1. Japan to Extend Missile Range to Korean Peninsula and Shanghai
The Japanese government plans to expand the range of its cruise missiles currently under development to more than 1,000 kilometers, Chosun Ilbo reported on Dec. 4. The logic behind this is to strengthen deterrence against threats from North Korea, Communist China, and other countries, but some point out that this would violate the principle of exclusive defense. After Japan’s defeat in World War II, the constitution stipulated that Japan would use only minimal defensive forces in an armed attack by a foreign power. However, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, led by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, is keen to change this law because it has proposed an increase in defense spending to at least 2 percent of GDP. The Defense Ministry plans to increase the Type 12 surface-to-ship missile range, a cruise missile being developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, to more than 1,000 kilometers and deploy it by the end of 2020. Japan’s current cruise missile fleet has a range of about 100 kilometers.
2. Negotiations on Property Tax Waivers by the Ruling Party Have Stalled
The Yomiuri Shimbun reported on Dec. 4 that negotiations between the LDP and Komeito on a property tax measure that would keep the same amount as in fiscal 2020 if the tax is increased are entering their final stage. The LDP wants to end the special in FY21 due to the recovery of corporate earnings, while Komeito says ending the provision would increase the tax burden on corporations by as much as 110 billion yen a year. The property tax is levied on land and buildings in residential and commercial areas. However, the government has decided to reduce the tax by 1 percent if property taxes increase compared with 20 years due to the epidemic. On Wednesday, the Liberal Democratic Party said that it would review the assessment every three years.
3. Japanese Government Requires Airlines to Report International Flight Reservations Daily
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism has asked airlines to submit daily updates on flight numbers and bookings for international flights arriving in Japan, in line with measures to strengthen measures against the Omicron strain, a new variant of the Chugoku-like virus, Kyodo News reported on Dec. 4. The request covers bookings through Jan. 31 of next year. In addition, the government has placed a global ban on new foreign nationals, reducing the number allowed in from 5,000 to 3,500 per day.
4. Aircraft Fuel Tax Breaks to Be Reduced
The government has decided to extend the aviation fuel tax relief program until the end of next year but reduce the reduction size, NNN reported on Dec. 4. The aviation fuel tax is levied on fuel used for domestic flights. Since April this year, the tax has been cut to 9,000 yen per 1,000 liters, half of the previous year, to support airlines whose performance has deteriorated due to the epidemic. However, the government has decided to raise the price to 13,000 yen per 1,000 liters, extending it by one year until the end of fiscal 2022.
5. Japan Establishes Fund to Attract Overseas Semiconductor Factories
To encourage overseas semiconductor companies to make capital investments in Japan, the Japanese government has decided to revise the relevant laws and set up a fund to support approved companies to help them set up factories in Japan; the Yomiuri Shimbun reported on Dec. 4. Kishida’s Cabinet is committed to strengthening economic security and aims to secure the supply of semiconductors. The amendments will revise the Law for the Promotion of the Development and Supply of Systems Using Specified Advanced Information and Communication Technologies and the Organic Law for New Energy and Industrial Technology Development. The Cabinet will soon approve the amended bills and submit them to the extraordinary Diet session on the 6th. A total of 617 billion yen is earmarked for this purpose in this year’s supplementary budget.
6. Japan Extends Stricter Quarantine Rules to India, Greece, Romania
Japanese nationals and foreign residents from India, Greece, Romania, and the U.S. states of Colorado, Hawaii, Minnesota, and New York will be required to spend three days of a two-week quarantine period at government-designated facilities Kyodo News reported on Dec. 4. Several countries, including Austria, Ecuador, and France, already have the same three-day rule in place, and dozens more are undergoing stricter quarantine requirements, such as keeping travelers in government-designated facilities for ten days.
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