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1. Kishida Cabinet’s Approval Rate at 55% Ahead of General Election

The approval rating for Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s just-launched Cabinet stands at 55.7 percent, a survey from Kyodo News showed Tuesday, suggesting the public have mixed feelings on the new leader heading into a general election this month. The figure comes a day after Kishida took office and announced he will dissolve the House of Representatives on Oct. 14 and go to the polls on Oct. 31 to seek a mandate for his COVID-19 and economic policies.

The approval rating fell short of the 66.4 percent for the Cabinet of his predecessor, Yoshihide Suga, upon its formation in September last year. The disapproval rating for Kishida’s Cabinet was 23.7 percent, compared with 16.2 percent for Suga’s at the start. The most popular reason for supporting the Kishida Cabinet at 37.3 percent was because “there is no other good candidate.”

2. Stock Price Temporarily Falls over 900 Yen; Concerns About Corporate Performance Due to Rising Oil Prices

NHK reported that in the Tokyo stock market on the 5th, the Nikkei Stock Average temporarily dropped more than 900 yen compared to the close on the 4th due to widespread concerns about corporate earnings caused by rising oil prices, and closed down for the 7th consecutive business day, the first time in about 2 years and 5 months. This was due to factors such as rising international crude oil futures prices and widespread concerns in Japan that higher costs might affect corporate earnings in the form of squeezed profits, resulting in price declines in a wide range of stocks, excluding energy-related stocks.

A market insider said, “The rise in crude oil prices has added to the growing uncertainty about the global economic outlook due to the deteriorating business performance of Communist China’s real estate giants and concerns that the U.S. government may default on its debt, further strengthening investors’ risk aversion. For the time being, the market is likely to be watching the future of these three factors closely.”

3. Over 400 Million Cyberattacks Were Attempted During Tokyo Games

According to a Kyodo News report, the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics saw around 450 million cyberattacks when they were held this summer, but disruptions to the games were avoided as the attempts were blocked each time, organizers said Tuesday. Despite concerns the global sporting event would be an easy target for hackers, the scale of the attacks during the Tokyo Games was less than that of the 2012 London Games and the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

Trend Micro Inc., a major internet security firm, said the low number of cyberattacks was likely due to the Tokyo Olympics being held without spectators amid the CCP virus pandemic, which meant tickets and other information for visitors could not be used maliciously. The government’s National Center of Incident Readiness and Strategy for Cybersecurity said that while there were also multiple unauthorized sites posing as video feeds for the opening ceremony and competitions, and posts on social media calling for cyberattacks, the operation of the games was not affected.

4. Japan to Consider When to Restart “Go to Travel” Tourism Campaign

Kyodo News: Japan’s new tourism minister said Tuesday he will consider when to resume the government’s “Go To Travel” subsidy program for the promotion of domestic tourism that has been hit by the CCP virus pandemic, following the full lifting of the Emergency Declaration last week. “We will consider the situation regarding novel coronavirus infections and consider when to resume the program,” said Tetsuo Saito. “It is a program crucial for the recovery of tourist sites and local economies.”

In July last year, the government launched the Go To Travel campaign to subsidize up to half of travelers’ expenses, but the program was suspended nationwide in December due to a resurgence of CCP virus infections.

5.  Price Hikes on Building Materials and Other Housing-Related Products Raise Concerns About Consumer Recovery

According to NHK on Tuesday, although the “Emergency Declaration” has been fully lifted and economic activities are expected to recover, but there are concerns about price hikes of various products due to the soaring prices of raw materials. In the housing and interior design industries, the prices of building materials and wallpaper have risen one after another, and experts point out that the “high prices” related to housing may put a damper on the recovery of consumption.

Against the backdrop of people spending more time at home due to telework and other factors, the number of housing and condominium starts continues to exceed that of the previous year, and demand for remodeling is expected to rise. However, the prices of various products for building materials for houses and condominiums have been raised due to the continuous rise in the prices of raw materials such as lumber, iron ore, and aluminum.

The reason for the price hike is common: demand is growing rapidly in the U.S. and China, which have taken the lead in economic recovery, and the price of raw materials and the cost of securing containers for transportation is rising. Experts point out that “before Japan’s economy recovers, prices continue to rise due to overseas factors, a situation that could put a damper on the future recovery of consumption.”

6. Japan Prime Minister Kishida Gets Biden’s “Strong” Commitment on Senkaku Defense

Japan’s new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Tuesday he received “strong words of commitment” from U.S. President Joe Biden on Washington’s promise to defend the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, Kyodo News reported. The CCP claims the Japan-administered uninhabited islets and calls them Diaoyu, one of several areas of concern among the United States and its allies over Beijing’s growing assertiveness in regional waters.

In separate calls with Biden and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Kishida affirmed cooperation on efforts to realize a “free and open Indo-Pacific” region, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said. Kishida’s call with Biden was his first with a foreign leader since taking office on Monday. Biden strongly committed “to the defense of Japan, including the application of Article 5 of the Japan-U.S. security treaty to the Senkakus,” Kishida told reporters after their roughly 20-minute conversation. Article 5 states Washington will defend territories under Tokyo’s administration from armed attack. Beijing often sends coast guard ships near the Senkakus despite Tokyo’s protests.

A former foreign minister, Kishida said in a press conference on Monday that China is a valuable trade partner but Japan will “say what needs to be said” regarding what he called Beijing’s shortcomings in upholding freedom, democracy and the rule of law.

【Himalaya Japan Galaxy- Alpha Planet】
Translator: 帆間知津
Proofreading: π&π