1. The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare Has Raised Its Vigilance on “Serious Adverse Reactions” to Vaccines
The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has decided to raise the alert level for myocarditis and pericarditis from the usual warning to “serious adverse reactions,” diseases that are reported more frequently than expected in young men after receiving vaccines against the CCP virus produced by Pfizer and Modena, Kyodo News reported on Dec. 3. The decision was approved by a special committee of the Ministry of Houlao, analyzing the adverse reactions. On the other hand, myocarditis and different adverse reactions can be complications of new CCP virus infections and are known to occur more frequently than after vaccination.
2. Japan to Launch Facial Recognition Vaccine Inspection System
Japan’s NEC Corp. said the technology company would begin full-scale introducing a facial recognition-based authentication system for vaccination against the CCP virus, Kyodo News reported Dec. 3. The company expects the system to be used at tourist attractions and event venues to help ease congestion and reduce labor costs. Consenting users will need to register their vaccination history and submit a photo of their face to use the system, which will scan them with a camera at the entrance to the venue and confirm their vaccination status in seconds. According to the NEC, the technology is 99.9 percent accurate even when users wear masks.
3. Beverage Companies Step up Development of Environmentally Friendly Containers
Amid calls for companies to respond to the needs of a decarbonized society, major beverage makers are stepping up efforts to develop new environmentally friendly containers, such as PET bottles and cups that do not use petroleum-based materials, NHK reported on Dec. 3. Suntory Holdings Ltd. has developed a prototype of a 100% plant-sourced PET bottle made from crushed wood chips and sugar cane lees, which was unveiled to the public on the 3rd. The company aims to commercialize the product as soon as possible, by 2030, and the executive in charge of the development said, “I think the product will contribute to decarbonization.”
4. All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines Resume Accepting New Flight Reservations for Arrivals in Japan
Major airlines ANA and Japan Airlines have resumed accepting new reservations for flights arriving in Japan starting at midnight on the 4th, after the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism withdrew its request for airlines to suspend all new reservations for international flights arriving in Japan, NHK reported on Dec. 4. This means that airlines will make new reservations for flights arriving in Japan until the daily limit of about 3,500 people is reached. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism had asked airlines to suspend new bookings for all international flights arriving in Japan until the end of this month as part of measures to strengthen the fight against the spread of the Omicron strain.
5. OECD Report on Japan: Not Appropriate to Reduce Monetary Easing Early
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report on Japan’s economic review released on Wednesday summarizes the current status and challenges of Japan’s fiscal, monetary, and energy policies, Reuters reported on Dec. 3. The report says it is appropriate not to reduce the Bank of Japan’s monetary easing too soon. In addition, it outlines several options for fiscal consolidation, including a 1 percent increase in the consumption tax rate and a carbon tax. On the outlook for prices, the report said, “Prices will remain below the (2 percent) price target for the foreseeable future. On fiscal policy, the report praised the current economic stimulus but expressed concern about the risk of a “snowball” effect of rising interest rates on Japan’s debt and noted the need for fiscal consolidation.
6. Drugmaker Merck Group Seeks Approval of First Oral Drug for CCP Virus in Japan
The Japanese arm of U.S. pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. has applied for state approval to manufacture and sell an oral drug for the CCP Virus. If approved, it could be the first such drug used in Japan, Kyodo News reported Dec. 3. The drug would prevent the virus from entering or multiplying in the body. The Japanese government has agreed with Merck to purchase 1.6 million doses and plans to make the oral drug available by the end of this year. The drug, which can be taken at home, is considered by Japan to be the key to fighting pandemics.
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