Tag Archives: Japan

Japan fleet Pacific exercise

Brussels 18.06.2022 Japan has dispatched a Maritime Self-Defense Force flotilla on a deployment to 11 Indo-Pacific countries and one foreign territory as part of joint naval exercises with the United States and other countries undertaken to counter a more assertive China.

In the annual deployment that began last Monday and will run to Oct. 28, the MSDF fleet will make port calls in the Pacific island nations of the Solomon Islands, Tonga and Fiji for the first time, according to the Defense Ministry.

The fleet will also take part in the Rim of the Pacific exercis – the world’s largest multinational naval exercise – the Pacific Vanguard exercise involving Australia, Japan, the United States and South Korea, and other drills, the ministry said.

Japan welcomes Ukraine refugees

Strasbourg 05.04.2022 Japan’s unusually welcoming approach to evacuees from Ukraine who have fled Russia’s invasion — a contrast to its traditionally strict refugee policy — reflects the government’s desire to stay in line with public sentiment and show it is contributing as a Western nation, pundits say. (Image: Tokyo, Japan).

Ahead of the House of Councillors election slated for this summer, the government is sensitive to public opinion which is in favour of helping the evacuees, with many companies and local municipalities offering support for them.

The government is also eager to demonstrate that it is joining efforts by the United States and Europe to aid the surging number of those fleeing Ukraine, which now exceeds 4 million, in the fastest-growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.

On Tuesday, 20 evacuees from Ukraine arrived in Japan from Poland aboard a government plane, traveling together with Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, who had been sent to Ukraine’s western neighbor as a special envoy to support evacuees.

Prior to his return, Hayashi said the Japanese government “would reach out from a humanitarian perspective and provide maximum support (for evacuees from Ukraine) who will be far away from their homeland, so they can live peacefully in Japan.”

The government said it plans to first provide them support for around six months including help with housing, employment and language lessons.

On Monday, Hayashi told his counterpart Zbigniew Rau in Warsaw that Japan would accept “as many (evacuees) as possible” from Ukraine. The Asian country welcomed 404 evacuees from the war-ravaged nation between March 2 and Sunday, April 3.

Bringing the evacuees on the government plane was a way to show “Japan’s posture” in helping tackle the refugee crisis, with over 2.4 million people having crossed the border into Poland so far, a Japanese official said.

The official brushed aside the comparably low number taken in by Japan, saying, “The value of assisting does not decrease just because the number of people is low.”

A senior official close to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida also said that the use of the government plane was “to clearly show that we are strongly engaged in tackling this problem. We know that it was a performance.”

Japan considers sanitary regime

Brussels 06.02.2022 Japan plans to decide whether to extend a COVID-19 quasi-state of emergency in Tokyo and 12 prefectures in the first half of this week, government sources said Sunday, February 6.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida affirmed the plan during talks with health minister Shigeyuki Goto and related ministers, the sources said, as the Tokyo metropolitan government reported 17,526 daily coronavirus cases in the capital, the highest tally for a Sunday.

Kishida instructed Noriko Horiuchi, minister in charge of promoting vaccine rollouts, to speed up administering third shots to cope with the new wave of infections spurred by the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

The government is considering extending the quasi-state of emergency in Tokyo and 12 prefectures by two weeks or to the end of the month from the original end date of February 13.

The 12 prefectures are Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa, which border the capital, as well as Gunma, Niigata, Gifu, Aichi, Mie, Kagawa, Nagasaki, Kumamoto and Miyazaki.

If any of the 13 local authorities do not wish to extend the emergency, the government will respect such intent.

Quasi-emergency measures involve restricting business hours of restaurants and bars, as well as a request to refrain from nonessential travel between prefectures in an effort to reduce strain on the medical system.

EU-Japan online SUmmit

Bruxelles 27.05.2021 EU-Japan summit has take place via video conference, 27 May 2021.The EU was represented by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. Japan has been represented by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. (Image above: Japan, urban landscape).

