinical trials for its domestic vaccine this autumn with the aim to make it publicly available during 2022.

  • Besides Daiichi Sankyo, Shionogi and KM Biologics are developing domestic vaccines. Shionogi expects to produce vaccines for as many as 60 million people a year and begin production as early as the end of the year. KM Biologics plans to produce 35 million doses over six months and begin production as early as 2022.

Foreign & Defense Policy

3. Japan Publishes its 2021 Defense White Paper

  • The Ministry of Defense published Tuesday its annual defense white paper, which outlines the broad strategic policy framework for defense planning.

  • This year’s white paper featured for the first time a section dedicated to the U.S.-China competition. Unlike other years, where there is objective analysis of the regional situation, this year focuses on how the competition impacts Japan

  • It notes that “changes in the military power balance between the United States and China may possibly affect the peace and stability of the Indo-Pacific region.”

  • It also notes for the first time that “stabilizing the situation surrounding Taiwan is important for Japan’s security and the stability of the international community.” 

  • The paper notes that China’s Coast Guard Law includes provisions that are inconsistent with international law and calls out activities in Japanese waters around the Senkaku Islands as a violation of international law

  • The white paper also highlighted the importance of defense cooperation with other countries to maintain a “free and open Indo-Pacific.” It lists the U.S., Australia, India, ASEAN and European countries as those Japan promotes exchanges with.

  • It warns that military trends in North Korea pose grave and imminent threats to Japan’s security.

  • It points out how Japan is strengthening its response in new domains such as space, cyberspace and electromagnetic spectrum. It also recognizes climate change as a security issue.

  • It notes that Japan’s defense spending as a percentage of GDP is lowest among G7 countries, Australia and South Korea. The paper explains that the difference in spending with South Korea will increase to about 1.5 times in 2025.

4. G20 Finance Ministers Endorse “Historic” Global Corporate Tax

  • The G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting was held in Italy on July 9-10. A communique was issued following the meeting.

  • The pillars of the new rules are the global minimum corporate tax of at least 15 percent and the “digital tax” aimed at taxing profitable corporations that make money in a country without a physical presence.

  • The minimum tax will ensure companies are taxed at least 15 percent in their home countries even if they shift profits to subsidiaries in countries with lower tax rates (tax havens).

  • The digital tax aims to allow countries to tax a portion of the profits of large and profitable companies that have no physical presence in the country. It likely targets about one hundred companies, including U.S. tech giants that make huge profits from digital services such as advertising and streaming.  

  • In a press conference following the meeting, Finance Minister Taro Aso hailed the “first historic change in about 100 years,” emphasizing this year’s G20 has achieved more than previous years.

  • Currently, 130 countries and regions including Japan, the U.S., China and major European countries have signed on. The G20 hopes to have all countries on board.

  • A final agreement on the level of minimum corporate tax and how to distribute the digital tax among countries could be reached at the next finance ministers and central bank governors meeting in October, followed by final approval at the G20 leaders’ summit on October 30-31 in Rome. The tax could take effect in 2023.

5. Japan-U.S. Relations

  • The foreign ministry announced Friday that a deputy minister-level meeting will be held with the U.S. and South Korea next Wednesday in Tokyo. The three countries are expected to discuss responses to North Korea and China.

  • Participants are: MOFA Vice Minister Takeo Mori, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, and First Vice Minister ​​Choi Jong Kun.

  • The Global Emerging Technology Summit hosted by the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence was held on Tuesday in Washington, D.C. 

  • Government ministers from the Quad (Japan sent Inoue Shinji, minister in charge of science and technology policy) participated in the event. They discussed emerging technologies including AI and high-speed 5G networks, areas where China is challenging the United States.

  • Eric Lander, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, said the Quad countries play a central role in emerging technologies and stressed they can cooperate on scientific themes that require multiple nations to work together.

  • In his remarks, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said AI is central to the department’s innovation agenda and that this is fundamental to the fights of the future. He stressed that the U.S. and its partners are working to advance global norms grounded in shared values.

  • Minister Inoue said cooperation on emerging technologies among the Quad is important, expressing his willingness to strengthen coordination on AI and data distribution. 

6. Foreign Policy Developments 

  • TBS reported Friday that Japan and South Korea are arranging a Suga-Moon summit to take place at the beginning of the Olympic Games.

