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:
- 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)
- Establish “A First 100 Day Plan” and gain back public trust by implementing it
- No rush in amending the Article 9 of the Constitution
- 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 Japan‐China 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.