• 17 Aug 2018 by Global Chamber Tokyo

    1.     Abe-Ishiba Showdown Expected In September


    Rep. Shigeru Ishiba, former LDP Secretary-General held a press conference on the 10th of August and announced to run for the party presidency election to be held in September.

    He also raised the following campaign promises:


    1. Implement “Honest and fair politics” to solve financial and social security issues(implying criticism against PM Abe’s uncleared involvement in some government decision-related scandals)
    2. Establish “A First 100 Day Plan” and gain back public trust by implementing it
    3. No rush in amending the Article 9 of the Constitution
    4. Come up with a vision for social and economic development in 30 years to come


    The media is suggesting that there will be no other serious candidates, thus the September election will be fought between PM Abe and Rep. Ishiba on a head-on basis.

    As reported before, PM Abe keeps a vast majority of LDP’s Diet members’ support, while Rep. Ishiba is trying to secure a majority of the support of the party members throughout Japan.


    2.     Japan-US Trade Negotiation


    A Cabinet Member class new trade negotiation between Japan and the United States was held for the first time on August 9 and 10 in Washington, DC.

    From Japan, Rep. Mogi, Minister in charge of Economic Revitalization led the delegation, while Mr. Lighthizer, USTR headed the U.S. team.

    Although the two reached basic agreement to enlarge mutual trade amount and to cooperate with each other in jointly responding China’s compulsory technology transfer demand and IP infringement, the Japanese side reportedly requested that the United States reconsider coming back to the TPP member position, while the U.S. side demanded a bilateral trade agreement between the two nations expecting for more opening of Japan’s agricultural products market.  

    The Japanese side is concerned about the U.S. Government’s unilateral imposition of an additional customs duty on Japanese automobiles.


    3.     40th Anniversary of The JapanChina Treaty of Peace and Friendship


    August 12 marked the 40th anniversary of the Japan-China Treaty of Peace and Friendship.

    PM Abe and PM Li Keqiang exchanged a congratulatory telegram on the same day.

    The diplomatic relationship between the two nations was bottomed when Japan announced the nationalization of the Senkaku Archipelagos in 2012.

    A diplomatic thaw has been being felt since PM Abe expressed his willingness to cooperate with the Chinese large economic zone concept “One belt one road” in June last year.

    PM Li Keqiang visited Japan in May this year and it was the first Chinese premier visit since 7 years ago.

    PM Abe is expected to visit Beijing in October or at the time of next Japan-China-Korea premier meeting.

    Reportedly, Chinese President Xi Jinping may visit Japan June next year when G20 is held in Osaka.

    The media reports that the recent U.S.-China trade battle and other contentious exchanges between the two countries are making China reconsider stabilizing its diplomatic relationship with Japan.


    4.     April-June GDP Growth 1.9%


    The Cabinet Office announced on August 10th that the 2nd quarter (April – June ) GDP increased by 1.9% in real term on an annually converted basis from the previous quarter.

    The office said that the increase is attributable to personal consumption’s growth.

    The 1st quarter recognized the first negative growth after 9 consecutive quarterly growths, but it seems the minus was contained in that particular quarter.


    5.  Yamate Line’s Automatic Operations Being Studied


    Yomiuri reported that JR East organized a project team to study the feasibility of eliminating motormen of the Yamate Line and Tohoku Shinkansen by introducing automatic train running systems.

    Train cars should be equipped with sophisticated sensors to sense foreign objects on the rail track and platforms and other train running infrastructures need to have some mechanism to keep away foreign objects and secure safety.

    In its first phase, only a conductor will ride on the train so that he or she can respond to any emergency situations.

  • 03 Aug 2018 by Global Chamber Tokyo

    1.     PM Abe’s Approval Rating Unchanged


    Yomiuri’s monthly survey, which was conducted on July 21 and 22, found the Abe Cabinet’s approval rating remained unchanged from the previous month at 45%.

    Its disapproval rating was 45% (44% last month).

    Abe Cabinet’s approval rating was bottomed in April, and then it went up through May and June.

    Political parties’ approval ratings are as follows:

    LDP      41% (38% last month)

    CDPJ*  8% (6%)

    Independent 41% (44%)

    *Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan


    Following is the popularity ranking of the potential candidates for the next Prime Minister:

    29% Rep. Shinjiro Koizumi

    26% PM Abe

    22% Rep. Shigeru Ishiba

    4%   Minister Seiko Noda

    3%   Rep. Fumio Kishida

    3%   Minister Taro Kono


    2.     PM Abe’s 3rd Term As Party President Likely


    Former Foreign Minister and the chairman of the LDP Policy Research Council Fumio Kishida held a press conference on July 24 and announced that he would not run for the party president election scheduled in September.

    This is forming the next party president election almost a head-on competition between PM Abe for his 3rd term and Rep. Shigeru Ishiba for his second candidacy of the PM office although Ms. Seiko Noda, Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications might run for it.

    Reportedly, PM Abe and his faction (94 members) successfully collected the commitment of support (vote) from the Aso faction (59 members), Nikai faction (44 members), and once the Kishida faction follows the suit, PM Abe’s support would be able to share around 60% of the Diet members votes of the LDP. 

    Rep. Ishiba would have to collect the local party members’ support more aggressively, but it might be difficult to make a significant difference locally especially after PM Abe’s presence in local areas for disaster relief and other opportunities is enhanced these days.

    LDP originally had the rule to limit the president in power to two terms, but thanks to PM Abe’s high popularity, it was extended to three terms.

    There is no term limit for Prime Minister as long as he or she is a House of Representative member and elected by the votes of the house.  If PM Abe is elected as the party president, he could be in the PM office up to September 2021 as long as his party stays in the ruling party position.


    3.     Integrated Resort (IR) Law Passed


    Integrated Resort Law passed the Diet on July 20 and became a law.

    The Abe Administration positions integrated resorts as a key pillar of Japan’s growth strategy after the Tokyo Olympic Games of 2020.

    Under this law, Japan’s first IR will begin its operation in as early as 2023.

    The law legalizes gambling, which had been a criminal act under the Criminal Law.

    The new law places the following limit at this moment:


    The maximum number of IR sites in Japan: 3

    Japanese guests have to pay 6,000 yen ($55) for casino admission every time.

    The maximum number of casino admission by Japanese per person: 3 times per week and 10 times per month

    Operators of casinos have to pay a 30% share of the total revenue to the local and national governments.


    4.     2020 Tokyo Olympic Games Approaching Within 2 years


    The countdown of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games’ opening marked the just-2 years-to-go point on July 24.

    The Tokyo Olympic Organizing Members Committee announced on the 20th the outline of admission tickets as follows:


    Opening ceremony:      from 12,000 yen up to 300,000 yen

    Closing ceremony:        from 12,000 yen up to 220,000

    Baseball games:           from   4,000 yen up to   67,500

    Basketball games:        from   3,000 yen up to 108,000

    Soccer games:             from   2,500 yen up to   67,500

    Swimming:                    from   5,800 yen up to 108,000

    Track and field:             from   3,000 yen up to 130,000


    The committee also decided to advance the marathon race hours to earlier time in the morning considering the recent trend of terrible heat in summer.



    I have received questions from a Japanese client about the U.S. position with regard to a cashless society such as by when and how the U.S. Government could possibly stop the circulation of cash in the U.S. and how the stakeholders including commercial industries take an initiative to lead such a transition concretely.

    If you happen to know whether or not there is a government official schedule to achieve a cashless society or any other information related to these topics, I would appreciate your sharing of it with me a lot.

  • 13 Jul 2018 by Global Chamber Tokyo

    1.     Western Japan Devastated By Heavy Rain


    Record high volume of rain caused many landslides of mountains and floods of rivers in the western area of Japan in the last weekend.

    The Meteorological Agency had forecasted that it would be a monster rain of once-in-several-decades and had warned the residents of the western region to evacuate from home beforehand if they were living close to rivers, valleys or slopes of mountains.

    Almost six days passed, it revealed that 188 people were killed either by the floods or landslides and 72 people were still missing as of the evening of the 12th of July.

    Hiroshima, Okayama and Ehime Prefectures suffered from the disaster most although 12 other western prefectures including Kyushu and Shikoku regions recognized the casualty of their residents.

    There are now 7,085 evacuees and 24,150 houses are either broken or damaged.

    The Abe Administration decided to call up Ready Reserve Self Defense Force Officials besides the local Ground Self Defense Force members to provide the local people in need with life-line support and fix the damaged roads, bridges and other infrastructures.


    2.     Aum Death Rows Executed


    The seven condemned criminals of a Japanese cult group by the name of Aum Shinrikyo were executed on the 6th of July, Justice Minister Kamikawa announced to the public on the same day.

    The seven death rows were recognized as ringleaders of the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway and some other mass murder cases killing 29 people in total.

    Shoko Asahara (real name is Chizuo Matsumoto) founded this cult group in 1984.

    At its peak time, the number of believers reached 15,000 in Japan and 35,000 in Russia.

    Although Aum Shinrikyo itself stopped activity in 1999, the Public Safety Intelligence Agency and the National Police Agency are closely watching some derivative groups out of Aum Shinrikyo.


    3.     Japan-China Military Protocol Mechanism


    In order to avoid accidental conflict between the Chinese military forces and the Japan Self Defense Forces around the Senkaku Archipelago, the two governments created an ocean-air military protocol mechanism a month ago. 

