Condensed Ver. (usually around 1/2 of online ver.)
I. News of the Week
Useful COVID-19 Resources (most are updated daily):
- State of emergency and pre-emergency information: Cabinet Secretariat, “Emergency,” https://corona.go.jp/emergency/
- Vaccination stats and other useful information: Prime Minister’s Office of Japan, “About COVID-19,” https://www.kantei.go.jp/jp/headline/kansensho/vaccine.html (ENG page also available)
- Comparing vaccine stats from around the world: “Charting coronavirus vaccinations around the world,” Nihon Keizai Shimbun, https://vdata.nikkei.com/newsgraphics/coronavirus-vaccine-status/ (ENG available)
- COVID-19 daily case tally (prefecture-level data): “Special Website: COVID-19 (Tokusetsu Saito: Shingata Koronauirusu),” NHK, https://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/special/coronavirus/data/
- Tokyo’s case tally and hospital occupancy rate: Tokyo Metropolitan Government, “Latest Infection Trends in Tokyo (Tonai no Saishin Kansen Dōkō),” https://stopcovid19.metro.tokyo.lg.jp/
1. Case Numbers Soar and “Delta” Variant Becomes Dominant Strain
- On Thursday, 5,381 new cases were confirmed nationwide, topping 5,000 for the first time in two months. There were 392 patients with severe symptoms.
- Tokyo recorded 1,979 cases, an increase of 671 cases from Thursday last week. Kanagawa (631) and Saitama (510) topped 600 and 500 cases respectively for the first time in more than half a year (January).
- In Tokyo, those in their twenties accounted for the most cases overall at 658. Those in their twenties and thirties currently account for more than half the total. Data predicts nearly 60 percent of total cases in Tokyo are the “delta” variant, thought to have a stronger transmissibility rate.
- NHK reported Wednesday that almost 80 percent of hospitalized patients at university hospitals with severe symptoms in the greater Tokyo area, mostly below the age of fifty, are contracting the “delta” variant (Indian).
- Data presented at Wednesday’s health ministry COVID-19 advisory board meeting showed that case numbers nationwide rapidly increased 1.53 times in the week leading up to Tuesday compared to the previous week.
- Case numbers continue to increase at a rapid pace across the country: Hyogo (1.94 times compared to last week), Osaka (1.89), Saitama (1.87), Kyoto (1.74), Okinawa (1.67), Hokkaido (1.54), Fukuoka (1.53), Tokyo (1.49), Chiba (1.39) and Kanagawa (1.38).
- Cases per 100,000 people also reached “Stage Four” (highest alert level: 25 cases per 100,000 people) in the last week in Tokyo (59.33 cases), Okinawa (38.47), Kanagawa (33.20), Saitama (26.93) and Chiba (26.67).
2. Government Looking Ahead to Post-State of Emergency
- As Japan enters a “fifth wave” of cases, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga reiterated on Tuesday that the government will continue to promote vaccination while suppressing a spike in cases by focusing countermeasures on eateries.
- However, case numbers under current countermeasures are rapidly rising especially in the Tokyo area. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s expert panel expects more than 2,400 new cases a day on a seven-day average in August.
- Other experts expect more cases. Kyoto University professor Hiroshi Nishiura’s calculations show that if cases increase at 1.3 times the current pace, Tokyo will reach 3,000 cases a day on August 7 and 5,235 cases on August 21.
- Even with neighboring Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba reaching figures that warrant expanding the target area for the state of emergency, the government is reluctant to do so given the economic impact restricting activities will have.
- In fact, Sankei reported Saturday that the government will consider relaxing countermeasures after the end of the state of emergency on August 22. It believes enough people will be vaccinated to gradually permit large-scale events to take place.
- A new, promising drug could help reduce the number of patients with severe symptoms. On Monday, the health ministry approved Chugai Pharmaceutical Company’s antibody cocktail for 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.
- Due to limited supply, it will only be used for hospitalized elderly patients with mild to moderate symptoms and others with underlying health conditions at risk of symptoms turning severe.
