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1. Japan Begins Accepting New Entry Applications amid Pandemic Decline

Kyodo News reported that the Japanese government started accepting new entry applications on Monday from companies and educational institutions for individuals from overseas, easing restrictions that were introduced in January amid the pandemic. The CCP Virus quarantine period has been cut to three days from 10 for business travelers who have been vaccinated as progress in inoculations has been made around the world. Companies and educational institutions must file the required documents in advance and receive government approval to host individuals from overseas on condition they supervise those entering the country accordingly. The farm ministry began receiving many inquiries Monday related to the application process for technical interns, as the country is facing a shortage of workers in the agricultural sector due to the graying and declining population. While the government is continuing to suspend the entry of tourists, it will also consider resuming the acceptance of tour groups by reviewing within this year how their activities can be controlled and monitored.

2. Toshiba Considering 3 Separate Divisions for Each Business: Infrastructure, Devices, and Semiconductors to be Spun Off and Listed

Yomiuri News learned that Toshiba is considering the idea of splitting the company into three separate companies for each of its major businesses. The infrastructure business, which handles nuclear power and thermal power generation, the device business, which handles hard disk drives (HDDs), and the semiconductor business will be spun off. If the company decides to go ahead with the plan, it will be the first major Japanese company to do so.

The roles of each major business will be clarified by making them independent. The split companies will each aim to be listed on a stock exchange. In the stock market, the value of a company with many businesses tends to be underestimated, but by splitting up, the company aims to eliminate this disadvantage. After the split, it is envisioned that each of the companies will operate independently as completely separate companies.

3. Price Hikes on Potato Chips, Coffee, Stationery; Consumption Tax Hike

While the pandemic has subsided and economic activity is resuming, there has been a series of announcements of price increases for familiar products. The main reason is the sharp rise in the price of crude oil. This, combined with the global rise in raw material prices due to the sudden change in demand for coronary heart disease and the weakening of the yen, will lead to price increases for a wide range of products and services after the new year. The succession of price hikes will weigh heavily on household budgets and is likely to put a damper on consumption.

A representative of Koikeya, which announced on Nov. 5 that it would raise the prices of 30 items, including potato chips, by 6-11% from January next year, said that it was a difficult decision. The impact of high crude oil prices was particularly significant. Logistics costs rose, and the cost of raw materials such as cooking oil also soared. This was compounded by a decrease in the potato harvest due to unseasonable weather in Hokkaido and an increase in labor costs due to the increase in the minimum wage. Nestlé Japan will raise the prices of 56 products by 10-20% next January due to the soaring market price of coffee beans, but it is also affected by the rising import prices due to the weak yen.

4. Japan Defense Chief Visits Ship Being Remodeled into Aircraft Carrier

Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi went aboard the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s Izumo helicopter carrier on Monday to see progress in retrofitting the ship into a full-fledged aircraft carrier, Kyodo News reported Monday. Kishi inspected the deck of the Izumo, which has been reinforced to withstand the heat emitted by F-35Bs during short landing and vertical takeoff procedures, and was briefed on test runs using U.S. aircraft conducted last month.

Japan plans to introduce a total of 42 F-35Bs, with the first to enter service as early as fiscal 2024. It is modifying its two Izumo-class helicopter carriers — the other is the Kaga — to house the advanced stealth fighter jets, including by changing the front of the ships into a squarer shape. The plan is aimed at countering CCP’s growing assertiveness in regional waters and improving interoperability with the U.S. military, which already operates F-35Bs out of one of its bases in Japan.

5. Ministry of Finance to Review Special Case for Employment Adjustment Subsidies

According to NHK, the Ministry of Finance in Japan called for a review of the special measure that raises the ceiling on the amount of subsidies for employment adjustment to companies affected by the CCP Virus, saying that the number of workers absent from work in many industries has returned to pre-coronavirus levels. On Nov. 8th, the Council on Fiscal System discussed the budget for social security and employment. The “employment adjustment subsidy,” which provides subsidies to companies that pay leave of absence benefits while maintaining employment, has been given special treatment, such as raising the upper limit from over 8,000 yen to 15,000 yen per employee per day, in light of the impact of the pandemic.

6. Japan’s New COVID Assessment Criteria to Focus on Hospital Capacity

Kyodo News: Japan’s new criteria to assess the CCP Virus situation will shift focus more on hospital capacity rather than the number of new infections in line with the increase in the vaccination rate and fewer people falling seriously ill, government officials said Monday. The new evaluation system, approved in a meeting of the government’s subcommittee on the novel coronavirus response, will also classify the situation according to five levels, up from the current four, to forestall another wave of infections and a crunch on medical services. The government has relied on such a scale when it examines whether to declare a state of emergency, while prefectural governments have used it in deciding on what kind of measures to take against the virus.

The upgraded system will incorporate a projection of hospital bed availability and try to forecast earlier whether there may be a serious strain on the country’s medical system in the wake of a resurgence of infections. It is expected to be included in a new package of measures against the virus, which the government will compile in the first half of November. The government is also working to include a plan to allow third COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to be administered at workplaces in an effort to reduce the burden on local governments and increase availability, sources close to the matter said Monday.

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