  • It will take place if Japan revises its removal of South Korea from preferred trading partners and South Korea stabilizes the operation of the military information sharing agreement (GSOMIA) which it can scrap at any time. 

  • On the sidelines of the Japan-U.S.-South Korea deputy-level meeting next week, Japan and South Korea will hold a bilateral meeting where Vice Minister Takeo Mori is expected to ask South Korea to take the appropriate response regarding historical disagreements such as the comfort women issue.

  • Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi is traveling to Central America/the Caribbean between July 15-21 to visit Guatemala, Panama, Cuba and Jamaica

  • He will take part in online meetings with foreign ministers of countries in the Central American Integration System and the Caribbean Community

  • The minister will exchange views on responding to global issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic, disaster prevention, climate change and strengthening economic cooperation.

  • Given many countries in the region have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, Motegi is expected to also exchange views on dealing with China, which is becoming more influential in the region, and confirm the importance of a free and open international order based on the rule of law. 

  • Foreign Minister Motegi said Tuesday that the government plans to send around 11 million shots of the AstraZeneca vaccine to fifteen countries including Iran, Bangladesh, Nepal and the Pacific Island countries through the COVAX facility.

  • He also revealed that Japan is sending Indonesia, Vietnam and Taiwan around one million additional vaccine doses each on Thursday. 

  • Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters Tuesday that China is strongly dissatisfied with and firmly opposes Japan’s defense white paper.

  • He added that Japan has grossly interfered in China’s internal affairs, unreasonably condemned its normal defense and military activities, and exaggerated the Chinese threat. 

  • Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said Tuesday that the government does not plan to hold a meeting with Taiwan’s digital minister Audrey Tang when the latter is dispatched to attend the Olympic Games as a representative of Taiwan.

  • Foreign Minister Motegi issued a statement on Monday, which marked the fifth year since a legally binding Arbitral Tribunal award was issued regarding the dispute in the South China Sea between the Philippines and China. 

  • Motegi said that Japan hopes both sides comply with the decision and reiterated the government’s objection to maritime claims in the South China Sea that are inconsistent with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). 

  • Japan also restated its opposition to unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion. It will continue to work with ASEAN and other countries to maintain a rules-based maritime order and realize a free and open Indo-Pacific.

7. Defense-Related Developments 

  • Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said Friday that the ministry plans to deploy F-35B stealth jets to ASDF Nyūtabaru Air Base in Miyazaki prefecture starting 2024

  • The ministry explained to the local government on Thursday that the air base was most suitable for the deployment of the state-of-the-art stealth fighter. 

  • The U.S. and Australia were joined by Japan, the U.K., Canada, South Korea and New Zealand for their biennial Exercise Talisman Saber (July 14-July 31). The drill comes amid increasing Chinese military activities near the Taiwan Strait.

  • India, Indonesia, Germany and France are participating as observers. Japan is sending a GSDF unit specializing in remote island defense and tasked with the initial response to a contingency in the southwestern islands.

  • On Monday, two Chinese Coast Guard vessels left Japanese territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands after staying there for 47 hours and six minutes

  • This is the second longest since nationalization of the Senkaku Islands in 2012. The longest so far is 57 hours and 39 minutes recorded in October last year.

  • Two other vessels remained in the contiguous zone, right outside territorial waters. Chinese vessels have maintained a presence there for 150 consecutive days since February 13, a record-high and counting. 

  • In response to growing tensions around the islands, Japan and China are continuing discussions to open a hotline between leaders to avoid accidental clashes between the SDF and Chinese military.

Domestic Politics

8. Political Developments

  • The Constitutional Democratic Party, Communist Party, Democratic People’s Party and Social Democratic Party submitted Friday a written request to the speaker of the Lower House asking for an extraordinary Diet session to be held for a period of around two months starting before the Olympic Games.

  • They 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.

  • The opposition parties believe the Diet must be prepared to deal with extraordinary situations such as an exponential rise in COVID-19 cases, especially during the Olympic Games. 

  • The opposition also wants to question the government on its coronavirus policies, especially the recent withdrawal of the request to suspend the selling of alcohol. 

  • At a Upper House Cabinet Committee meeting on Thursday, Yasutoshi Nishimura, minister in charge of economic revitalization, expressed his intention to fulfill his responsibilities by making every effort to prevent the spread of the infection.

  • The opposition parties repeatedly demanded that Nishimura resign following his comments last week, in which he suggested the government would request financial institutions to pressure eateries into complying with rules banning the sale of alcohol during the state of emergency.

