1. Japan’s Consumer Price Index Stops Falling in August
Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications announced that August’s national consumer price index was 99.8, unchanged from a year earlier, and stopped falling this month, Kyodo News reported on Sept. 25. The main reason for the decline in the index is the reduction in cell phone communication fees. However, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications head pointed out that “cell phone tariffs, Go To Travel and other policy factors have had an impact,” and analyzed that “excluding external factors, prices are probably on an upward path.
By individual category, lodging costs rose 46.6%, the most significant increase, significantly contributing to the climb. Kerosene and gasoline rose 20.0% and 16.9%, respectively. Electricity rates have increased again since September 2019.
2. Japan, U.S., Australia and India to Hold Talks to Promote Economic and Security Cooperation
According to Kyodo News, the heads of Japan, the U.S., Australia, and India will hold their first direct meeting in Washington, D.C., in the early morning hours of the 25th Japan time. In addition to agreeing on strengthening the semiconductor supply chain, the conference will include consultations on expanding infrastructure development in developing countries and promoting economic security cooperation.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga plans to reduce dependence on Communist China for semiconductors and vital mineral resources. There is also an intention to counter the CCP, striving to become a space power by 2030, by strengthening space cooperation, with the four countries leading international rule-making in space.
3. Political Party Subsidies Total of 32.3 Billion Yen in Funds Accumulated Without Being Fully Used by Each Party In Japan
NHK reported that political party subsidies are given to parties registered under the law in proportion to the number of Diet members and the votes they receive in national elections. The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, based on reports from the various parties, has compiled a list of expenditures and found that the total amount of political party subsidies spent by each party over the last year was 23.1 billion yen, a decrease of 12.6 billion yen, or 35.3%, from the year before the House of Councillors election.
Political party subsidies can also be set aside as a fund instead of being used up in a given year. As a result of a decrease in spending by many parties last year, the total balance of each party’s fund increased by 36.6% from the previous year to a record 32.3 billion yen at the end of last year.
4. The CCP virus reduces the need to eat out, leading to a surplus of rice
Rice harvesting in Hokkaido has entered the final stage. Due to the CCP virus, the demand for restaurants has decreased, the price of rice is on a downward trend. Stocks of aged rice are also increasing, and farmers are working hard to develop demand. However, there are already a lot of old rice stocks in warehouses in each region.As of the end of October, Hokuren Agricultural Cooperative is expected to carry over 59,000 tons of old rice carryover inventory. The stock of new rice at harvest is said to be more than three times that of normal years.
According to relevant sources, the production of branded rice “Seven Stars” produced in 2021 is expected to be 11,000 yen per 60 kg, a decrease of 2,200 yen from the previous year. In 20 years, the output fell by 300 yen to 13,200 yen, but the decline has been significantly expanded. Some people are concerned that the fall in rice prices will affect production momentum. There are more elderly farmers and a series of abandonment may occur.
5.Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare: “Most Regions Are Approaching the Criteria for Lifting the Ban”
Regarding the declaration of a state of emergency, which is set to expire at the end of September, Health Minister Tamura presented the current outlook. According to NHK, on the 24th, the number of newly infected people in Japan totaled 2,093, including 235 in Tokyo, 251 in Kanagawa Prefecture, and 240 in Osaka Prefecture, continuing a downward trend in the number of infected people. On the other hand, among the 19 prefectures where declarations have been issued, only Tokyo is at Stage 4 regarding the utilization rate of critical care beds.
The Minister of Health, Labor, and Welfare Tamura said, “Considering the number of days until the (declaration) is lifted, if the downward trend (of new infections) continues, we will be approaching one criterion for lifting the declaration in most areas.”
6. Panasinic, over 1,000 Employees to Take Early Retirement
Kyodo News learned that on September 24, more than 1,000 people would be retiring from Panasonic’s early retirement program in Japan at the end of September. Employees who have been with the company for ten years or more will be eligible for the extra retirement benefits. To improve the company’s profitability, the plan aims to stimulate the metabolism of human resources and revitalize the organization.
The resignation is effective on September 30. In an interview in March this year, the executive in charge of human resources explained that “the purpose is not to reduce the workforce” and did not indicate the expected number of employees. As of the end of June, Panasonic had about 240,000 consolidated employees worldwide. Of these, around 100,000 were in Japan.
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