    It opened direct communication between Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force’s ships and Chinese Navy’s ships as well as JASDF’s aircraft and Chinese Air Force’s aircraft.

    It, however, has not opened a hotline between the top leaders of the two forces yet.

    China stiffened its attitude against Japan when Japan announced its nationalization of the Senkaku Archipelago in 2012, and the diplomatic relationship between the two nations had been sour and deactivated.

    With its own global and geopolitical agenda in mind, Chinese Communist Party’s leaders are recently changing the attitude against Japan and reactivating several fronts including diplomacy, trade, economy and cultural exchanges.

    How this thaw leads to mitigating the tension between the two nations around the Senkaku Islands is yet to be seen.


    4.     Population Declined By 370,000


    The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications announced on the 11th that Japan’s population declined by 374,055 to 125,209,603 as of January 1, 2018 in comparison with a year ago.

    Japan’s population peaked out in 2009 and since then, it has been declining consistently.

    Among the 47 prefectures, Hokkaido declined most, followed by Hyogo and Niigata, while Tokyo, Saitama, Kanagawa, Okinawa, Chiba and Aichi rather increased the number of residents.

    The number of foreign residents in Japan increased by 174,228 to 2,497,656, which accounts for 1.96% of the total population (the ratio is the highest ever).


    5. Imperial Household’s Cherished Treasure To Be Presented To The Public


    According to Yomiuri, Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga indicated that the Administration is planning to build new facilities in 2025 to present to the public the collection of the Imperial Household, which the Imperial Household Agency stores in its warehouse.

    There are 9,874 collected items in the warehouse including national treasure or important cultural property class items as well as historically important items.

  • 02 Jul 2018 by Global Chamber Tokyo

    1.     TPP Related Laws Passed


    Although the TPP agreement itself had been approved by the Diet earlier after the 11 nations reached an agreement of the partnership, 10 separate laws called TPP related laws are needed in order to change the existing rules, which contradict the TPP’s new rules.

    One example is the copyright protection period to be extended to match the TPP standard.

    All the TPP laws had been approved by the House of Representatives, and were approved by the House of Councilors on June 29.

    By this Diet approval of the laws, all the necessary approval procedure of Japan is now completed. 

    Mexico is ahead in finishing its internal approval process and once four more nations out of the nine remaining member nations complete their individual approval processes, the TPP will take effect in 60 days.

    Immediately upon taking effect, Australia will eliminate its tariff on Japanese cars, while Vietnam will eliminate its tariff on Japanese motorcycles with the engine capacity of 3,000 cc or larger in 10 years.

    Japan will eliminate its tariff of eventually 95% of the items currently being imported.

    Immediately after the effect, Japan’s tariff on beef will be reduced to 27.5% from 38.5% and in 16 years, it will be reduced to 9%.


    2.     Japan To Deploy Aegis Ashore In Akita and Yamaguchi


    Defense Minister Onodera visited the Governor of Yamaguchi Prefecture and Akita Prefecture individually on the 22nd of June and asked for their understanding of MoD’s plan to deploy the ground-based Aegis system by the name of Aegis Ashore in the two prefectures.

    This missile defense system has a missile defense coverage radius as long as one thousand kilometers, and by deploying one system in as north as Akita and another in as west as Yamaguchi, the entire Japan territory can be protected against ballistic missile attacks.

    Even though the denuclearization of North Korea is eventually realized, the country still has hundreds of ballistic missiles in its weapon inventory with conventional or bio/chemical warheads.

    Besides, Chinese Army demonstrated its nuclear cruise missile delivery capability up to off the Wakayama coast by its bomber H6 in August last year.

    With those as a potential threat, the MoD is planning to deploy Aegis Ashore in 2023.  


    3.     MRJ Flight Test Exposed To The U.S. Media For The First Time


    According to Yomiuri, Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation exposed the ongoing flight tests of its Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) to the U.S. media for the first time on June 27.

    Four test planes are flying in Moses Lake, WA.

    Then, one of the test planes will fly to Farnborough, the UK soon to participate in this year’s Farnborough Airshow in the middle of July.

    It is going to be the first flight demonstration to the public.


    4.     Space Probe Hayabusa 2 Arrived At Planet Ryugu


    Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)’s prove named Hayabusa 2 arrived at its planned destination, namely Small Planet Ryugu at 9:35 am on June 27 (JST).

    Hayabusa 2 was launched at the end of 2014 and travelled around 3.2 billion kilometers with three and a half years heading toward the small planet that travels on an orbit between the Earth and Mars.

    Its direct distance to Ryugu is 0.3 billion kilometers.

    Hayabusa 2 was placed on an orbit similar to Earth’s orbit first and tested its ion engine’ performance.

    In December 2015, it conducted a “Swing-by” operation, which acquires acceleration using the earth’s gravity and the ion engine’s boost to switch the orbit to chase Ryugu.

    The probe gradually approached Ryugu by spending two and a half years and on June 27, it arrived at 20 km above the surface of Ryugu at last.

    After checking the gravity and shape of the small planet, JAXA will decide on a spot for Hayabusa 2 to land.

    Then, the probe will collect specimens like pieces of rocks etc.

    Hayabusa 2 is expected to leave Ryugu in a November-December 2019 time frame and return to the Earth at the end of 2020.

  • 18 Jun 2018 by Global Chamber Tokyo

    1.     Japan-North Korea Top Meeting Speculated


    In the wake of the U.S.–North Korea summit meeting, where President Trump raised the abduction issue and later recommended PM Abe to follow it up, the Abe Administration reportedly began to approach its counterpart in North Korea.

    As the result, Yomiuri reported that Foreign Minister Yohei Kono is seeking for a meeting with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho during the upcoming ASEAN foreign ministers meeting to be held in Singapore from July 30 through August 4.

    If this meeting is realized, Foreign Minister Kono is expected to sound to his counterpart a meeting between PM Abe and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un.

    The media speculates that such a top meeting could be organized as early as August in Pyongyang or in September during the period of this year’s Eastern Economic Forum to be held in Vladivostok.

    The Japanese Government is in a position to normalize the diplomatic relationship with North Korea based on the Japan-North Korea Pyongyang Declaration of 2002 and provide economic cooperation once the issues of nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles and abduction are solved completely.


    2.     Japan To Accept More Foreign Workers


    The Abe Administration released a new policy on June 15 to establish a new visa category for “Specific Skills” in the fields of agriculture, senior people’s care service, lodging and shipbuilding.

    This visa is valid for five years at maximum and applicants have to pass both a relevant skill test and Japanese conversational test.

    Technical interns’ stay in Japan can be extended up to five years based on their skill and experience, and if they apply for this new visa after their first five-year stay, they can continue to stay and work in Japan for a total of 10 years.

    And even after the 10 years, they can apply for a permanent stay permit if they pass an advanced expertise test.

    This permit allows its bearers to bring their families from their mother countries.


    3.     Casino Bill To Pass Lower House


    The Cabinet Committee of the House of Representatives passed the Integrated Resort Bill on June 15.

    The bill legalizes opening and operating a casino under certain conditions as part of an integrated resort.

    The bill goes to the floor of the House of Representatives on the 19th and then goes to the House of Councilors.

    The ruling parties will extend the session from the 20th of June through the middle to the end of July so that the Upper House has sufficient time to deliberate the bill.

    Considering the share of the ruling parties’ seats in both chambers, the bill is anticipated to pass.

    The TPP agreement is expected to be approved by the Diet in the same session.


    4.     Next Generation Battery To Be Jointly Developed


    Yomiuri reported that Toyota, Panasonic, the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), and some others announced on June 15 that they would form a team to co-develop a next-generation battery “All Solid Battery” that is used to remarkably improve the performance of Electric Vehicles.

    15 companies from auto, battery and material manufacturers and 15 institutions including Kyoto University and Tokyo Institute of Technology will provide engineers and researchers for this joint development.

    The goal is to achieve mass production of this All Solid Battery by 2030 with the performance of three times better than the present lithium ion batteries in terms of charging time and production cost.

  • 04 Jun 2018 by Global Chamber Tokyo

    1.     Japan-Russia Summit Meeting Did Not Clear The Visibility Of The Northern Island Issue


    PM Abe visited Russia and met with President Putin on May 26.

    Although it was the 21st meeting between Abe and Putin, it was the first since Putin was reelected in this past March.

    According to Yomiuri, the expectation of Japan had been such that Putin might have become more relaxed after his fourth term win.

    However, there was no positive statement made by President Putin during the premier meeting with regard to the Northern Island issue, Yomiuri reported.

    The two leaders just confirmed the following points this time:


    • The two countries support to materialize the U.S. – North Korea summit meeting and its success.
    • The two countries keep a close tie to realize denuclearization of North Korea.
    • PM Abe requested that Russia cooperate with Japan in solving the abduction issue, while President Putin expressed his understanding of the request.
    • In order to embody the Japan-Russia joint economic activity, the two nations will dispatch mutual teams consisting of government officials and private representatives to the site in this July or August.


    2.     Milestones Set For Fiscal Consolidation


    The Government of Japan held the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy on the 28th of May to come up with a plan to restore the fiscal soundness and to achieve the Cabinet goal of the fiscal surplus in 2025.