  • The government was also forced to retract a request calling on liquor distributors to stop supplying noncompliant eateries with alcohol. Both policies were met with strong pushback from the liquor selling industry and eateries alike. 

  • Weekly news magazine Shūkan Bunshun reported Thursday that LDP lawmaker Yoichi Anami had dined out for long hours and drank alcohol earlier this month while Tokyo was still under pre-emergency measures.

  • Anami dined out in a group of five for three hours, seemingly ignoring Tokyo’s request to dine in groups of less than two people and for less than ninety minutes.

  • LDP Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai announced Anami would be suspended from taking party leadership positions. Anami has already announced he will not be seeking reelection in the fall. 

  • A separate report on Friday claimed that Education Minister Koichi Hagiuda had also dined out in a group of five on July 6. His office maintains that the group complied with the rules and finished eating in 30 minutes. 

  • Akira Amari, chair of the LDP research commission on the tax system, said on Tuesday that the government should aim to form and pass the FY 2021 supplementary budget after the Lower House election in the fall.

  • The internal affairs ministry decided Tuesday that it will issue a portion of the local allocation tax to cities in Tottori and Shimane prefectures hit hard by heavy rainfall in advance on Wednesday. 

  • The local allocation tax is issued to local governments four times a year to help sustain their finances. A total of ¥4.35 billion will be sent to three cities in the two prefectures, while ¥49 million was issued on Monday to Atami city, Shizuoka, where the landslide occurred last week. 

  • Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato said Sunday that municipal governments across the country will begin accepting applications for paper vaccine passports (certificates) on July 26.

  • The government is currently negotiating with other countries to ease restrictions on Japanese travelers holding this passport. Nikkei reported Tuesday that Japan is lobbying a dozen countries including Italy and Greece to waive the quarantine period and other restrictions.

  • Japan is expected to face some difficulty as it continues to impose strict border measures even on vaccinated travelers coming into the country. The government is reportedly not in negotiations with countries including China and the U.S. 

9. State of the Economy

  • The Bank of Japan decided Friday at its monetary policy meeting that it will maintain large-scale monetary easing measures in response to the pandemic.

  • It also decided to provide yen loans to financial institutions engaged in environmentally friendly investments/loans at zero percent interest. To promote its use, the BOJ raised the interest rate on a larger portion of financial institutions’ deposits with it, making it easier to avoid the adoption of a negative interest rate. 

  • The BOJ unanimously decided to continue various asset purchases, such as purchasing up to ¥12 trillion/year in exchange-traded funds (ETFs). It also released its economic growth outlook for FY 2021, down slightly from 4 percent in April to 3.8 percent largely due to the fourth state of emergency.  

  • Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), the world’s largest chipmaker, confirmed Thursday that it is conducting “due diligence” to determine the feasibility of a chip fabrication plant in Japan. 

  • Nikkei reported earlier that the company is considering building a factory in Kumamoto to address growing demand from Sony and other major customers.

  • The labor ministry’s subcommittee of the Central Minimum Wages Council decided Wednesday that it will propose raising the average minimum hourly wage for FY 2021 by a record ¥28, or 3.1 percent from the previous year.

  • While business groups lobbied to maintain current wage levels due to the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, the committee decided to raise average wages from ¥902 to ¥930, in line with the government’s goal of achieving a ¥1,000 national average.

  • Mitsui & Co. is expected to invest a total of ¥300 billion ($2.7 billion) by 2026 in the development of new data centers and the acquisition of existing facilities. It has already joined forces with overseas investors to build three facilities in locations including Kyoto and Chiba by 2026.

  • The government views large data centers as key to promoting the adoption of 5G communication services, including big data analysis. It mentioned financial incentives to companies investing in the construction of new data centers in its economic growth strategy released in June. 

  • The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry announced Monday the estimated power generation costs in 2030 by energy sources such as nuclear power and renewables. Solar power was the cheapest energy source this time around. 

  • Compared to 2015 calculations, nuclear power has increased in cost by a yen per one kWh to ¥11, while renewables lowered costs by about four yen across the board. Nuclear power costs more due to stricter regulations, compensation for damages and the retirement of some plants.

  • These estimated costs are likely to be reflected in the Basic Energy Plan expected to be published in the summer. The government expects thermal power to cover for renewables, which are less reliable due to fluctuations in supply depending on the weather.

