1. Japan Announces Relaxation of Entry Restrictions to 20,000 per Day from June
NHK reported on May 22 that the Chief Cabinet Secretary announced at a press conference that the current daily entry limit of 10,000 people will be increased to 20,000 from May 1 next month. The airport quarantine system will also be relaxed according to the positive rate of tests conducted upon entry, and will be divided into three groups: entrants from the group with the lowest positive rate will be exempted from inspection and waiting, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated or not; the next lowest group will be exempted from inspection if they have completed three vaccinations; and the remaining group will continue to be subject to inspection and waiting measures. Among them, about 100 countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, are on the list of measures such as exemption from inspection.
2. Japan-U.S. Summit Talks to Increase Defense Spending, Cooperate to Deal with Communist China
According to TV Asahi, President Biden will visit Japan on the evening of May 22. Prime Minister Kishida is expected to announce an increase in Japan’s defense spending at the summit with President Biden. In light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the main topic of the summit is aimed at building a U.S.-Japanese alliance to cooperate in dealing with Communist China. In addition, both sides will reiterate the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and note that “Europe and Indo-Pacific security are inseparable. In addition, Japan is expected to convey its policy of increasing defense spending to about 2 percent of GDP, in line with NATO countries, from the perspective of assuming responsibility for regional security.
3. Finance Minister Announces Japan Will Double Its Loan to Ukraine
Japanese Finance Minister Suzuki, who is attending a meeting of G7 finance ministers and central bankers in Germany, announced that Japan plans to increase coordinated financing with the World Bank from $300 million to $600 million by next month to ensure that Ukraine can maintain public services such as education and health care, NHK reported on May 20. Regarding the response to Russia’s military aggression, Finance Minister Suzuki said, “Russia’s aggression has shaken the foundations of the international community and is absolutely unacceptable. We need to give our full support and solidarity to Ukraine.”
4. Basic Space Program: Establishing a Coordinated Satellite Information Collection System
NHK reported on May 20 that the government has prepared an interim report on revising the flow chart of the Basic Space Program. The report includes the early establishment of a “satellite constellation” that can collect information at a high frequency by coordinating a large number of small satellites. In addition to the need to strengthen defense capabilities following events such as the Russian military invasion of Ukraine, this will also help to quickly assess the situation in the event of a disaster.
5. MAFF to Establish a Special Agency to Prevent the Flow of Newly Developed Agricultural Products Overseas
NHK reported on May 20 that “Shine Muscat” grapes developed by Japan’s National Research Institute are being grown in Communist China without permission on an area about 30 times larger than that of Japan. In response, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has decided to consider establishing a special agency to manage and protect the rights of the new variety. The agency would be entrusted by the rights holders to monitor violations and act as an intermediary to collect licensing fees for new varieties. It is estimated that for the “Shine Muscat” variety, Japan could receive more than 10 billion yen per year if it can obtain licensing fees from the Communist China.
6. Employment Rate of University Students 95.8%, Slightly Lower than Last Year
A survey by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare and Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology on May 20 found that as of April 1, the employment rate of university graduate job seekers this spring was 95.8 percent, down 0.2 percentage points from the same period last year, and not back to the high level before the new coronavirus disaster, Kyodo News reported. However, Ministry of Health and Welfare officials said that “overall job vacancies are solid” against the backdrop of labor shortages and other factors.
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Proofreading: Seentiz Homma (帆間知津)