3. Government Working to Resolve Supply Shortage
- Prime Minister Suga held a breakfast meeting on Friday with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla. The two exchanged views on the stable supply of vaccines going forward.
- The defense ministry announced Wednesday that the SDF-operated mass vaccination sites will remain open a month longer than the current end date until September 25.
- The ministry made this decision to ensure people receiving their first vaccination in the coming weeks can get their second shot at the same vaccination site.
- Vaccine czar Taro Kono said Wednesday that the government expects to distribute vaccines to workplace and university vaccination sites that have already completed their applications during August.
- He added that the government is not ready to resume accepting new applications to set up mass vaccination sites.
- Kono also said that the government will distribute enough vaccines to inoculate 80 percent of individuals above the age of 12 twice by early October.
- Health Minister Norihisa Tamura announced Tuesday that Japan signed a contract with Moderna and Takeda Pharmaceutical Company to receive an additional 50 million doses of the Moderna vaccine as early as the start of next year.
- Japan is already set to receive 50 million doses by the end of September for mass vaccination sites and workplace vaccination. Tamura explained that the additional doses may be used to inoculate those who received two shots with a third shot.
- The government will receive around 220 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines by the end of September. Minister Kono stressed on Sunday that there will be enough supply for everyone who wants to get vaccinated.
- On Saturday, Prime Minister Suga moved forward his goal for completely inoculating all individuals who desire to get vaccinated from sometime between October and November to between October and early November.
- He added that he hoped 50 percent of the population will receive their first vaccination by the end of July. As of July 15, 32 percent of the population had received their first shot.
Foreign & Defense Policy
4. Japan-U.S. Relations
- Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi had a phone call with Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday. The two discussed a range of global issues from Cuba to China to the pandemic and agreed to lead efforts to achieve a free and open Indo-Pacific.
- On Wednesday, Japan, the U.S. and South Korea held their first deputy-level meeting since October 2017 in Tokyo. Participants were Vice Foreign Minister Takeo Mori, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and First Vice Minister Choi Jong Kun.
- They discussed the shared commitment to work toward the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and their intent to address the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile program.
- Japan received the support of the two countries in cooperating on the abduction issue. The sides also exchanged views on efforts to achieve a free and open Indo-Pacific, as well as regional issues such as Chinese activities in the East and South China Seas, the Taiwan Strait and Myanmar.
- Vice Foreign Minister Mori and Deputy Secretary Sherman also held a bilateral meeting, in which the two agreed to strengthen the alliance and work together closely on global issues from achieving FOIP to the coronavirus response.
- The two also confirmed strong opposition to Chinese unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East and South China Seas, as well as the importance of preserving peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.
- Deputy Secretary Sherman also made a courtesy call to Minister of Defense Nobuo Kishi the same day.
- Takeo Akiba, the new national security secretariat (NSS) secretary-general, had his first phone call with National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Tuesday. The two agreed to work closely with each other, the Quad and other like-minded countries to respond to the various regional and global issues they face today.
5. Foreign Minister Returns from Trip to Central America and the Caribbean
- Foreign Minister Motegi ended his trip to Central America and the Caribbean on Wednesday. Motegi visited Guatemala, Panama and Jamaica but cancelled his trip to Cuba following a rise in coronavirus cases there.
- Motegi also participated in meetings with foreign ministers of member-states from the Central American Integration System and the Caribbean Community.
- In a press conference on Tuesday, Motegi said that one of the main purposes of the trip was to share the recognition of the importance of a free and open world order and confirm cooperation toward this end.
- He added that he was able to explain Japan’s approach and efforts to achieve a free and open Indo-Pacific. The Central American/Caribbean countries also shared grave concerns over unilateral attempts to change the status quo. Reports suggest this was aimed at raising concerns over the rising influence of China in the region.
6. Foreign Policy Developments
- The foreign ministry announced Thursday that Japan will send Iran around 2.9 million vaccine doses through the COVAX facility. The first batch of about 1.1 million doses is scheduled to be sent out on Thursday.