10. Olympic Games to Start Next Week

  • IOC President Thomas Bach requested on Wednesday that Prime Minister Suga consider letting in spectators should the coronavirus situation improve in Japan. 

  • Bach also met with Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike the next day, emphasizing that the risk of the games to residents of the Olympic Village and the Japanese people is zero.

  • However, opposition parties pointed out at a Diet session on Thursday that the so-called bubble is imperfect, with reports that those involved in the games can easily come into contact with the public, for example, at hotels during breakfast.

  • Following reports that individuals involved in the games are violating the playbook, which summarizes the rules necessary to prevent a viral spread, Olympics Minister Tamayo Marukawa revealed Thursday that she asked the organizing committee to identify these individuals and take disciplinary action

  • The organizing committee decided Thursday that athletes judged to have been in close contact with an infected person can participate in competitions if they test negative within six hours of competing. 

  • This is a special measure considering the government usually requires individuals who come into close contact with an infected person to quarantine for fourteen days.

  • IOC President Bach will travel to Hiroshima on Friday to visit the Peace Memorial Park and museum surveying the history of Hiroshima and the advent of the nuclear bomb.

  • Reports on Wednesday say arrangements are being made for the Emperor to attend the opening ceremony on July 23 and announce the opening of the Olympic Games. The Emperor will also meet IOC officials on the 22nd and state leaders on the 23rd at the Imperial Palace.

  • The White House announced Tuesday that First Lady Jill Biden will be attending the opening ceremony. This week, the Canadian government said Tuesday that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will not be traveling to Japan for the ceremony.


11. Parties Prepare for Consequential Lower House Election

  • The Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengō) signed Thursday separate policy agreements with the CDP and DPP. The sides agreed to work together to overcome the pandemic and achieve tax and finance reform. 

  • Though the policies are the same in both agreements, the CDP and DPP still disagree about forming a coalition government with the JCP should the opposition win a majority in the fall.

  • CDP leader Yukio Edano made a courtesy visit on Sunday to the home of former prime minister and Social Democratic Party leader Tomiichi Murayama. Edano expressed his determination to form a liberal government.

  • The opposition are hopeful they can win a majority of the 465 seats in the Lower House. A Nikkei report from last month indicated that the CDP and three other parties had split about 200 districts among themselves to avoid competing with one another. This is about two times more than the last election.

  • On the other hand, the LDP is rushing to fill in candidates for seats where a lawmaker is retiring or has left the party. 

  • The LDP has also begun preparing for the Upper House election next summer, selecting forty-six candidates on Wednesday that it plans to endorse

12. Intra-LDP Battles Set to Take Place in the Fall

  • The LDP must worry about intra-party battles too. Upper House lawmaker Yoshimasa Hayashi formally announced Thursday his bid to run for the 3rd district seat in Yamaguchi prefecture.

  • Hayashi is a former education minister with a wealth of experience in several ministerial positions. He is known to have ambitions to become prime minister and this latest move is viewed as another step in that direction.

  • In the highly anticipated showdown, Hayashi will take on former chief cabinet secretary and LDP heavyweight Kawamura Takeo. The incumbent is seeking an eleventh term and is a known confidant of Secretary-General Nikai

  • This race is therefore set to be a battle between the Nikai faction, which Kawamura is a part of, and the Kishida faction, which Hayashi is a part of.

  • Nikai stated last month that the party prioritizes endorsements for incumbents and went as far as to suggest Hayashi could be punished for threatening to dethrone an incumbent.

  • Meanwhile, faction leader Fumio Kishida said Thursday that he plans to support his fellow faction member, stating that Hayashi is a valuable asset for the future of the country. 

  • Defense Minister Kishi, the president of Yamaguchi’s party chapter, said Friday that he hopes arrangements can be made to avoid a competition between conservative candidates. 