    The council presented three intermediary indices as major milestones to be achieved in 2021 as follows:


    • The ratio of the deficit of JFY2021’s primary balance against JFY2021’s GDP shall be 1.5% as opposed to 3.4% in JFY2017.
    • The ratio of the outstanding balance of the national debt as of JFY2021’s end shall be in a low side of 180% of JFY2021’s GDP. (It was 189.4% in JFY2017.)
    • The ratio of the fiscal deficit of JFY2021 against JFY2021’s GDP shall be 3% or below.(It was 4.8% in JFY2017.)


    These targets assume annual growths of Japan’s GDP as somewhere between 1.9% and 2.5%, which are not necessarily easy targets considering the GDP growth of 1.6% in JFY2017.



    3.     New Innovation Strategy To Increase Young IT Researchers And Engineers


    Yomiuri revealed an outline of the Abe Cabinet’s New Innovation Strategy on May 29.

    The main goal of this strategy is to increase the number of young IT researchers and engineers, and allocate more research fund for those young IT human resources to explore out-of-the-boundary researchers and AI-based “smart industrialization” like “Smart Agriculture”.

    The number of young researchers at universities in Japan is declining, which might have been causing the decrease of the number of papers from Japan in the field of science and engineering (6% declination in the past 10 years).

    As the result, Japan slipped from the world No. 2 position down to the 4th in terms of the number of paper submitted in the world.


    4.     Australia Resumed Imports Of Japanese Beef


    Since Japan’s BSE issue became known to the public in 2001, the Government of Australia had stopped importing Japanese beef.

    As the wave of the Japanese food boom in the world is also coming to Australia creating a demand of Japanese beef as well, the Government of Australia decided to recognize Japan as a low BSE risk nation in 2015, and this month, they allowed to import Japanese beef.

    The amount of the exports of Japanese beef in 2017 was 19.2 billion yen, which is a 41.4% increase from the previous year.

    This increase is attributable to Taiwan’s market, which resumed imports of Japanese beef last year.

  • 21 May 2018 by Global Chamber Tokyo

    1.     New 5 Year Maritime Policy Emphasize National Security


    The Abe Cabinet approved and released the 3rd Maritime Basic Plan that provides policy guidline for the five years from JFY2018 to JFY2022.

    According to Yomiuri, it mentions how to respond the North Korean ballistic missile threat for the first time.

    It also prioritizes the necessity of enhancing the ability to patrol Japan’s territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) as well as remote islands defense capability.

    For these purposes, the plan is to strengthen Japan’s Maritime Domain Awareness.

    It also states a policy to positively participate in an international rulemaking opportunities to mitigate the Arctic Ocean’s sea ice reduction due to global warming.


    2.     Listed Companies’ Bottom-line Marked Highest Ever


    Among all the companies listed in the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s 1st Section, 1,312 companies have already announced their individual financial results of their fiscal 2017s. 

    SMBC Nikko Security summed up all the results to analyze the overall performance.

    According to the analysis, the total revenue and the total profit after tax went up by 7.6% and 24.7% respectively in comparison with FY2016s’ data.

    The total profit after tax of FY2016s was 23.5 trillion yen, which was the highest ever as of last year.

    But, The total PAT of FY2017s (30.1 trillion yen ($27.4 billion)) surpassed the highest record.

    Their good results are attributable to relatively weak yen and favorable overseas market conditions including the U.S. tax reduction.

    As for the prospect for FY2018s, the PAT might not further grow due to relatively strong yen and negative effect by the U.S.-China trade war, Yomiuri suggested.


    3.     1st Quarter GDP Downed For The First Time Since 4th Quarter 2015


    The Cabinet Office announced on the 16th that Japan’s January-March 2018 GDP went down by 0.2% from the previous quarter.

    This means a 0.6% GDP reduction on an annually adjusted basis.

    Japan’s economy marked 8 consecutive quarters of positive growth and this past quarter is the first minus growth since the 4th quarter of 2015.

    Consumer spending stayed flat, while capital and housing investment decreased by 0.1% and 2.1% respectively in the first quarter.

    Although salary and wage are increasing, so are key prices including gasoline, beer, utility etc.

    The prospect for the next quarter is not necessarily bright, economists here state.


    4.     iPS Cell Based Cardiac Muscle Transplanting Clinical Research Begins


    According to Yomiuri, the Ministry of Welfare and Labor conditionally accepted the plan presented by Osaka University’s research team for iPS cell based cardiac muscle transplanting clinical research.

    The research team receives iPS cells from Kyoto University’s iPS cell storage and cultures them to be cardiac muscle cells. 

    Then, the cardiac muscle cells are processed to be two slices with the diameter of a few centimeters and the thickness of 0.1 mm.

    The two slices of the cultured cardiac muscle cells are transplanted to a patient with ischemic cardiomyopathy.

    The transplanted muscle cells are expected to induce the patient’s heart to regenerate its own cardiac muscle.

    Three patients are expected to agree to undergo this clinical research for their treatment.

    It will take a year after the transplant to conclude the safety and effectiveness of this treatment.


    5. Hitachi Organizing Finance Scheme For Nuclear Power Plant Construction In UK


    Yomiuri reported on the 17th that Hitachi is reaching an agreement with the UK Government for a loan package in the amount of 2 trillion yen or larger ($18.2 B) to finance its project to build two nuclear power plants on the Anglesey Island in the UK.

    Hitachi took over this project from a UK based nuclear power business company by the name of Horizon Nuclear Power when it acquired this UK company in 2012.

    Hitachi already organized the Japanese Government participation and according to Yomiuri, the total project cost of 3 trillion yen ($27.3 B) will be financed as follows:


    Paid in capital: 30% of the total cost (10% each by Hitachi, Japanese Government affiliated financial institutions, and a group of UK Government and companies)

    Loan: 70% (UK Government and its affiliated financial institutions)


    Although there was a strong mood against the nuclear power plant in the public of the UK up to early 2000s, the nation decided to come back to nuclear power source due to the tapering production of oil and gas in the North Sea.

    The two power plants on the  Anglesey Island are expected to begin their operation in the early 2020s.

  • 07 May 2018 by Global Chamber Tokyo

    1.     PM Abe’ Approval Rating Continues To Decline


    Yomiuri conducted its monthly survey on April 20 through 22 on how the Abe Cabinet is publicly approved.

    The approval rating declined to 39% from 42% last time and decreased by 15% from the one before (March 9-11).

    The disapproval rating went up to 53%, which is highest ever since PM Abe formed his Cabinet in 2012.

    62% of those who took the survey listed the lack of trust in PM Abe as the main reason for their disapproval.

    The unanswered questions have been whether or not PM Abe’s political power influenced past decisions by government agencies with regard to some private school’s purchasing bid of governmental property or a local government with regard to establishing a new department for a local university.

    Besides, there are a series of scandals happening at the Ministry of Finance, Defense and some others.


    Political parties’ approval ratings are as follows:


    LDP      37% (36% last time)

    CDPJ   10% ( 9% last time)


    The result of the question of who should be the next prime minister is as follows:


    PM Abe                                                        47% (53% last time)

    Shinjiro Koizumi                                        22% (19%)

    Shigeru Ishiba                                            16% (15%)

    Kishida (former Foreign Minister)           4% (6%)

    Kono (Foreign Minister)                            4% (2%)


    2.     PM Abe – President Trump Meeting


    Although 66% of those who joined the survey valued the PM Abe – President Trump meeting held in Florida in February last year, only 45% valued the summit meeting this time also made in Florida, Yomiuri reported.

    Despite the fact that President Trump agreed to PM Abe’s request to take up the North Korean abduction issue during the meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-un, which is expected to be held in the beginning of June or earlier, only 20% are optimistic about the possibility of the issue to be solved by the meeting.

    73% do not think any change will be made.

    In order to make North Korea give up its nuclear weapon development and experiment, 46% believe that the world society should emphasize dialogue with them, while 45% believe that pressure should be given.  


    3.     Difficulty To Hire At SME And Some Specific Industries


    Recruit, one of Japan’s largest HR company publicly announced that 1.88 is the job opening to application ratio for the university students who are to graduate in March next year and begin to work in April.

    It is highest ever since 1995.

    This ratio means 1.88 job openings for one job seeker.

    The ratio jumps to 9.91 as long as Japanese SME are concerned.

    Also, it varies by industry.

    Financial industry’s job opening to application ratio is lowest as 0.2 (5 applicants for one opening), followed by Services and Information Industry (0.45).

    The highest is Retail & Wholesale Industry (12.87), followed by Construction (9.55) and Manufacturing Industry (1.97).


    4.     Old Coal Thermal Power Plants To Retire


    Yomiuri reported on April 27 that the Japanese Government released a draft plan of its Energy Basic Plan, which is to present a guideline for mid-to-long term energy policies.

    The draft articulates that the existing coal thermal power plants that were built in 1990 or before should phase out considering the poor efficiency and high volume of CO2 emission.

    These old coal thermal plants share roughly half (20,000 megawatts) of Japan’s entire coal thermal power plants.

    The draft plan is suggesting that these old plants should be replaced by one of world’s most advanced type of coal thermal power plant called “Super Super Critical Pressure”.

    The draft also mentions the existing nuclear power plants as “important baseload power source”, while adding an expression that Japan’s dependence on nuclear power should be reduced to the extent possible.