- The government will send 2,800 oxygen concentrators to Indonesia, which currently faces a rapid rise in coronavirus cases, by mid-next month. It will also send 700 oxygen concentrators to Myanmar.
- The government is supporting efforts to bring Japanese expatriates back from Indonesia by exempting chartered flights operated by domestic airlines from limits placed on international arrivals. As of Wednesday, a total of 370 Japanese nationals in Indonesia have tested positive.
- On Wednesday, Vice Foreign Minister Mori held a bilateral meeting with South Korea’s First Vice Minister Choi Jong Kun. The two sides failed to reach an agreement on resolving the disagreement over historical issues including the comfort women and wartime labor.
- Yasutoshi Nishimura, minister in charge of economic revitalization, revealed at a press conference on Wednesday that Peru will become the eighth signatory state of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) in the second half of September.
- Nishimura added that he hopes Malaysia, Brunei and Chile ratify the trade agreement soon. Japan holds the presidency and is leading negotiations with the U.K. for its accession to the CPTPP. With the U.K., the deal will cover 16 percent of world GDP.
- At a meeting held by the LDP Foreign Affairs Division and others on Tuesday, some lawmakers called on the government to diplomatically boycott the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics over the alleged human rights violations in Xinjiang.
- Last Thursday, U.K. lawmakers voted in favor of a legally non-binding motion to call on the government to diplomatically boycott the Beijing Olympics unless alleged atrocities in Xinjiang are ended. The European Parliament made a similar move two weeks ago.
- The Blue House announced on Monday that South Korean President Moon Jae-in is cancelling his trip to Japan for the opening ceremony of the Olympics because a summit with Suga would not deliver sufficient results.
- The two countries are still at a stalemate regarding disagreements over historical issues including the comfort women and wartime labor.
- Japan-South Korea relations took a step back again after reports surfaced that Hirohisa Soma, deputy chief of mission at the Japanese embassy in Seoul, told reporters that President Moon is in a tug-of-war only with himself over frayed ties between the two countries, using a sexually explicit expression.
- Reports suggest the government is contemplating Soma’s reassignment following the inappropriate remark.
- Last Friday, the APEC Economic leaders issued a joint statement following their meeting. It mentioned the need to accelerate equitable access to safe, effective, quality-assured, and affordable COVID-19 vaccines.
- It also reiterated the importance of economic policies, cooperation and growth that contribute to tackling climate change and other serious environmental challenges, as well as promoting sustainable financing and quality infrastructure development and investment.
- The leaders agreed to foster digital transformation and the reaffirmed the importance of a free, open, fair, non-discriminatory, transparent and predictable trade and investment environment.
- At the meeting, Prime Minister Suga said that as the world reaches a critical juncture in its fight with the pandemic, countries should reaffirm the importance of multilateralism and strengthen cooperation for a hopeful future.
- Suga added that realizing a free and open, rules-based world order is important, and committed to strategically promote efforts to achieve such a world order.
7. Defense-Related Developments
- China, reportedly in response to increasing U.S. activities around Taiwan, conducted several military exercises around the Taiwan Strait last week.
- Chinese media reported that last Tuesday, the PLA Navy conducted a naval blockade drill. The exercise could involve a live ammunition drill until July 21 in waters off the coast of Zhejiang, which is about 250 kilometers north of Taiwan.
- The military also reportedly conducted on July 16 a joint land-sea landing training off the coast of Fujian, which directly faces Taiwan.
- These exercises come as Japan’s defense white paper mentioned for the first time that “stabilizing the situation surrounding Taiwan is important for Japan’s security and the stability of the international community.”
- It also comes after U.S. military aircraft landed in Taiwan on July 15 to transport supplies and the U.S. held Exercise Talisman Saber with Australia, Japan and others in waters around Australia.
- Former prime minister Shinzo Abe spoke with former national security adviser H.R. McMaster for a Hoover Institution event on Wednesday. There, Abe said Japan must strengthen its defense capabilities to send a message to China that its actions are unproductive, which will ultimately avert a conflict with Beijing.
