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1. Total Number of Infected People in Japan Exceeds 2 Million

According to Asahi news, the total number of people infected with the CCP Virus (COVID-19) in Japan exceeded 2 million on the 20th. It took one year and seven months from the first case in January 2020 to August 2021, when the number of people infected reached one million, but it took just over five months then the number of people infected reached two million.  On Jan 20th, 46,199 people were reported to be infected by 8:30 p.m., breaking the record number for the third consecutive day. 9 deaths were reported.

2. Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman Mimura Calls for Continuation of Vaccine Pass Policy in Principle

According to NHK on Jan 20th, regarding the government’s decision not to apply for the “Vaccine and Inspection Package”, which eases restrictions on activities by confirming proof of vaccination, etc., in principle, Mr. Mimura, President of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, called for the package to be continued in principle at a regular press conference on April 20. Mr. Mimura said, “There have been negative things about suspending the vaccine and testing package, but I wanted them to announce that they would maintain and strengthen this package. He added, “I think we agree with the government and others that we not only want to put prevention of the infection at the forefront, but we also want to be compatible with social and economic activities. In the past two years, the medical system has been extremely improved, and the functions of public health centers have been strengthened considerably. The results of these efforts will be seen in this sixth wave, and the situation is different from the past.”

3. Japan Self-Defense Force Dispatches Aircraft and Naval Vessels to Support Tonga

According to JIJI News, on Jan 20, Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi announced the dispatch of two Air Self-Defense Force C-130 transport planes to assist the South Pacific island nation of Tonga. The planes, carrying drinking water, will leave for Australia the same night and is scheduled to arrive on the 21st. The Maritime Self-Defense Force’s transport ship “OHSUMI” will also be sent to Tonga soon to carry large supplies. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said at a plenary session of the House of Councilors on 20 that the government would “work closely with related countries such as Australia and New Zealand to respond to the situation” regarding aid to Tonga. The government has also announced its plan to provide emergency grant aid of more than $1 million (about 114 million yen).

4. Japan’s Exports, Imports Hit Record Highs in December

According to Kyodo, preliminary data released by the Finance Ministry, exports jumped 17.5 percent from a year earlier to 7.9 trillion yen ($69 billion), up for the 10th straight month, while imports surged 41.1 percent to 8.5 trillion yen, up for the 11th consecutive month. As a result, Japan marked a goods trade deficit of 582.4 billion yen in December, for the fifth straight month of red ink. By item, exports of automobiles rose 17.5 percent from a year earlier, while iron exports swelled 75.1 percent.

5. JR East to Have a System of Leave of Absence for up to Two Years

According to Kyodo on Jan 20, JR East plans to establish a new leave of absence system in April for up to two years for all employees. It will be unpaid, but will cover study abroad, acquisition of qualifications and infertility treatment. In March, the company will also ease the conditions for employees who use the bullet train or express trains for commuting. JR East aims to reduce the turnover rate by promoting this initiative.

6. Takara Shuzo to Raise Prices of Distilled Spirit and Cocktails from June

According to NHK on Jan 20th, Takara Shuzo has announced that it will raise the prices of a total of 220 products, including some Shochu (distilled spirit) and canned cocktails, from June this year due to the rising cost of raw materials. The price increase ranges from 1% to 8% and covers about 20% of the products. Mainly due to the soaring price of alcohol, a raw material imported from overseas, and rising transportation costs.

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