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1. Why the Trade Deficit Widen? Concerns About High Resource Prices and the Weak Yen

The trade balance deficit, which is exports subtracts imports, is ballooning. In addition to soaring resource prices, the weak yen has increased import costs, reported by JIJI News agency on May 17. Because of economic activity, which had been stagnant due to the spread of the CCP virus (new coronavirus COVID-19), has resumed worldwide, leading to increased consumption of crude oil and other energy sources and a corresponding increase in prices. The invasion of Ukraine by Russia has pushed up the price of crude oil and other energy resources, and there is a risk that the trade deficit will be prolonged. If imports exceed exports, this will lead to an outflow of income overseas. The rising cost of imported raw materials through a weaker yen will put pressure on corporate profits. There are also concerns that households will be hit by higher prices for gasoline, food, and other items.

2. Aftereffects of Omicron “May Be Prolonged” and “Elimination of Virus-Infected ” Is Extremely Rare

Tele Asa News reported on May 17 that the latest research has revealed that patients suffering from the aftereffects of the Omicron variant may take longer to recover because their bodies do not produce enough immune cells to eliminate the virus that has invaded their bodies. Professor Hideki Ueno of Kyoto University has analyzed the blood of approximately 2,500 patients suffering from the aftereffects to examine the function of immune cells that eliminate virus-infected and suppress the immune system’s runaway activity. As a result, it was found that patients with sequelae of the Omicron variant have extremely low numbers of immune cells that eliminate viruses compared to patients with conventional variant such as the Delta.

3. Top IAEA Official to Visit Japan Tomorrow to Inspect Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant

NHK reported on May 17, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Dr. José Manuel Grossi, held a press conference prior to his visit to Japan on May 18, where he will inspect the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant and use his visit to evaluate TEPCO’s plan to discharge treated water that continues to accumulate at the plant into the sea. Mr. Grossi stated that “Japan is one of the few countries with which we have a very close relationship” and expressed his hope to strengthen ties with Japan for nuclear safety.

4. 200 Ukrainian Displaced Persons Accepted or Consulted for Schooling

NHK reported on May 17 that a survey by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) found that a total of 200 children evacuated from Ukraine to Japan are studying at elementary, junior and high schools or seeking advice on school enrollment, as well as university students. Last month, the MEXT notified boards of education and other organizations throughout Japan that to ensure learning opportunities for children and students evacuated from Ukraine, they should make flexible use of systems that support the cost of school lunches and school supplies for elementary and junior high school students, and systems that exempt high school tuition fees.

5. Goto Minister of Health, Labor, and Welfare: Discards Vaccines “Without Conducting a Fact-Finding Survey or Collecting them”

According to Sankei News, at a press conference following the Cabinet meeting on March 17, Minister of Health, Labor, and Welfare Shigeyuki Goto addressed the issue of a series of discards of expired vaccines in various regions, saying, “At this time, we will not conduct a survey of the actual number of discards because it would be a burden on medical facilities. We will not collect the expired vaccines”. He continued, “We are delivering sufficient quantities of vaccines to each municipality, but it is difficult to collect vaccines that have already been distributed and redistribute them overseas. We request that each municipality promote vaccination and make effective use of the vaccines as close to the expiration date as possible”.

6. Pilot Tours for a Small Number of Foreigners from 4 Countries to Visit Japan to Be Held This Month

NHK reported on May 17 that concerning the resumption of acceptance of foreign tourists, Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Saito announced to accept small-group tours to Japan on a trial basis to demonstrate infection prevention measures from four countries, including the US, and to do so this month. The government is considering resuming the acceptance of foreign tourists in phases starting next month, after carefully assessing the infection situation both domestic and abroad. It has decided to accept tourists from the four countries of the US, Australia, Thailand and Singapore, who have received three doses of the vaccine, as the infection situation is relatively calm.

【Himalaya Japan Galaxy- Alpha Planet】

Translator: Tagomi

Proofreading: Tagomi