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1.British PM Cancels Visit to Japan as Ukraine Tensions Rise

On Jan. 31, Kyodo News learned that British Prime Minister Johnson had canceled his scheduled visit to Japan in mid-February to meet with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. The Japanese and British governments had been coordinating the visit, but the British side requested the cancellation due to the growing tension in Ukraine. Some government officials have revealed this. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary explained at a press conference on 31th, “Our country attaches great importance to our relationship with the United Kingdom as a global strategic partner.”

2The Governor of Tamaki, Okinawa, Expressed Concern About Lifting the Restrictions

Okinawa TV reported that the U.S. military in Japan lifted its restriction on going out on January 31. The restriction was in response to the spread of the CCP Virus (COVID-19). However, the Governor of Tamaki, Okinawa, announced that he had asked the U.S. military to extend the restrictions until February 20. He said, “The situation is still not completely under control, with the number of U.S. troops still in triple digits these days.”

3.First Survey by the Ministry of Education, A Shortage of 2,558 Teachers Across Japan

The Sankei News reported on Jan. 31 that according to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology, the number of teachers assigned to public elementary, junior high, high schools, and special-needs schools nationwide at the beginning of this school year was 2,558 short of the number planned by each board of education. This applies to 1,897 schools or 5.8% of the total. The harsh reality of the teachers’ work environment was revealed. The competitive rate for teacher recruitment examinations held by prefectural boards of education in 2020 was also released. The national average for elementary schools was 2.6 times, down 0.1 percentage points from the previous year and the lowest ever.

4Kowa Confirms Ivermectine Effects on Omicron Strains

According to Reuters on Jan.31, Ivermectine, which is undergoing phase III clinical trials as a treatment for the CCP Virus (COVID-19) infections, Kowa announced that joint research (non-clinical trials) with Kitasato University has confirmed that the antiviral effect of Ivermectine against the Omicron strain is equivalent to that of existing mutant strains such as the Delta strain. Ivermectine is a drug developed based on the research of Kitasato University’s Distinguished Professor Satoshi Omura, who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2015. It is used mainly in African countries as a treatment for parasitic infections.

5“Price Hike in February” for Frozen foods… and Electricity Rates

FNN reported on Jan 31 that in frozen foods, Nippon Suisan and Ajinomoto Frozen Foods will raise prices by about 4% to 13%, Maruha Nichiro and Nipun will also raise prices, and Nippon Ham and Prima Ham will raise prices (5% to 12%) in ham, sausage, and processed foods. For pasta and pasta sauce, Nissin Flour WELNA (about 3% to 9%) and Kibun will raise their prices of surimi products (about 8% on average). In addition, Koikeya will increase the price of potato chips and other products by about 6% to 11%, while canola oil, salad oil, jam and whip, and soy sauce will also continue to see price increases. Furthermore, electricity rates for February will also be raised by all ten major electric power companies (up 78 yen to 351 yen), and four major gas companies will also increase gas rates (up 205 yen to 274 yen).

6Japan Tourism Agency : Domestic Guests in 2021 Lowest for Two Consecutive Years, Down 47% from Before Pandemic

Kyodo News reported on Jan. 31 that, according to the preliminary lodging travel statistics released by the Japan Tourism Agency, the number of people who stayed at inns and hotels in Japan in 2021 decreased by 4.8% from the previous year to a total of 315.75 million. This is the second year in a row that the number of people staying at inns and hotels in Japan has fallen to its lowest level since 2011, the last year for which comparisons can be made. In terms of the breakdown of the number of people staying overnight, the number of Japanese people increased by 0.1% from 2020 to 311.54 million. On the other hand, the number of foreigners was 4.21 million, down 79.3% from 2020.

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