1．Japan Coast Guard and Maritime Self-Defense Force Conduct Joint Drill
NHK reported on Dec 22 that Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) announced on the 22nd that two of its destroyers participated in a joint drill with patrol vessels of Japan Coast Guard. The training took place east of Izu Oshima, with the participation of the destroyers “Takanami” and “Yamagiri” from the Maritime Self-Defense Force and the patrol vessels “Buko” and “Aguni” from the Japan Coast Guard. The Aguni belongs to the Ishigaki Maritime Safety Department in Okinawa Prefecture and is usually used to deal with ships of CCP China around the Senkaku Islands. It is unusual for the implementation of a joint drill between the Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Japan Coast Guard, which is believed to assume that CCP China ships will approach the Senkaku Islands, to be made public.
2．37 New Infections in Tokyo, Hospital Admissions Nearly Double from Last Week
TBS reported on Dec 23, the number of newly CCP Virus (COVID-19) infected announced by the Tokyo Government on March 23 was 37, surpassing that of the same day of the previous week for the sixth consecutive day. The number of hospitalized patients has nearly doubled from 80 to 155 compared to a week ago. 33 new Omicron variant infections have been found at the airport quarantine alone. By prefecture, Kanagawa Prefecture has 37 cases, the same number as Tokyo. In Osaka and Kyoto, where community-acquired cases of the Omicron are known, 33 and 10 people have been reported, respectively. Two new deaths have been announced.
3．Merck’s COVID Drug: Europe Divided on Response
NHK reported on Dec 23: The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) will review the approval of the CCP Virus (COVID-19) drug developed by Merck, a major U.S. pharmaceutical company, on 24. The U.K. has decided to sign an additional contract to cope with the rapid increase in the number of infected people, while France has cancelled the order because the drug was not as effective as initially expected in clinical trials. According to the U.S. pharmaceutical giant Merck, clinical trials of the drug Mornupiravir have shown that it reduces the risk of hospitalization and death by about 30%, and the company has signed contracts in more than 30 countries. European Medicines Agency (EMA), the EU’s drug regulator, announced last month that the drug can be used in emergencies, but it is currently under review for approval.
4．Nippon Steel Corporation filed a lawsuit against Mitsui & Co.
According to NHK on Dec 23, it has been learned that Nippon Steel Corporation has filed a lawsuit against Mitsui & Co. in the Tokyo District Court for allegedly infringing on its patent rights for special steel materials used in hybrid vehicle (HV) motors and other products. It is believed that Mitsui is involved in a deal between Toyota Motor Corporation and China’s steel giant Baoshan Iron & Steel, which Nittetsu sued over the patent rights in October. According to the official, Nittetsu has filed a patent infringement injunction against Mitsui & Co. Nittetsu has a close relationship with Mitsui, investing in and operating a trading company that handles steel products together with Mitsui. Nittetsu has taken the stance that it will not tolerate patent infringement even by its major business partner, Toyota, and its close friend, Mitsui.
5．BOJ: Support Financial Institutions’ Investment and Lending in Response to Climate Change
NHK reported on Dec 23 that Bank of Japan (BOJ) will provide new funds to support investment and lending by private banks and other financial institutions in response to climate change issues for the first time on 24. BOJ will lend the funds at a 0% interest rate to financial institutions to support their climate change loans and investments. According to BOJ, it will lend a total of 2.483 trillion yen to the 2.476 trillion yen made by these financial institutions as of the end of September this year. The term of the loan is until January 30 next year, and Bank of Japan plans to supply funds twice a year in principle.
6．BOJ Governor Kuroda: “Overall, the Benefits of a Weaker Yen Are Greater”
NHK reported on Dec 23 that Bank of Japan Governor Kuroda, speaking at a meeting of the Keidanren (Japan Business Federation), said that the yen’s depreciation”may have a growing negative impact on household income through higher prices” but reiterated his recognition that the overall benefits are greater. Governor Kuroda pointed out that imports account for a growing share of goods consumed domestically and said of the recent depreciation of the yen in the foreign exchange market, “We can confirm that the depreciation of the yen has had a stronger effect in recent years in pushing up the prices of durable consumer goods”. As a result, it is possible that the negative impact on household income through higher prices has also strengthened. On the other hand, Governor Kuroda said, “The effect of a weaker yen on the earnings of overseas businesses is greater than before.”
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Proofreading: Seentiz Homma (帆間知津)
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