    In the meantime, the draft plan expects to make renewable energy as Japan’s main source of power by reducing power generation cost.

  • 16 Apr 2018 by Global Chamber Tokyo
    1.     Renewable Energy To Be Major Source Of Japan’s Energy For 2050
    A private council of METI called Energy Situation Round Table submitted on
    April 10 a proposal for a national energy strategy intended for Japan’s
    ideal energy supply situation in 2050, Mainichi reported.
    Under the Paris Agreement, Japan is committed to the target of reducing  its
    greenhouse gas emission by 80% in 2050 from the amount emitted in 2013.
    The national energy strategy is going to present Japan’s milestone to
    achieve the above goal.
    The round table’s proposal presented an energy portfolio for 2030 consisting
    of Renewable Energy (22% to 24%), Nuclear (20% to 22%) and Thermal Power
    (56%), while for 2050, it positioned Renewable Energy as major source of
    energy and pointed out the necessity of hydrogen technology etc. for energy
    storage to stabilize power supply throughout instability of RE power
    It did not mention the role of nuclear power. 
    2.     Henoko Shore Protection Work Started
    Committee for Environment Monitoring etc. of the Ministry of Defense
    announced its judgement on April 9 that the Henoko landfill work would not
    require transplanting the local coral as long as pollution prevention
    measure is strengthened. 
    With this judgement as well as the result of the Nago City mayor’ election
    that revealed the loss of the anti-landfill group’s candidate, the Abe
    Administration began the Henoko shore protection work on the 9th.
    Once the shore protection work is completed, landfill work work will follow.
    Meantime, Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga, who was elected with the campaign
    promise to stop the Henoko project that is to move US Marine Corp’s  Futenma
    Air Station to Henoko is anticipated in this summer to cancel the
    authorization of the landfill work made by his predecessor Governor Hirokazu
    Nakaima in 2013.  
    Such cancellation can only be valid if there is a violation of law or
    similar misconduct by authorized parties. 
    Governor Onaga is going to claim that the environmental protection measures
    are not sufficient to sustain the authorization. 
    In this December, Governor Onaga’s first term expires, while he has some
    health issue, so whether he will run for reelection in November is yet to be
    3.     Exit Tax To Be Imposed From Next January
    A new law passed the Diet on the 11th and all the visitors and Japanese who
    are departing Japan on or after January 7  next year will be charged 1,000
    yen per person as exit tax. 
    Transfer passengers and small children under two years old as well as crew
    of aircraft and ships are exempted.
    The tax revenue will be solely spent to improve the soft infrastructure for
    receiving inbound visitors such as more foreign language based sign boards,
    information dissemination and public Wi-Fi.
    4.     New Working Visa To Become Available Next April
    The Government of Japan announced on the 11th that it would create a new
    working visa category in April 2019.  
    This visa is going to be available for technical interns who finished their
    individual Technical Intern Training Programs (TITP) in Japan, which could
    last as long as five years. 
    As conditions, TITP interns have to return their mother nations first after
    the completion of TITP, and then apply for this visa temporarily called
    “Specific Skill Qualified Visa” if they want to work in Japan using their
    acquired skill.  
    They also have to pass some test as well.
    The visa will allow technical interns to stay in Japan for five to seven
    years depending on the original duration of individual TITP.  If a technical
    intern stayed in Japan for TITP for three years, his or her new visa will
    allow a 7 year stay, while in case of a five year TITP, the visa provides a
    five year permit. 
    The number of technical interns in Japan is rapidly growing now.
    It was 89,033, while now we see 274,233 interns.

  • 03 Apr 2018 by Global Chamber Tokyo

    1.     Schedule Set For Abdication and Enthronement Set


    The Abe Administration announced on March 30 that it is planning to take the
    following schedule for Emperor Akihito’s abdication and Prince Hironomiya’s
    ascension to the throne:


    February 24, 2019                       Ceremony of the 30th anniversary of Emperor Akihito’s Reign

    End of February 2019                 Announcement of New Emperor’s Era after Heisei(平成)

    April 30, 2019                               Traditional ceremony of the abdication of Emperor Akihito

    May 1, 2019                                  Traditional ceremony of the enthronement of New Emperor Hironomiya

    October 22 and 23, 2019            Public announcement of the enthronement of Emperor Hironomiya and reception to receive greeting from Prime Minister and international heads of states


    2.     Accelerated Aging Society – 2045 Population Estimate


    National Institute of Population and Security Research announced on March 30 its population estimate for the year of 2045.

    Total population will be 106,420,000, which is around 20 million less than 2015.

    All the 47 prefectures except for Tokyo  will see less people in 2045 than present in their individual areas. Tokyo’s population will be 0.7% more in 2045 than that of 2015.

    The pace of the declination of population is slowing down in comparison with the institute’s previous estimate five years ago thanks to the recent trend of higher birthrates than originally predicted.

    The share of 65 years old or higher will be 36.8% in 2045, while Akita prefecture will see one senior in every two residents(50.1%) in 2045, the institute’s estimate revealed.

    Meanwhile, the Ministry of Justice announced recently that the number of foreign nationals who lived in Japan as of the end of 2017 grew 7.5 percent from a year earlier to reach a record high of 2,561,848.


    3.     Safeguard Against U.S. Frozen Beef Removed


    The Japanese Government announced on March 30 that it would remove the emergency import restriction measure, or “Safeguard” against frozen beef on April 1.

    This Safeguard had been kicked in by the Japanese Government against U.S. and other frozen beef since August last year when the pace of the increase of the imports exceeded 17% in comparison with the previous year.

    This trigger percentage had been agreed by the U.S. Government and the Japanese Government.

    Once the Safeguard is implemented, the tariff is increased from 38.5% to 50% as far as frozen beef is concerned, and once it is removed, it comes back to 38.5%.

    Most of the U.S. frozen beef are consumed at gyudon (a rice bowl topped with beef) chains like Yoshinoya and Sukiya as well as at many Korean BBQ restaurants in Japan.

    The same mechanism is applied to Australian and New Zealand frozen beef, but the TPP, upon getting effective, will reduce the tariff down to 27.5% and 16 years later to 9% and eventually 0% for the frozen beef imports from those TPP member nations.


    4.     High Stock Prices Creating Largest Capital Gain Ever For Corporates


    Japan’s fiscal 2017 ended today.

    Yesterday was the last trade day of the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

    Nikkei Average Stock Price ended yesterday at 21,454.3 yen, which is 2,543 yen (13.5%) higher than the last trade day of Fiscal 2016.

    According to Nomura Security, the capital gain of 1,628 companies listed in the stock exchange is roughly 18.5 trillion yen($174.5 billion), which is largest ever since the company started collecting data in 2001 thanks to this favorable trend of the stock exchange market.


    5.       JAL and ANA To Ally With Sky Team Members And Others Respectively


    Japan Air Lines is a member of the One World Group and ANA is a member of the Star Alliance Group. ANA recently announced that it will begin code-sharing operations and honor mutual mileage members with Alitalia of Italy of the Sky Team Group.

    ANA has been allying with Garuda of Indonesia and Vietnam Air, which belong to different alliance groups than Star Alliance.

    JAL also does the same with Aeroflot of Russia, Aero Mexico and 13 others, none of which is a One World member.

    Yomiuri reports that due to the heated competition against LCCs and to the M&A of airlines, the original alliance group arrangement no longer fits the entire strategic landscape and both JAL and ANA have to pick and choose their right partners to survive the competition.

  • 16 Mar 2018 by Global Chamber Tokyo

    Slow But Steady Recovery From The Disaster


    March 11 marked the 7th anniversary of the East Japan Great Earthquake, which caused the terrible tsunami killing 15,895 people and making 2,539 people missing.

    The seven years have reduced the number of the evacuees from more than 120 thousand to 70 thousand, while around 3,600 people died during the time due to the causes stemming from the disaster.

    Although the most of the social infrastructures including highways, roads, railways, and utility are recovered, and moving the houses of the survivors of the tsunami deeper inside of the land is completed, redevelopment of the tsunami raided area is not in progress other than creating public parks etc.


    Scandal Lowering Abe’s Approval Rating


    Yomiuri conducted its monthly survey on March 9 through 11.

    It revealed that the Abe Cabinet approval rating declined to 48% from 54% last month and its disapproval rating increased to 42% from 36%.

    There is an issue reported by the media that the government sold off some nationally-owned land to a private school under favorable terms.

    The media and the opposition parties suspect that some ruling parties’ politicians’ influence made the unfair deal possible.

    The story is becoming a large scandal after an insider of the Ministry of Finance leaked to the media that the ministry intentionally modified past record related to the land deal to hide the private relationship between the school and politicians or their families.

    Now that it is widely known that Mrs. Abe’s name was mentioned in the original document and the MoF removed that part intentionally, the opposition parties, as well as the media, are demanding the ruling parties to summon Mrs. Abe as well as some high ranking MOF officials.

    Due to this scandal, the Diet deliberation is paralyzed and the Abe Cabinet’s plan to explore the very first Constitutional Amendment is now in jeopardy.

    As for an anticipated Trump-Kim top meeting, the survey revealed that 56% expect that the meeting would result in solving the North Korean nuclear and missile weapon issue, while 41% do not.