Other Noteworthy News

  • Government Reverses Course on Restricting Alcohol Sales: The government decided Tuesday to retract its earlier policy requesting liquor vendors to refrain from providing alcohol to eateries that do not comply with the order to stop selling alcohol during the state of emergency. This came after the government also retracted another policy requesting financial institutions to encourage eateries it has business with to comply with the coronavirus countermeasures. Both policies were equally unpopular among eateries and liquor distributors, who argued that it would be difficult to stop transactions without adequate compensation. The problem with the latter policy was made worse when reports surfaced that several ministries and agencies had been involved in the preparation of these policies. The government’s official position until then had been that it was a misstep on the part of Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister in charge of economic revitalization. Nishimura apologized on Tuesday, stating that his explanations were lacking and caused confusion. Finance Minister Aso said the same day that the policy was never intended to pressure eateries into complying with the government’s request by threatening to cut off loans. Amidst these developments, Aso also claimed that he told his secretary at the finance ministry to ignore the document regarding the policy, saying the policy itself was absurd. Meanwhile, AERA reported Wednesday that another document was circulated among ministries over the weekend, calling on prefectures to stop giving financial aid to liquor distributors who continue transactions with noncompliant eateries. Since these reports surfaced, the government has announced new financial aid for liquor distributors with a significant reduction in profit. Minister Nishimura also said Wednesday that the government is considering some sort of request to advertisement companies that run ads of businesses that are not complying with the government’s rules. Both the LDP and Komeito remain worried that this debacle could impact the upcoming election in the fall. 

  • A Win for the LDP in the Naha City Assembly Election: The LDP is facing some troubles recently with the declaration of a fourth state of emergency, vaccine shortages and its underperformance at the Tokyo Assembly election. Good news came out of Okinawa on Sunday, where the LDP and Komeito coalition added five seats in the Naha City assembly election. In a race deemed the preliminaries ahead of the national election and the Okinawa gubernatorial election next fall, the ruling coalition came close to winning a majority in the Naha assembly. This will come as a boost for the party as it seeks to replace Governor Denny Tamaki with a pro-U.S. base governor. All Okinawa, the group backing Governor Tamaki and Naha City Mayor Mikiko Shiroma, lost a seat in the Naha assembly election. As a result, the ruling coalition and others who oppose the current leadership in Okinawa and Naha City won nineteen of the forty seats, while forces backing the leadership were held to fourteen seats

