1. Japanese Digital Household Appliances Domestic Shipments Down More than 20% in April
According to data from the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association (JEITA), domestic shipments of digital consumer electronics in the domestic market were valued at 90.4 billion yen last month, down 20.4 percent from last year, NHK reported on May 26. This was the first decline of more than 20% in six months since the semiconductor shortage hit hard in October. The video equipment category, which includes TVs and recorders, decreased by 27% to 37.6 billion yen. In contrast, the automotive-related equipment category, which provides car navigation systems, decreased by 16.9% to 46.7 billion yen.
2. Air Self-Defense Force and U.S. Military Aircraft Announce Joint Flight over Sea of Japan
The Ministry of Defense announced that Air Self-Defense Force and U.S. Army fighter jets conducted a joint flight over the Sea of Japan on May 25 as a countermeasure in response to incidents such as North Korea’s ballistic missile launch, NHK reported on May 26. Four F-15 fighter jets from the Air Self-Defense Force’s Chitose Air Base in Hokkaido and four F-16 fighter jets from the U.S. Army’s Misawa Air Base in Aomori Prefecture conducted this joint flight.
3. Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Welcomes President Biden’s Speech on “Military Involvement in Taiwan”
Former LDP Prime Minister Shinzo Abe welcomed President Biden’s statement that the U.S. would intervene militarily in Taiwan contingencies, NHK reported on May 26, noting at one of his faction meetings that “there is a view that this was a slipping, but I am sure they had a meeting beforehand and predicted the questions at the press conference, and that President Biden had made his intentions clear”. On the other hand, regarding Prime Minister Kishida’s intention to increase defense spending, he said, “This means a considerable increase in defense spending, so I think it is predictable that we will increase the initial budget for the next fiscal year to 6 to 7 trillion yen.”
4. Gekkeikan May Have Leaked up to 30,000 Personal Information Due to Hackers
Liquor giant Gekkeikan Sake announced that up to 30,000 pieces of personal information may have been compromised in an unauthorized access to its servers confirmed on April 2, Kyoto News reported on May 26. The potentially compromised information included addresses, names and phone numbers of customers, business partners, shareholders and employees of the mail-order site. According to the company’s investigation, it is believed to be ransomware, a cyber-attack that demands a “ransom” in exchange for data recovery. The company’s unauthorized access caused the servers to shut down, temporarily preventing orders from being placed and received.
5. Draft Framework Policy Would “Fundamentally Strengthen National Defense Capabilities”
While Prime Minister Kishida has said he intends to increase defense spending, a draft of this year’s economic and financial management framework policy in defense has been prepared that will fundamentally strengthen defense capabilities, including missiles that can attack from beyond enemy range, NHK reported on May 26. The Japanese government is accelerating the review of the National Security Strategy and other policies for revision by the end of this year and has formulated policies to fundamentally strengthen defense capabilities. It will also focus on maintaining and strengthening domestic production bases for defense equipment, and will consider more in-depth measures, including a system for reviewing exports and transfers.
6. Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant: Pre-Discharge Water Storage Facility to Be Installed Starting Next Month
Tokyo Electric Power Co. announced that it will start building facilities to store water before discharging it into the sea early next month as part of its plan to discharge treated water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the sea, NHK reported on May 26. Under government policy, TEPCO plans to dilute water containing tritium and other radioactive materials that continues to accumulate at the Fukushima Daiichi plant to below standard criteria and discharge it into the sea from a site about 1 kilometer from the plant. There are deep concerns, especially among local residents and fishermen, about the release of treated water, and it remains to be seen how the government and TEPCO will proceed with their plans.
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