    PM Abe To Visit U.S. In Early April


    According to the media report, President Trump called PM Abe in the morning on March 9 Japan time and briefed him on how the Korean government reported to the U.S. about the South-North Korean top meeting, and then shared his intent that the President would accept the invitation by Kim Jong Un for a meeting.

    As the result of the telephone conversation with President Trump, PM Abe announced to the media that he and President Trump agreed that PM Abe would pay a visit to the U.S. early next month to hold a discussion about the North Korean issue.


     TPP Signed By 11 Nations


    The representatives of all the 11 participating counties of the TPP signed the partnership agreement on March 8 at San Tiago, Chili.

    Its market is roughly 10% of the world GDP having 500 million population.

    It is much smaller than the original TPP 12 including the United States, but the Government of Japan still expects its positive impact including an 1.5% increase of GDP and 460,000 more employment.

    The agreement is to enter into force 60 days after first six nations ratified the agreement.


    Sharp’s V-shaped Recovery


    Sharp Corporation, once a leading electronics manufacturer in Japan, was acquired by Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision in 2016 after recognizing large loss due to mismanagement.

    Immediately after the acquisition, Hon Hai sent its No. 2 (Mr. Tai) to Sharp to lead the company as CEO.

    Mr. Tai immediately succeeded in turning the company profitable using Hon Hai’s world distribution channels and made a V-shaped recovery in both revenue and stock price.

    Sharp’s stock returned to the listing of First Section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange in December last year.

  • 05 Mar 2018 by Global Chamber Tokyo

    Serious Human Resources Short Supply Revealed


    The Ministry of Welfare and Labor announced on March 1 that the unemployment rate for the month of January was 2.4%, which is the lowest ever since April 1993.

    Although the total number of people employed is increased by 920 thousand to 65,620 thousand in January from a year ago, the demand fulfillment rate was as low as 14.7%, meaning that a company who wants to hire 7 people was able to hire only one.


     Softbank Accelerating Acquisition of US Transportation/Delivery Service Providers


    In the wake of acquiring the largest stake of Uber, the world largest ride-share company in January, Softbank announced on March 1 that it invested  $535 million into DoorDash, a food delivery service company of San Francisco, Nikkei reported.

    Softbank is one of the three mega mobile carriers in Japan, owning Sprint in the U.S., Yahoo Japan and various ICT, internet and energy-related companies.

    The article suggests that Mr. Masayoshi Son’s plan is to accelerate investment in companies who provide unique technology and resources for transportation and delivery services so that he would be able to systematically create business out of the global flow of not only information and data over internet and electric wave but also the flow of people and delivery.


       7th Intelligence Gathering Satellite Placed In The Orbit


    The 38th H2A rocket was launched on February 27th from the Tanegashima Space Center and successfully placed an optical intelligence-gathering satellite in the orbit.

    With this placement, Japan operates 3 optical intelligence-gathering satellites and 4 radar intelligence-gathering satellites.

    Their main mission now is to gather intelligence over North Korea so that any symptom of their preparing its ballistic missile launch.

    However, for detecting the actual launching moment, Japan relies on the United States’ Early Warning Satellites’ intelligence.

    This launch of H2A marked the 32nd consecutive success in a row and its success rate is 97.4%.


    Rakuten To Enter Mobile Phone Market


    The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications announced on February 27 that Rakuten, Japan’s largest online retail and related service provider, applied for new assignment of radio wave frequency bandwidths for mobile phone use.

    Japanese cellphone market has been dominated by the three giants, namely NTT DoCoMo (39.5%), KDDI (au)(27%) and Softbank(23.5%).

    Having 95 million members registered on its online shopping services, Rakuten aims at maximizing the synergy between cellphone services and online shopping services.

    However, investors are concerned about the relatively small scale of Rakuten’s capital and financial strength in comparison with the three existing carriers, thus Rakuten’s stock price has been consistently declining since its announcement of December last year to enter this market.

  • 19 Feb 2018 by Global Chamber Tokyo

    1.     PM Abe Met North Korea’s No.2 Person At Pyeong Chang


    PM Abe met with Mr. Kim Yong-nam, the President of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of North Korea on the 9th during the dinner event that was organized by President Moon Jae-in of South Korea to celebrate the opening of the Pyeong Chang Olympic Games.

    Reportedly, PM Abe passed his message to him that the government of Japan demands the North Korean regime to solve the abduction issue that North Korean special forces abducted Japanese civilians tens of years ago and have not returned them back to Japan yet.

    Also demanded was giving up its nuclear missile development program. It is Abe’s first time to meet with a representative of Kim Jong-un’ regime. Kim Yong-nam is ranked No.2 after Kim Jong-un playing the role of head of state outside his country according to Yomiuri.

    He visited South Korea as the head of the North Korean high ranking officials group for the joint participation in the Winter Olympic Games.



    2.     PM Abe – President Moon Jae-in Meeting At Pyeong Chang


    PM Abe met with President Moon Jae-in on the 9th at a hotel in Pyeong Chang for an hour, Yomiuri reported.

    PM Abe demanded that the Moon Administration implement the Japan-Korea agreement on the Comfort Women Issue that was made in 2015.

    The agreement was made with the special recognition that neither country would ever revisit this issue so that the two nations would be able to constructively explore a futuristic bi-lateral relationship.

    However, last year, President Moon released a statement right after his inauguration that he would not think the 2015 agreement would ever solve this issue.

    With this as a background, PM Abe asked President Moon to reconfirm that the Moon’s administration honor the 2015 agreement to be fully implemented.

    President Moon told Abe that he would not request for a re-negotiation of this issue, while he explained that the two nations should further cooperate with each other to solve this issue.

    PM Abe also asked President Moon to reconfirm the Japan-U.S.-South Korean position against North Korea, namely maximum diplomatic and economic pressure to be placed on it without being affected by the North Korean sudden “Smile Diplomacy”.

    President Moon responded that the point that the South-North dialogue would lose the momentum of the international collaboration against North Korea is a needless fear.


    3.     PM Abe Keeps High Approval Rating


    In his 6th year of the Prime Minister position, PM Abe continues to receive a high approval rating, Yomiuri’s monthly survey revealed.

    According to the survey that was conducted on February 10 and 11, his cabinet approval rating was 54%, which is just the same as the previous month, while its disapproval rating was 36% (35% last time).

    Other key findings were as follows:


    With regard to possible Constitutional Amendments, how do you want Article 9 Section 2 that states Japan’s giving up military force to be amended?

    36% - Keep it by adding another statement to define the base for Japan to hold the Self Defense Force

    35% - Delete it and clarify the purpose and nature of the Self Defense Force

    20% - No need to articulate the existence of the Self Defense Force


    Do you think the thaw of the South-North Korean relationship contribute to solving the issue of the North Korean nuclear and missile issue?

    12% - Yes

    83% - No


    Do you approve the Abe Cabinet plan to move the US Marin Corp’s Futenma Air Station to Henoko?

    44% - Yes

    43% - No


    Who should be the next prime minister?

    32% - PM Abe

    25% - Rep Shinjiro Koizumi (Chief Vice Secretary General of LDP)

    21% - Rep Shigeru Ishiba (Former Secretary General of LDP)


    Which party do you approve most?

    42% - LDP (36% last time)

    9% - Constitutional Democratic Party (8%)

    36% - Independent (40%)


    4.       Pilot Shortage Issue


    Yomiuri reported that Japan’s supply of pilots is not keeping up with the pace of the growth of the flights both domestic and international.

    Reportedly, Air Do, a Hokkaido based LCC stopped 26 flights between Chitose (Hokkaido) and Haneda this month due to unavailability of pilots.

    This issue will become serious in 2030 when so many pilots are scheduled to retire.

    The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation, who takes care of air transportation policies, is warning the Japanese airlines and interest groups that unless the supply of new pilots increases by 40% by 2030, the demand can never be met.

    A six (6) percent of around 6,400 pilots working in Japan are non-Japanese.

    International market to hire non-Japanese pilots is becoming tighter and tighter due to Chinese LCCs’ strong demand, the article said.


    5.       Copy Right Protection Period To Be Extended To 70 Years


    The original TPP agreement reached in February 2016 included a U.S. led condition to extend the copyright protection period to 70 years after the authors or writers die in case of novels or music, and after the publication in case of records or CDs etc.

    Those protection periods are both 50 years currently in Japan.

    Since the United States decided to leave the agreement and since the new TPP without the U.S. set aside this condition, the Japanese copyright protection period remains unchanged for now.

    However, the Japan-EU EPA was agreed the end of last year incorporating the 70 years copyright protection period, so the government of Japan will present a bill to revise the Copy Right law accordingly to the Diet on March 8, Yomiuri reported.


    6. Agricultural Products Exports Increased By 7.6%


    The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery announced on the 9th that Japan’s agricultural, forestry and fishery products exports were 807.3 billion yen ($7.3 B) in 2017, which is a 7.6% increase from the year before.

    It is the 5th consecutive year to break the record of the exports amount.

    The largest contributor is sake and other alcohol beverage, followed by scallops, and pearls.

    Hong Kong imported most of the Japanese agricultural, forestry and fishery products (187.7 billion yen), followed by the United States (111.5 billion yen) , China(100.8 billion yen) and Taiwan (83.8 billion yen).