- At the Japan-U.K. defense ministers meeting on Tuesday, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told Minister Kishi that the U.K. will permanently deploy two patrol vessels to the Indo-Pacific following the deployment of a carrier strike group led by HMS Queen Elizabeth.
- The two ministers confirmed that the aircraft carrier will dock at the U.S. naval base in Yokosuka during its visit to Japan in September. Other ships in the fleet will make port calls at MSDF bases in Yokosuka, Maizuru and Kure, along with the U.S. Navy’s Sasebo base and its White Beach facility in Okinawa.
- The defense ministry announced Tuesday that Japan had scrambled its aircraft 30,000 times between 1958 and July 19, 2021. It notes that the timespan at which aircraft had scrambled for the 10,000 time, 20,000 time and 30,000 time had shortened from 25 years to 15 years.
8. Political Developments
- The government announced Wednesday that its vaccine passport can be used in seven countries including Italy and South Korea (which will require separate documents to qualify for relaxed measures).
- The foreign ministry looks to expand the number of countries accepting the vaccine passport. European countries are expected to accept it, while it looks to be more difficult in the U.S., which has separate requirements by state, and China.
- The LDP and CDP agreed on Wednesday to hold an out-of-session examination (heikaichū shinsa) next Wednesday and Thursday in the Cabinet Committee of both Houses to discuss the country’s coronavirus response. The opposition want to question the government’s lax coronavirus countermeasures for the Olympics too.
- The LDP and Komeito’s secretary-general/diet affairs committee chair meeting was held on Tuesday, in which the four senior lawmakers agreed to arrange the establishment of a new liaison council with the government.
- Komeito pointed out that the government did not explain in advance its since-retracted policy banning eateries from selling alcohol, requesting the liaison council be used for better communication between the sides.
- The LDP argued that the liaison council would help inform the government on local opinions regarding vaccination and other issues.
- CDP leader Yukio Edano criticized the government on Sunday, stating that the ruling coalition was violating the constitution by ignoring the opposition’s request to hold a Diet session.
- The opposition invoked Article 53, which says the cabinet must hold a session if a quarter or more of total members of either House requests a session. The ruling coalition maintains that out-of-session examination will suffice.
9. State of the Economy
- Nikkei reported Wednesday that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), the world’s largest chipmaker, is finalizing a decision to begin operating its first chip plant in Japan as early as 2023.
- The new facility in Kumamoto will be able to produce around 40,000 wafers per month using 28-nanometer technology, which is widely used for multiple types of chips including image processors and microcontroller units for automotive applications and consumer electronics.
- The plant is expected to be mainly used to make image sensors for Sony, TSMC’s largest Japanese customer.
- The Cabinet Office revealed on Wednesday its new calculations for Japan’s primary balance. According to the results, even assuming high growth rates continue, primary balance will be achieved in FY 2027, two years later than the government’s target.
- The Cabinet Office pushed forward its estimate from 2029 (Jan. estimate) to 2027 after tax revenue last year was revealed to be higher than previously anticipated.
- The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry released on Wednesday a draft of the government’s “Basic Energy Plan” to be revised over the summer.
- In it, the government raises the ratio of renewable energy in 2030’s energy mix from the current 22-24 percent to 36-38 percent. It maintained the ratio of nuclear energy at 20-22 percent, while reducing thermal by 15 percent.
- Low-carbon sources such as renewables and nuclear will make up 59 percent of the energy mix under the new draft, up 15 percent from the current plan.
10. Olympic Games Officially Commence
- The opening ceremony of the Olympic Games was held on Friday night at the New National Stadium in Tokyo. Emperor Naruhito declared the games open.
- While the English version remained the same as other years, the Japanese version did not use the term “celebrating (the Games)” (iwai), as it was taken out by the organizing committee which took into consideration the fact that many people are suffering due to the pandemic. It instead used “commemorating” (kinen suru).