II. Public Opinion Polls

  • An NHK poll released Monday showed a 33 percent approval rating for the Suga cabinet, down 1 percent from June, and a disapproval rating of 46 percent, up 1 percent.
    • 41 percent of respondents said they disapproved of the cabinet due to a lack of leadership; 34 percent said due to low expectations for its policies; and 11 percent said due to their lack of trust in the prime minister
    • 80 percent of respondents are “somewhat” or “very” worried that they or someone in their family could contract the coronavirus, while 18 percent are “not so worried” or “not worried at all.”
    • 40 percent respondents “strongly” or “somewhat” approve of the government’s coronavirus response, up 2 percent from June, while 57 percent “somewhat” or “strongly” disapprove, down 1 percent.
    • 39 percent of respondents said they believe the 4th COVID-19 state of emergency declared in Tokyo will have a “great” or “moderate” effect on mitigating the spread of the virus, while 57 percent believe it will have “little” to “no” effect.
    • 39 percent of respondents believe the decision to hold all Olympic competitions in the greater Tokyo area without spectators is appropriate; 30 percent believe the games should still be cancelled; 22 percent believe a limited number of spectators should be allowed in; and 4 percent believe there should be no restrictions on spectators.
    • 31 percent of respondents are “very” or “somewhat” satisfied with the government and organizing committee’s explanations regarding the reason for holding the games and COVID-19 countermeasures, while 65 percent are “not very” or “not at all” convinced. 
    • 38 percent of respondents “greatly” or “somewhat” approve of the government’s border measures for athletes and other Olympics-related people coming from abroad, while 57 percent “don’t really” or “don’t” approve.
    • 46 percent of respondents said they have already been vaccinated; 32 percent said they would like to get vaccinated; 13 percent are pondering whether to get vaccinated; and 5 percent do not want to get vaccinated. 
    • 67 percent of respondents said they have checked a hazard map, which highlights areas that are affected by or are vulnerable to a particular hazard such as floods or landslides, for their residential area, while 28 percent have never checked one before.
    • 48 percent of respondents value information from the TV or radio programs when evacuating from a disaster zone; 24 percent value information from emergency communications via radio from the municipal government; and 17 percent value information from the internet or social media
  • The survey also collected data on the latest approval ratings of political parties.
Party NameApproval Rate (%)
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)35 (-1)
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 (±0)
Japanese Communist Party (JCP)3 (±0)
Social Democratic Party (SDP)0 (±0)
Reiwa Shinsengumi0 (±0)
Independents42 (+1)
Number in parenthesis shows net change from June survey
  • A Yomiuri Shimbun poll released Tuesday showed a 37 percent approval rating for the Suga cabinet, the same as June, and a disapproval rating of 53 percent, up 3 percent.
    • 41 percent of respondents said they disapproved of the cabinet due to Suga’s lack of leadership; 22 percent said due to low expectations for the cabinet’s policies; 17 percent said due to a lack of trust in Suga; and 10 percent said due to their dislike for an LDP-centered government.
    • 28 percent of respondents approve of the government’s coronavirus response, while 66 percent disapprove.
    • 36 percent of respondents approve of the government’s vaccination program, while 59 percent disapprove.
    • 38 percent of respondents believe the 4th state of emergency declared in Tokyo will help mitigate the spread of the virus, while 56 percent do not believe it will help.
    • 41 percent of respondents believe the Olympic Games should be cancelled; 40 percent believe it is right to hold most games without spectators; 17 percent believe there should be some spectators allowed in.
    • 74 percent of respondents said they will watch the Olympic Games at home, while 24 percent said they do not feel like watching it on TV.
    • 51 percent of respondents believe Suga is responsible for the LDP’s showing at the Tokyo Assembly election, in which the party won back its place as the largest party but obtained the second fewest seats in history, while 41 percent don’t believe he is responsible.
    • When asked who they plan to vote for the in the proportional block in the next election:
      • 39 percent of respondents said they plan to vote for the LDP;
      • 18 percent are undecided;
      • 10 percent for the CDP;
      • 6 percent each for Komeito, JCP and Japan Innovation Party;
      • 2 percent for the Democratic People’s Party;
      • and 1 percent for Reiwa Shinsengumi.
    • When asked which LDP lawmaker they want as the next prime minister:
      • 20 percent of respondents said Taro Kono;
      • 18 percent said Shigeru Ishiba;
      • 15 percent said Shinjiro Koizumi;
      • 14 percent said nobody;
      • 11 percent said Shinzo Abe;
      • 4 percent each said Fumio Kishida and Yoshihide Suga;
      • 2 percent each said Seiko Noda and Toshimitsu Motegi;
      • and 1 percent each said Katsunobu Kato and Yasutoshi Nishimura.
  • The survey also collected data on the latest approval ratings of political parties.
Party NameApproval Rate (%)
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)36 (+3)
Komeito (coalition partner of the LDP)4 (-1)
Constitutional Democratic Party (CDP)5 (±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 (-1)
Reiwa Shinsengumi0 (±0)
Independents43 (-5)
Number in parenthesis shows net change from June survey
  • A Jiji poll released Friday showed a 29 percent approval rating for the Suga cabinet, down 4 percent from June and the lowest since it was formed in September 2020. Disapproval was up 6 percent to 50 percent. 
    • Approval reached the “danger zone” of below 30 percent for the first time since July 2017, when the Kake scandal rocked the Abe cabinet. 
    • 23 percent of respondents approved of the government’s coronavirus response, down 1 percent from June, while 59 percent disapproved, up 4 percent.
    • 72 percent of respondents felt the vaccination program was moving slowly, while 18 percent felt it was on the right track.
    • When asked which lawmaker should be the next prime minister of Japan:
      • 14.9 percent said Shigeru Ishiba;
      • 14.5 percent said Taro Kono;
      • 8.8 percent said Shinjiro Koizumi;
      • 8.4 percent said Shinzo Abe;
      • 5 percent said Yukio Edano;
      • 3.9 percent said Yoshihide Suga;
      • 1 percent said Katsunobu Kato;
      • and 0.6 percent said Toshimitsu Motegi.
    • When LDP supporters were asked the same question:
      • 20.4 percent said Shinzo Abe;
      • 17.5 percent said Taro Kono;
      • 14.9 percent said Shigeru Ishiba;
      • 8.6 percent said Yoshihide Suga (5th overall).
  • The survey also collected data on the latest approval ratings of political parties.
Party NameApproval Rate (%)
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)21 (-1)
Komeito (coalition partner of the LDP)3 (-1)
Constitutional Democratic Party (CDP)5 (+2)
Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party)2
Democratic Party for the People (DPP)1
Japanese Communist Party (JCP)2
Social Democratic Party (SDP)0
Reiwa Shinsengumi0
Number in parenthesis shows net change from June survey

Image: Captain76 (CC BY-SA 3.0)


One thought on “The Weekly Observer: July 12-16

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