    7. Trade Surplus Shrunk, Current Account Surplus Increased


    According to the Statistics of the 2017 Balance of International Payments announced by the Ministry of Finance on the 8th, Japan’s trade surplus diminished by 10.8% to 4,930.8 billion yen ($44.8 B) from 2016, while its current account surplus expanded to 21,874.2 billion yen ($198.9 B), which is 7.5% more than a year before.

    The current account surplus increase is attributable to the increase of the return (dividend) on FDI (9.1% increase to 19,740 billion yen)  and the largest ever surplus of the travel balance (1,763 billion yen).


    8. Very Slow But Steady Economic Growth


    The Cabinet Office announced on the 14th that the 4th quarter of 2017 marked a 0.1% GDP growth in real term, which is the 8th consecutive quarter that recognized positive economic growth.

    This long continuous growth is for the first time since the bubble economic period, namely from the 2nd quarter of 1986 through the 1st quarter of 1989.

    However, the growth magnitude was much larger in the bubble economy period.


    9.  Admission Limit of Original Bill Of Integrated Resort Revealed


    The Abe Administration presented to the ruling parties (LDP and Komei) its original bill of Integrated Resort to be presented to the Diet this year, Yomiuri reported.

    The law legalizes casino as part of integrated resort facilities in Japan, which are expected to boost local economies after 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games is over.

    Casino has been illegal in Japan and it is still controversial to legalize it.

    The administration, therefore, came up with the following unique admission limit ideas for the review of the ruling parties.


    The maximum number for Japanese and non-Japanese resident in Japan allowed to enter casino is three times per 7 consecutive days.

    The area to place game machines or equipment related to casino is limited to 15,000 square meters or up to 3% of the entire IR area, whichever comes smaller.


    Once the groundwork with the ruling parties is completed, the IR law will be deliberated at the Diet this year.

  • 19 Jan 2018 by Global Chamber Tokyo

    PM Abe Keeps High Approval Rating


    Yomiuri conducted the monthly survey from the 12th through 14th this month.

    Some of the key findings are listed below:

                                                                          Yes                                                 No

    Do you approve Abe Cabinet?                54% (53% in December 2017)   35% (36%)

    Do you feel economic recovery               27%                                                73%

    Do you approve Japanese Gov’t            83%                                                11%


    Position against Korean Gov’t demand to revisit the 2015 agreement on the Comfort Women’s issue? 88% of the respondents demand the administration to work on economy and employment issues, while only 27% expect it to implement Constitutional Amendment.

    As for the possible amendment of Article 9 Section 2 that denies Japan’s holding military force, 32% of the respondents prefer keeping the section as is and adding a prescription of the base of the existence of the Self Defense Force. 

    34% replied that the section should be removed while inserting the statement to clarify the purpose and nature of the Self Defense Force instead.

    And 22% said there is no need to clarify the base of the SDF in the Constitution.


    Outline of Policies for the Aging Society Revealed


    The Abe Administration presented the draft of its Outline of Policies for the Aging Society to the ruling LDP on January 17, Yomiuri reported.

    The outline states the following objectives to be achieved by 2020:


                                                                          Present                                         2020

    Employment rate of 60-64 years old       63.6% (2016)                                67.0%

    Healthy life expectancy             Male 71.19 years old (2013)       add one or more years by 2020

                                                            Female 74.21                                and add two or more years by 2025

    Seniors’ social activity rate        Male 62.4% (2016)                      80%

                                                            Female 55.0

    Number of welfare taxi               15,128 cars (2016)                      28,000 cars

    Care robots market                      2.47 billion yen (2015)                50 billion yen


    The outline also suggests an option for senior people to delay receiving pension payment after 70 years old (increased payment) instead of 65 years old.

    Furthermore, it suggests financial support to senior entrepreneurs for start-ups.


    Chinese Warship and Nuclear Attack Submarine Passed Senkaku Archipelagos’ Contiguous Zone


    The government of Japan publicly announced on the 11th that a Chinese warship and an unknown submarine passed Senkaku Archipelagos’ contiguous zone on the same day, and it protested against the Chinese Government.

    Later, the unknown submarine was identified by the Maritime Self Defense Force as a Chinese Shang-class Nuclear Attack Submarine.

    According to the media, this type of submarines are equipped with cruise missiles.

    Despite its silent screw sounds, MSDF’s ASW patrol plane was able to chase the submarine continuously and to collect various data of the vessel, the media reported.

    The government of Japan suspects that the Chinese navy is collecting ocean and sea bottom data of channels from the mainland China to the Pacific Ocean.


    Foreign Visitors Increased By 19.3%


    Japan Tourism Agency announced on the 16th that 28.7 million foreigners visited Japan in 2017, which is 19.3% more than a year before.

    The visitors spent 4.4 trillion yen during their visits in Japan, which is 17.8% more than 2016.

    The largest spenders in 2017 were Chinese visitors with 38.4% of the total, followed by Taiwanese (13%), Korean (11.6%), Hong Kong (7.7%) and the United States (5.7%).


    Recruit Tie Up With Airbnb


    In preparation for Vacation Rental Business Law to be put in force in June this year, Recruit is entering this new market by collaborating with Airbnb, the world’s largest player in the vacation rental business, the media reported.

    SUMO, a Recruit’s wholly owned subsidiary company, is Japan’s largest real estate information company having more than 6.2 million houses for lease and those properties can be used for vacation rental service users from the world.

    Likewise, Rakuten, Japan’s largest online shopping website established Rakuten Lifull Stay to enter this market and to receive foreign visitors.

    It tied up with

  • 22 Dec 2017 by Global Chamber Tokyo

    1.     Japan – UK 2+2 Meeting


    Japan and the United Kingdom held a 2 plus 2 meeting in London on December 14 and announced the following joint statement:


    • The two governments will apply maximum possible pressure to North Korea to make it give up its nuclear and missile development.
    • The two governments will collaborate with each other to keep the Indo-Pacific region free and open.  The two continue to share a serious concern about the present situation in the East and South China Seas.
    • The Japanese Ground Self Defense Force and the UK Royal Army will conduct a joint exercise in Japan next year. It should be institutionalized as a periodic joint exercise.
    • A new air-to-air missile will be jointly prototyped as quickly as possible. (The Japanese Air Self Defense Force is assuming to install the missile on its F-35 fighters.)


    Foreign Minister Kohno and Defense Minister Onodera visited London and met with their individual counterparts, namely Foreign Minister Johnson and Defense Minister Williamson.


    2.     Tax Revenue Increase Reduces New Bond Issuance


    Japan’s fiscal 2018 (April 1, 2018 – March 31, 2019) budget is going to assume tax revenue as high as 59.1 trillion yen, which is highest ever since 1991 when the bubble economy peaked the tax revenue.

    Although fiscal 2018’s spending is also increased, the rate of revenue increase is higher than the spending, so the amount of new national bond to be issued to finance the balance between the spending and revenue is going to be reduced from the previous year. 

    It is going to be the 8th consecutive year of reduction of the new national bond issuance amount in a row.


    3.     Japan-EU EPA Agricultural Products Protection


    In the wake of the agreement of the EPA between Japan and EU, the two governments announced the individual agricultural products with geographical identity(GI), intellectual property of which should be mutually respected and protected as follows:


    Japanese agricultural products with GI to be protected:

    • Kobe beef
    • Matsuzaka beef
    • Yonezawa beef
    • Yuubari melon
    • Ichida persimmon
    • Shimonoseki blow fish and 42 others


    EU agricultural products with GI to be protected:

    • Camembert de Normandie
    • Roquefort
    • Feta
    • Parmigiano Reggiano
    • Gorgonzola
    • Gouda Holland
    • Mortadella Bologna
    • Cítricos Valencianos and 63 others 


    4.       Oi NPP To Be Decommissioned


    Yomiuri reported on the 21st that Kansai Electric Power Company decided to decommission it's Oi Nuclear Power Plant #1 and #2 (1.175 MW each) in Fukui Prefecture.

    As the result of the Fukushima Daiichi NPP’s accident of 2011, the safety standard was strengthened.

    These two power plants are 38 years old and they would require a significant amount of investment to clear the new standard if not decommissioned.

    Besides the demand of electric power in the Kansai region is declining.

    Including these two plants, a total of 8 NPPs are decommissioning since the accident of 2011.


    5.       Individual Financial Asset Highest Ever


    According to the Bank of Japan’s quarterly report of Funds Circulation Statistics, the outstanding balance of Japanese individuals’ financial asset as of the end of September amounts to 1,845 trillion yen, which is 4.7% more in comparison with the same period last year and is highest ever.

    Still, cash/bank deposit accounts for a lion’s share (51.1%) out of the total asset, while stocks and investment trust account for 10.7% and 5.6% respectively.


    6. TPP To Be Signed In February 2018


    Yomiuri reported that the Government of Japan is coordinating with the other 10 member nations to organize a signing ceremony for the Trans Pacific Partnership sometime between the end of February and early March 2018 in Chile.

    After the signature, the partnership agreement becomes effective 60 days after a minimum of six nations ratify the deal.


    This issue is the last one for the year.

    Thank you so much for your subscription this year. 

    I wish you a happy holiday season and a healthy and prosperous 2018!

  • 11 Dec 2017 by Global Chamber Tokyo

    Emperor’s Abdication and New Emperor’s Enthronement Formalized


    Imperial Household Council was convened on December 1 with PM Abe as chairman. 