- Reports surfaced Friday that the organizing committee is moving to reward former prime minister Yoshiro Mori, who resigned as committee president after making derogatory comments about women, with the title of honorary supreme adviser for his contributions to helping host the games.
- Jiji reports some within the government are concerned about the backlash it could face after several Olympic-related personnel left this week over offensive remarks.
- The organizing committee announced on Friday morning that a total of 106 Olympic-related coronavirus cases have been confirmed. There were 19 cases on Friday, the most confirmed in a single day.
- Several big names will be missing from the opening ceremony, presumably to avoid the negative image the Olympics could have on them.
- As of Thursday, former prime minister Abe, the chairpersons of the three largest business lobbies (Japan Business Federation, Japan Association of Corporate Executives and Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry) and approximately two-thirds of sponsors—including major sponsors Toyota, Panasonic and Asahi—are expected to not be in attendance at the ceremony.
- Emperor Naruhito met IOC President Thomas Bach on Thursday, saying that managing the games while taking coronavirus countermeasures is far from an easy task. He added that he “would like to pay tribute to all those who have been involved in the management of the games for their efforts at various venues.”
- Prime Minister Suga said Wednesday that if the coronavirus situation improves, he hopes to have spectators in attendance for the Paralympic Games which start on August 24. Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi made the same statement on Sunday.
- In an interview with the Wall Street Journal published on Tuesday, Suga defended his decision to hold the games during a pandemic, saying Japan has a fraction of the coronavirus cases of Western countries and is more disciplined in preventing infections.
- He added that it is easier to cancel the games and stressed that it is the government’s role to take on challenges.
- Following reports that media personnel left their hotels and went to tourist spots around Tokyo, the government and organizing committee plan to clarify the rules regarding activities outside Olympic-related facilities.
- According to the new guidelines, if an individual is found violating travel rules, the athlete or team will be warned. If violations persist, individuals will be placed under the supervision of the organizing committee for up to 14 days. In the worst cases, individuals could be fined or disqualified.
- Meanwhile, Tokyo Shimbun reported Thursday that an internal manual produced by the organizing committee states that it will selectively warn individuals who do not show up to conduct the required testing for the coronavirus. This means some individuals could slip between the cracks and spread the virus.
- This week was not without another pair of issues. On Thursday, Kentaro Kobayashi, the show director of the opening ceremony, was dismissed after footage from the 1990s showed him making jokes about the Holocaust.
- On Monday, composer Keigo Oyamada, also known as Cornelius, resigned following reports that he had revealed in magazine interviews from more than twenty years ago that he bullied classmates with disabilities at school.
11. Suga’s “Olympics Diplomacy” Begins
- Prime Minister Suga began “Olympics diplomacy” by receiving First Lady Jill Biden among other high profile visits on Thursday.
- Besides the first lady, Suga met with Mongolian Prime Minister Luvsannamsrain Oyun-Erdene, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi and Vice President Rebecca Nyandeng de Mabior of South Sudan.
- Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said Wednesday that leaders from about 15 countries and international organizations, as well as sports minister-level officials from about 70 countries will be arriving in Japan for the Olympics.
- Suga’s “Olympics diplomacy” will continue until Saturday, with a meeting with President Emmanuel Macron of France, the country hosting the next Olympic Games set to take place.
- Taiwan announced Sunday that Audrey Tang, its digital minister, will not be traveling to Japan after the government decided to limit the number of individuals allowed to attend the opening ceremony due to the pandemic.
- The organizing committee held a welcome party on Sunday for IOC President Bach and other officials. Prime Minister Suga, Organizing Committee President Seiko Hashimoto, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, former president of the organizing committee Yoshiro Mori were among the 40 individuals at the party.
12. Suga Prepares for “Double Election” in the Fall
- Of the 289 single-member districts (SMDs) in the upcoming Lower House election, the LDP has already decided on 260 of the 280 candidates it plans to field. It will leave nine districts to Komeito, its coalition partner.
