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1. U.S., Japan, and South Korea Senior Officials to Meet Next Month

NHK reported on May 27 that the afternoon of June 3 will see talks between Director-General Funakoshi of the Asia and Pacific Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Special Representative for North Korea Sung Kim of the U.S. Department of State, and Director-General Kim Gong of the Korean Foreign Ministry’s Korean Peninsula Peace Negotiations Division. The talks are expected to share updates and discuss ways to address a range of nuclear and missile issues and strengthen regional deterrence, including security cooperation, in light of North Korea’s repeated ballistic missile launches and perceived future nuclear tests. They are also expected to exchange views on North Korea’s epidemic infection.

2. Total Assets of the Bank of Japan Largest Ever

NHK reported on May 27 that the Bank of Japan’s total assets at the end of March 2012 increased by more than 21 trillion yen (3%) from the previous fiscal year to 736.2535 trillion yen, the highest ever, according to the results announced by the Bank of Japan for the previous fiscal year.

In addition to the increase in the balance of long-term government bonds held by the bank as part of its massive monetary easing and asset purchases, there was also a significant increase in loans and advances to companies affected by the outbreak under its cash management support. Outstanding balances held in long-term Japanese government bonds are also expected to swell further last month as a result of measures to curb the rise in long-term interest rates with unlimited daily purchases of Japanese government bonds.

3. More than 50% of Companies and 20% of Individuals Implemented Telecommuting for the First Time

According to the Asahi Shimbun, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications released the results of a survey on trends in telecom usage as of the end of August last year on May 27, showing that 51.9 percent of companies responded that they had introduced teleworking, exceeding 50 percent for the first time since the survey. The survey, which covered about 6,000 companies with more than 100 employees from across Japan, received about 47 percent of the responses.

When asked about the percentage of employees who use telework, about 60% of the companies surveyed answered “less than 30%”. In the survey of individuals, about 17,000 households responded, and only 22.7 percent of respondents said they had ever worked remotely. The most common reason for not working remotely was that their job was not suitable.

4. Foreign Net Assets of Japan Reach Record High Due to Weakening Yen

NHK reported on May 27 that Japan’s net foreign assets, i.e. assets held abroad minus liabilities, exceeded 400 trillion yen for the first time at the end of last year, reaching a record level. The main reason for this was the increase in the conversion of foreign stocks and bonds into yen as the yen weakened in the foreign exchange market. Japan’s net foreign assets have ranked first in the world for 31 consecutive years, well ahead of Germany, which ranks second (315 trillion yen).

5. Four Power Companies to Raise Electricity Prices in July

FNN reported on May 27 that 10 major power companies have released their household electricity rates for July. In the case of TEPCO, the standard household case is 8,871 yen, up 27.2% from 6,973 yen in July last year. Six companies – Tohoku Electric Power, Kansai Electric Power, Chugoku Electric Power, Hokuriku Electric Power, Shikoku Electric Power and Okinawa Electric Power – have exceeded the maximum amount that can be increased and will not raise their prices in July. Fuel costs for thermal power generation, which accounts for about 80 percent of Japan’s electricity generation, have soared due to a post-epidemic economic recovery, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and a weaker yen, reflected in electricity prices.

6. Minister of Health and Labour: No Confirmed Cases of Monkeypox in Japan

According to NHK on May 27, Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare Goto told reporters, “Cases of monkeypox infection have been confirmed in Europe and other countries, but no deaths have been reported in developed countries. There are no confirmed cases in Japan yet.” He also said that according to reports that smallpox vaccine is effective in preventing infection and said, “From the perspective of preventive measures, we are producing and stockpiling vaccines.” He noted, “Although there are aspects that differ from past outbreaks, human-to-human transmission was originally thought to be rare. Trends in the disease in Japan and abroad are being monitored and necessary measures will be taken.”

【Himalaya Japan Galaxy- Alpha Planet】

Translator: windfish

Proofreading: Seentiz Homma (帆間知津)