    The council members consisted of His Imperial Highness Prince and Princess Hitachi, Chairman and Vice Chairman of the House of Representatives and of the House of Councilors, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and a few others.

    The council unanimously agreed that Emperor Akihito is to abdicate on April 30, 2019 and Prince Hironomiya is to be enthroned on May 1, 2019.

    It is going to be almost 200 years since a living Emperor abducted and was succeeded by a new Emperor at the last time (1817).

    The Government of Japan is considering to make April 30, May 1 and 2 national holidays so that the Golden Week of 2019 becomes ten straight holidays from April 27 through May 6.

    The name of the new era after Heisei (平成) will be decided and announced within the next year.

    PM Abe will ask pundits and scholars of Japanese literature and Chinese literature to come up with a long list of candidates that meet the following criteria:


    • Having suitable meanings as Japanese people’s ideal
    • Consisting of two Chinese characters
    • Easy to write
    • Easy to read
    • Not used as worldly-minded


    It will be narrowed down to a short list through legal and other important perspectives.

    And finally, the Cabinet members will discuss to choose one.

    Before his abdication, Japanese people will celebrate the 30th anniversary of Emperor Akihito’s reign on January 7, 2019.  


    Tariff Agreement To Precede For Japan-EU EPA


    The frame of the Japan-EU EPA was agreed by both sides in July this year.

    Now the representatives of the Japanese and EU governments for the EPA negotiation agreed to separate the investment field of the EPA from the deal and to reach an agreement first on the other fields of it, namely tariff elimination and simplification of government procurement and customs clearance procedures etc., Yomiuri reported on Dec 2.

    The tariffs of around 94% of the EU items that have been exported to Japan will be eliminated and the tariffs of around 99% of the Japanese items that have been exported to EU will be eliminated.

    The largest beneficiary in the EU will be the producers of cheese and wine, while the Japanese auto industry will benefit from this deal a lot.

    EU can ratify this agreement on behalf of the 28 member nations including the UK as far as their tariffs are concerned, while the 28 individual member nations need to ratify investment deals through their individual parliaments.

    The Government of Japan and EU gave priority to the speed of launching the tariff deal as early as in the first half of 2019 after the mutual ratification next year.

    And just a few minutes ago, TV news reported that PM Abe announced to the media that the two sides agreed on the tariffs today.


      Corporate Tax Rate Reduction As Incentive To Invest For Salary And Productivity Increases


    The Abe Administration and the ruling LDP have solidified a new policy to lower the corporate tax rate as an incentive for Japanese companies to invest their abundant cash for their employees’ salary and productivity increases instead of increasing their retained earnings, Yomiuri reported on Dec. 8.

    Currently, the effective corporate tax rate is 29.97% and it is to be reduced to 29.74% next year.

    The incentive plan is to reduce the rate to as low as 20% for those companies which meet the following conditions:


    1st Step:  the corporate tax rate will be reduced to 25% for those who meet the following conditions:

    • Wage/salary increase by 3%, and
    • Increase of capital investment by a certain target percentage


    2nd Step: the corporate tax rate will be further reduced to 20% for those who invest in advanced technology such as AI or sophisticated software.


    Enhancement of Japan’s BMD Capability To Be Accelerated


    Yomiuri reported on Dec 8 that the Government of Japan decided to initiate the program to study how to introduce the U.S. Aegis Ashore, a land based Aegis BMD system in this fiscal year (2017) by inserting the fund in this fiscal year’s supplemental budget.

    Originally, this program was to be launched in JFY2018, but the mounting North Korean threat is demanding an acceleration for Japan to strengthen the current BMD capability.

    According to Yomiuri, it is assumed that two Aegis Ashore systems are sufficient to defend entire Japan against the North Korean ballistic missiles by deploying one in Akita Prefecture and the other in Yamaguchi Prefecture.

  • 27 Nov 2017 by Global Chamber Tokyo

    1.    Emperor To Abdicate On April 30, 2019


    Yomiuri reported that the Abe Administration got into the final detail to implement the following schedule of the Emperor’s abdication, the new Emperor’s enthronement, and era change:


    December 1      Imperial Household Council meeting to discuss about the abdication timing

    December 8      The Cabinet finalizes the date of Emperor’s abdication as a Cabinet order.

    Within 2018      The Cabinet decides on the name of the new era after Heisei and publicly announces it.

    April 30, 2019   Emperor’s abdication (anticipated)

    May 1, 2019      New Emperor’s enthronement and a new era begins.


    Emperor’s abdication is not presumed in the present Constitution, but the present Emperor announced his desire to step down in August last year considering the difficulty to fulfill the duty due to his age.

    It urged the Government to structure a legal process to enable living Emperor’s abdication.

    Such a legal process is almost over through the Diet session except for the positioning of the ritual of abdication as a Constitutional function of the Emperor or not. 


    2.    How To Keep The Sufficient Base of The House Of The Imperial Prince


    Under the current Imperial Household Law, once a princess marries to a man, who is not a member of the House of Imperial Prince, she is no longer a member of the House.

    For example, Princess Mako, the first daughter of Prince Akishinomiya earlier announced that she is marrying to a private citizen and she announced this week that the wedding is conducted in November next year. 

    After the wedding, she is no longer a princess but a private citizen.

    This is because emperors have been succeeded on the male line basis without exception since its inception.

    However, this rule is now functioning to reduce the total number of the members of the House and the current members’ workload to not only fulfill Constitutional functions but also participate in national events as the honorable guest are growing much.

    The Government of Japan, therefore, is going to organize nationwide discussions on how to keep the sufficient base of the House of the Imperial Prince right after the Emperor’s abdication is made.

    One possibility is to allow the House of the Imperial Princess.  However, whether allowing a female line emperor or not is a difficult and delicate issue considering the 2660 years of seamless imperial history (including myth).


    3.    Fast Breeder Reactor Monju’s Decommissioning Begins


    The Abe Administration decided to decommission the Fast Breeder Reactor Monju December last year in response to Nuclear Regulation Authority’s recommendation to look for a new operational organization to manage to operate this accidents-laden R&D reactor.

    Japan Atomic Energy Agency under the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology announced this week that it would apply to Nuclear Regulation Authority for its decommissioning by the end of this month.

    Once approved, it will begin retrieving the nuclear fuel in the next fiscal year.

    The fuel retrieving work continues through 2022, followed by 20 years of work to remove equipment and piping systems of the reactor plus 5 years of dismantling and removal of the building.


    4.Keidanren’s Visit To China


    Mr. Sadayuki Sakakibara, Chairman of Keidanren, Federation of Economic Organizations took the delegation of the Japan-China Economic Association to China this week and met with Prime Minister Li Keqiang.

    Mr. Sakakibara said in a press conference that he felt a different China being more positive and friendly for collaboration.

    Considering the downtrend of Japan’s investment to China since its peak in 2012, PM Li expressed his hope that the Japanese business come back to China and contribute to Chinese economy by fresh investment.

    The chairman told the media that the attitude of the top leaders of China changed to be a lot more positive, receptive and welcoming than before when the Senkaku Archipelago issue had frozen the relationship in 2012.

    The media suspected that the change is coming from the Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “One Belt One Road” policy that is trying to connect China to Europe through the Eurasia Continent both on the ground and through the ocean, and requires a lot of investment for infrastructure etc.

  • 13 Nov 2017 by Global Chamber Tokyo

    President Trump’s Visit


    President Trump visited Japan from November 5 through 7 with three summit meetings with PM Abe and a courtesy visit to Emperor and Empress as well as a meeting with the members of the families, whose children or brothers/sisters were abducted by North Korea. President Trump played golf with PM Abe and a top Japanese golf player Mr. Matsuyama at the Kasumigaseki Country Club.

    The two leaders signed a MoU to cover collaboration in exporting mutual infrastructure products in the field of energy, ICT and transportation to the Indo-Pacific region.

    In case of energy, Yomiuri reported that the Japanese Government and the U.S. Government agreed to promote exports of American shale gas and Japanese thermal power plant and associated facilities as a package deal to emerging economies in Asia and Africa.

    Although the Trump administration is exploring exports of shale gas produced in the United States to the world, most of the energy-hungry emerging nations in Asia and Africa are lacking LNG related facilities, pipelines and high-efficiency thermal plants that burn natural gas.

    To this end, the government of Japan, with the support of the U.S. Government, will facilitate Japanese industries to invest in building LNG related facilities, gas pipelines and high-efficiency thermal plants in the region so that such nations will be able to import American shale gas for power generation.

    Japan’s JBIC and NEXI signed a MoU with the U.S. OPIC on Nov 7.

    This collaboration makes sense to Japan and U.S. not only for mutual business but more importantly for geopolitics because China is leading infrastructure exports in the Eurasia continent under the campaign of “One Belt One Road”.


    Dialogue Oriented Approach To North Korea Hoped Most


    Yomiuri conducted a public survey on November 1 and 2 in conjunction with the new Cabinet that PM Abe formed on the 1st of November.

    The approval rating of PM Abe remained unchanged at 52% from the last time (October 23 and 24), while its disapproval rating went up to 40% from 37%.

    In response to the question which options the international society should choose against the North Korean issue, either a dialogue-oriented approach or a pressure-oriented approach, 48% of the respondents chose the former and 41% for the latter.