- Meanwhile, the opposition is also deciding on its candidates: the Constitutional Democratic Party has decided on 211 candidates, the Communist Party on 124, the Japan Innovation Party on 64, the Democratic People’s Party on 21, Reiwa Shinsengumi on 20 and the Social Democratic Party on ten candidates.
- The CDP and JCP are competing for 70 seats at the moment, but the parties will continue arrangements to unify behind a single candidate as much as possible.
- Yomiuri reported that of the 176 seats up for grabs in the proportional representation block, 74 candidates that are not running in the SMDs have been announced as official party candidates.
- The CDP, the largest opposition party, looks to field at least 233 candidates for the 465 seats to take a majority in the Lower House. Yomiuri reports that the CDP is keen on working with the JCP due to its voting block, which garners around 15,000-20,000 votes per SMD.
- The strength of the voting block was apparent in the Tokyo Assembly election, where the JCP won more seats than the CDP, while all four DPP candidates backed by the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo) lost.
- The DPP and Rengo, the traditional support organization for the CDP (formerly DPJ), opposes forming a coalition government with the Communist Party.
- Prime Minister Suga indicated on a TV program last Friday that he will announce his reelection bid for the LDP presidency “when the time comes.”
- LDP Acting Secretary-General Seiko Noda said the same day that she is interested in running for the presidency, showing confidence that she can win over the vote of women in the party.
13. LDP Set for Possibly Tough Fall Election
- The LDP has started filling candidates for the seats held by retiring politicians. Many are second-generation politicians who have a more solid base and thus a better chance of winning in an election that the LDP increasingly feels will be a challenging one.
- On Tuesday, the LDP’s senior leadership decided on the candidates it will endorse for the Mie 2nd district and Ehime 1st district elections. Both candidates are the sons of the retiring lawmakers, ex-health minister Jiro Kawasaki and ex-chief cabinet secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki.
- Elsewhere, retiring LDP Election Strategy Chair Taimei Yamaguchi’s son will be running for his father’s seat in Saitama’s 10th district.
- The LDP’s Kanagawa prefectural branch decided Wednesday that it will not endorse a candidate for the prefecture’s first district, which is held by Jun Matsumoto, the lawmaker who left the party after reports emerged that he had visited clubs in Ginza during the state of emergency.
- The Aso faction, which Matsumoto was a part of, is calling on the party to allow him back into the party before the election. However, the party is reluctant to given the backlash it could face at the polls for doing so.
- The LDP also faces a high-profile intra-party battle in Yamaguchi’s 3rd district. Upper House lawmaker and ex-education minister Yoshimasa Hayashi will challenge ex-chief cabinet secretary Takeo Kawamura for the seat.
- Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai, who happens to lead the faction Kawamura is part of, said Tuesday that the party will decide on which of the two to endorse after listening to who the local party members want as their candidate.
- Some lawmakers are also making the jump to local politics. Last month, National Public Safety Commission Chairperson Hachiro Okonogi resigned to run for Yokohama City mayor set in August.
- Ex-education minister Hiroshi Hase joins him as another ministerial level lawmaker who will run for a local government office. Hase announced on Monday that he will be running for Kanazawa City (Ishikawa) mayor in the election in March 2022.
Other Noteworthy News
- Candidate Backed by LDP and Ishin Wins Hyogo Governor Race: Sunday’s race for the governorship of Hyogo was the first one in twenty years that newcomers fought for an open seat. Incumbent Governor Toshizo Ido had served for five terms before announcing last December that he would not be seeking reelection. Even before the announcement, Ido made moves to get the LDP to back his former deputy governor Kazuo Kanagawa, but to no avail. In the end, the LDP remained divided on who to endorse and ended up backing two candidates. The party headquarters backed Motohiko Saito, an independent endorsed by the Japan Innovation Party (Nippon Ishin no Kai) which has its primary support base in Osaka, a neighbor of Hyogo. Party leadership from both parties, including Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura, all came to support Saito and drew in votes. Unlike these national figures, a large portion of local LDP lawmakers decided to back Ido’s preferred candidate. At stump speeches on the campaign trail, Ido himself strongly criticized the Saito camp, asking voters whether it was alright for Tokyo to be dominating local politics. He added criticism of Ishin by saying Saito would be selling Hyogo out to Osaka. By the end of the day, it was clear that Saito’s pledge to renew the local government was more appealing than Kanagawa’s plan for the prefecture. He ended up winning by more than 250,000 votes and is the new governor of Hyogo. Saito is now tied with Chiba Governor Toshihito Kumagai as the second youngest governor in the country. Although a local race, the splintered support among LDP headquarters and the local chapter ahead of a consequential national election raises some concerns about the ability of the party to come together to maintain its majority in the Lower House.