    Other key Q&As are as follows:


    What are the top issues the Cabinet should work on now?

    Diplomatic and national security issues including the North Korean issue: 62%

    Economy and employment: 62%


    Do you approve PM Abe’s decision to reappoint all the Cabinet members this time?

    Yes: 45%

    No:  39%


    Do you approve that PM Abe stays in the position after September next year when the 2nd term of the presidency of the LDP expires?

    Yes: 43%

    No:  46%


    Countermeasure of Declining Population to be Launched


    PM Abe made it clear in the press conference of November 1 that his Cabinet would work on the issue of declining population and aging society from its social insurance perspectives.

    He implied a plan worth 2 trillion yen including free preschool education for all the 3 to 5 years old children (kindergartens and nursery schools) and for 0 to 2 years old of low-income families.

    Also, the plan is expected to include some investment to clear the issue of children on the waiting list (kindergartens and nursery schools) and free higher education for children of low-income families.

    Furthermore, the plan is to cover improving care workers’ pays, promoting recurrent education and higher education reform.

    All the necessary funding to implement this plan is to come from the scheduled increase of the consumption tax from 8% to 10% in October 2019.

    PM Abe told that the detail of the plan would be announced early next month.


    TPP 11 Reached Agreement In Principle


    NHK reported today that the TPP 11 nations (Japan, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Chili, and Peru) reached agreement in principle during the ministerial meeting held in Da-nang, Vietnam.

    Mr. Mogi, Minister in charge of Economic Revitalization chaired the ministerial meeting and told the story to NHK in the evening of November 10 right after the meeting ended.

    Japanese consumers will find Australian beef cheaper once the deal is implemented thanks to the scheduled reduction of the tariff from the present 38.5% to 27.5% and eventually to 9%.

    Likewise, New Zealand’s cheese will be cheaper thanks to the scheduled reduction of the tariff from the present 29.8% through various reduction steps to 0%.

  • 30 Oct 2017 by Global Chamber Tokyo

    PM Abe’s Triumph


    The snap election was held on Sunday the 22nd and the ruling parties, namely LDP and Komei dominated the seats of the House of Representatives as follows:


                             Before the election            after the election


    LDP                       290                                   284 (-6)

    Komei                     34                                      29 (-5)

    Hope                       57                                      50 (-7)

    CDPJ                        15                                      55 (+40)

    Communist            21                                      12

    Restoration             14                                      11


    CDP: Constitutional Democratic Party


    The total number of the members of the House of Representatives is reduced by 10 to 465 in this election as the result of the judiciary adjustment of the number of the members per constituency.

    The ruling parties namely LDP and Komei were able to share more than the two-third line (310) once again, which enables them to propose a Constitutional Amendment in the Diet.

    Now, CDJ became the leading opposition party but it is the weakest leading opposition party in terms of the number of the Lower House member ever since the end of the war.


    Post Election Approval Ratings


    On October 24 and 25, right after the snap election, Yomiuri conducted a public survey. 

    The following are main results (data in the parentheses are the results of the previous survey conducted on October 7 and 8):


    Do you approve the Abe Cabinet?                       Yes 52% (41%)               No 37% (46%)

    Was it good or bad that the ruling parties’ share is beyond the two-thirds of the total of the Lower House members?         Good 48%                       Bad 36%

    Which party do you approve most:       

    LDP 43%(33%),

    CDP 14% (4%),

    Hope 5% (8%),

    Komei 4% (3%),

    Communist 3%(3%),

    Restoration 2%(1%)


    Governor Koike Remains to be Party President


    According to Yomiuri, Governor Koike, who was interviewed by the former U.S. Ambassador to Japan Ms. Caroline Kennedy in Paris during her business trip, told that there was an “Iron Ceiling” in the national election of October 22.

    When she won the Tokyo Metropolitan Governor’s election, Gov. Koike said to the media that she broke through the glass ceiling, but this time, her party (Party of Hope) was completely defeated in the election of the House of Representative.

    On October 25, she came back from Paris and attended her party’s management meeting.

    She reportedly apologized to the members for the loss of the election saying that it is attributable to her careless statement that she would have tried to exclude the liberal side of the members of the Democratic Party.

    This statement may have led to the great advancement of Constitutional Democratic Party and 19 independent members, who originally belonged to the Democratic Party.

    Asked by the media if she would resign the Party President position, Gov. Koike replied that she would remain in the position because she needs to assume the responsibility of the founder of the Party.

    She said she would concentrate on the governor’s job, while the party’s national political activity should be led by the Party’s Diet members.


    President Trump’s First Visit to Japan


    President Trump and the First Lady will make their first official visit to Japan as Distinguished Official Guests Visiting on Business from November 5 through 7.

    The Emperor and Empress will receive the courtesy visit by the first couple and PM Abe will hold the fifth official face-to-face meeting with President Trump during his stay in Japan.

    PM Abe and President Trump will meet with some of the families whose children or brothers/sisters were abducted by North Korea and have not been returned to Japan yet.

    Also, the two leaders are going to play golf together with Japan’s top professional golfer Hideki Matsuyama.

    Around ten thousand police officers were called to downtown Tokyo to conduct a security check on the streets, stations and other public places.



    Have a wonderful weekend!

  • 16 Oct 2017 by Global Chamber Tokyo

     LDP To Remain In Power


    Yomiuri reported its monthly (October) survey result as follows (the figures in the parentheses are the September survey result):


    Do you approve PM Abe & Cabinet       Yes: 41% (43%)   No: 46% (46%)

    Your favorite political party:

    LDP 33% (32%)

    Party of Hope 8% (9%)

    the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan(Note 1) 4%

    Independents 38% (40%)


    (Note 1)

    The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ) was founded by Rep. Edano, who once assumed the Vice President of the Democratic Party after he lost the party presidency against Rep. Maehara in September this year.

    He left the party and founded CDPJ by grouping the liberal side of the Democratic Party members when President Maehara decided to bring all his party members under the endorsement of the newly founded Party of Hope.


    The survey expanded the questions to cover the respondents’ attitude on the upcoming general election of October 22.

    The result was as follows:

    Which party are you going to vote in the coming election for the Proportional Representation System(Note 2)?

    LDP 32% (34%)

    Hope 13% (19%)

    CDPJ 7%,

    Komei 5% (6%)

    Communist 4% (5%)

    Undecided 27% (25%)


    (Note 2)

    Voters cast two votes, one for a specific candidate in the voters’ individual districts (Single Seat Constituency System) and the other for a party (Proportional Representation System).


    What is your most comfortable administration structure?

    The present LDP+Komei coalition                                                           44%

    LDP + part of opposition parties on a policy cooperation basis         54%

    LDP alone                                                                                                     16%

    Coalition of the present opposition parties                                             20%


     Party of Hope Stalling/LDP Securing the Majority Yomiuri Forecast


    Yomiuri revealed its election forecast as of October 11 based on the aforementioned survey result coupled with its individual local branches’ interviews as follows:


    LDP: Surpassing the majority seats (233) and almost reaching the overwhelming majority (261) that chair all the standing committees.

    Hope: Despite the number of the candidates (198), they are mostly behind in most of the Single Seat Constituency Districts except for 7 districts, and the number of seats the party is expected to gain from the Proportional Representation System is less than 40 at this moment.

    CDPJ: Almost surpassing the line of 40 seats


    Yomiuri analyzed that anti-Abe/LDP voters tend to choose CDPJ as their nest instead of the Party of Hope. 

    The magnet of the Party of Hope is surely Governor Koike, but she decided not to run for this national election but to stay as Governor of Tokyo, meaning the party leader cannot become PM or form her Cabinet.

    Besides, the clear difference of campaign promises between LDP and Hope are mostly just two points as opposed to many for CDPJ.  Making the scheduled increase of the Consumption Tax from 8% to 10% to be a source of freeing the educational cost of small children (LDP promise) vs. cancelling the scheduled increase and staying at the current 8%(Hope), and keeping the nuclear power generation (LDP) vs. shutting down all the nuclear power plants by 2030.  


    Nikkei Marked Highest Since 1996


    Nikkei marked 20,881 yen on October 11, which is the highest ever since 1996.

    Export-oriented industries’ stock prices are on an upward trend thanks to the U.S. and steadily growing global economy coupled with relatively weak yen.

    But, in reality, it seems that the Government of Japan is now playing a major role of the investor in the stock exchange because the Bank of Japan has been heavily investing in Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) , while Incorporated Administrative Agency to manage public pension fund has been purchasing the substantial amount of listed stocks.

    The two organizations tripled the outstanding balance of the stock acquisition from 15 trillion yen (2012) to 51 trillion yen (2017).


    Tokyo Ranked #3 – Global City Power Index


    Mori Building Company’s research institute by the name of Institute of Urban Strategies of Mori Memorial Foundation released on October 12 this year’s Global City Power Index.

    The highest in the ranking was London, followed by New York, and Tokyo was ranked the 3rd.

    The institute evaluates 70 indices such as unemployment rate, longevity, river water quality, taxi fare, temperature and so forth to score six power factors, namely Economy, R&D, Cultural Interaction, Livability, environment, and Accessibility.

    44 major cities were selected for this ranking since 2008.


    For more detail, please visit the following link:

  • See more blogs...