II. Public Opinion Polls
- An Asahi Shimbun poll released Monday showed a 31 percent approval rating for the Suga cabinet, down 3 percent from June, and a disapproval rating of 49 percent, up 7 percent.
- 26 percent of respondents approve of the government’s coronavirus measures, down 6 percent from June, while 65 percent disapprove, up 10 percent.
- 33 percent of respondents believe the fourth state of emergency in Tokyo will have a “great” or “somewhat great” effect on mitigating the spread of the virus, while 66 percent believe it will have “little” to “no” effect.
- 51 percent of respondents said the debacle over the government’s policies banning the sale of liquor heightened distrust for the Suga Cabinet, while 45 percent said it wasn’t that impactful.
- 54 percent of respondents “strongly” (7→6) or “somewhat strongly” (54→47) approve the government’s vaccination program, while 44 percent “somewhat” (30→33) or “strongly” (8→11) disapprove.
- 63 percent of respondents believe the government is largely responsible for the temporary stop on vaccine reservations at local municipalities and workplaces due to a supply shortage, while 32 percent believe it isn’t entirely at fault.
- 33 percent of respondents support the decision to hold the Olympic Games, while 55 percent oppose it.
- 76 percent of respondents say it is good that most venues will hold competitions without spectators, while 17 percent say it was not a good decision.
- 21 percent of respondents believe the Olympic/Paralympic Games will be “safe and secure” like Suga said, while 68 percent believe it won’t be.
- 56 percent of respondents want to watch the Olympics at home, while 41 percent don’t really want to.
- 12 percent of respondents are planning a trip or return home for the summer holiday, while 87 percent are not planning one.
- 54 percent of respondents want Suga to continue as prime minister until the end of his term as LDP president in September; 27 percent want him to step down now; and 14 percent want him to continue beyond his term.
- When asked who they plan to vote for the in the proportional block in the next election:
- 34 percent of respondents said they plan to vote for the LDP (down 1 percent from June);
- 24 percent are undecided or don’t know (up 1 percent);
- 14 percent for the CDP (same);
- 8 percent for the Japan Innovation Party (up 1 percent);
- 6 percent each for Komeito (down 1 percent) and JCP (up 1 percent);
- 4 percent for other parties (up 1 percent);
- 2 percent for Reiwa Shinsengumi (same);
- And 1 percent each for the DPP (down 2 percent) and SDP (same).
- The survey also collected data on the latest approval ratings of political parties.
|Party Name||Approval Rate (%)|
|Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)||30 (-1)|
|Komeito (coalition partner of the LDP)||3 (-1)|
|Constitutional Democratic Party (CDP)||6 (±0)|
|Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party)||1 (-1)|
|Democratic Party for the People (DPP)||0 (-1)|
|Japanese Communist Party (JCP)||3 (±0)|
|Social Democratic Party (SDP)||0 (±0)|
|Reiwa Shinsengumi||0 (±0)|
- A Mainichi Shimbun poll released Sunday showed a 30 percent approval rating for the Suga cabinet, down 4 percent from June, and a disapproval rating of 62 percent, up 7 percent and the worst since it was formed in September.
- 19 percent of respondents approve of the government’s coronavirus response, while 63 percent disapprove.
Image: Captain76 (CC BY-SA 3.0)