The leaders adopted a joint statement: ‘… Defeating the COVID-19 pandemic remains our highest priority. We view the vaccination process not as a race between countries but a race against time. Recognising extensive
immunisation as a global public good, we support universal, equitable and affordable access to
safe, effective and quality-assured COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics and treatments, as well as
the strengthening of health systems. To this end, we have made substantial contributions to the
Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator and its COVAX facility and are making efforts to
expand production of vaccines and other COVID-19 health products across the world. We will
also cooperate for the success of the COVAX AMC Summit on 2 June to be co-hosted by Japan
and Gavi. We welcome the EU’s leading role as a supplier of vaccines globally, including to
Japan. We will work towards the expansion of vaccine production and keeping supply chains
open and we call for refraining from unnecessary export and travel restrictions. We will work
also to restore visa waiver reciprocity. We support the holding of the Olympic and Paralympic
Games Tokyo 2020 in a safe and secure manner this summer as a symbol of global unity in
defeating COVID-19″.

We are determined to harness the benefits of data and digital transformation for society, the
environment and the economy, while upholding fundamental rights. We will collaborate to
promote global standards and comprehensive, including regulatory, approaches for digital
policies and technologies, notably on cybersecurity, secure 5G, “Beyond 5G” / 6G technologies,
block chain, and safe and ethical applications of artificial intelligence while encouraging an
innovative environment. This collaboration will also cover open and interoperable network
architectures. We underline our joint commitment to high standards of protection for personal
data, based on the already high degree of convergence between our systems. We undertake to
continue cooperation on “Data Free Flow with Trust” with a view to facilitating safe and secure
cross-border data flows through enhancing security and privacy. This will help us harness the
benefits of the digital economy. We will strive to reach a consensus-based solution on digital
taxation by mid-2021 within the OECD. We will work on strengthening EU-Japan digital
cooperation to support an inclusive, sustainable, human-centric digital transformation”.

Remarks by President Charles Michel after the EU-Japan summit via video conference
The EU and Japan are united in their cooperation based on shared values and principles, including freedom, respect for human rights, democracy, the rule of law, free and fair trade, effective multilateralism and the rules-based international order. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the EU-Japan strategic partnership.

Japan promotes women

A cross-party group of Japanese lawmakers promoting women’s participation in politics has given up on including in an amendment bill a clause on numerical targets for female political candidates.
The ruling Liberal Democratic Party opposed the idea of obliging political parties to set targets on the proportion of women in all candidates they field in elections, citing the difficulty in replacing many incumbent male lawmakers and local assembly members across the country with female candidates.
Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party) also claimed that it would be difficult to make it obligatory to set such numerical targets.

Instead, the bill to revise the law on the promotion of gender equality in the political field, which was compiled by the cross-party lawmaker group on Tuesday, included a clause for preventing sexual harassment against lawmakers, local assembly members and political candidates, in an effort to improve the environment of the political arena and boost the number of female politicians.

The bill also calls on the state and local governments to devise measures aimed at helping politicians balance their work with parenting or nursing care, such as expanding the scope of acceptable reasons for being absent from parliamentary or local assembly sessions.

Wakako Yata, a House of Councillors member from the Democratic Party for the People who serves as secretary-general of the cross-party group, told reporters, “We hope to work to continue revising the law, including for introducing a (gender) quota system.”

The group aims to submit the bill to the ongoing parliamentary session, which will run through June 16.

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EU-JAPAN-DJIBOUTI in Gulf of Aden

Brussels 11.05.2021 The EU, Japan and Djibouti carried out a trilateral joint naval exercise in the Gulf of Aden for the first time on May 10. The exercise came after an EU-Japan joint naval exercise and joint port call on Djibouti last October, and after the adoption last month of an EU Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, which called for more such joint activities to promote maritime security in the region. Japan welcomes the Strategy as a sign of the EU’s strong commitment to its engagement in the Indo-Pacific. (Image: illustration).

Based on the scenario of an anti-piracy operation, the 10 May exercise involved EU NAVFOR Somalia – Operation Atalanta flagship, frigate Carabiniere, EU NAVFOR Somalia – Operation Atalanta maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft, Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force destroyer Setogiri, and Djibouti Navy and Coast Guard patrol boats. The exercise lasted approximately 20 hours and also included cross-deck helicopter landings, tactical evolutions at sea and a night-time joint patrol.

The EU, Japan and Djibouti remain committed to maintaining the rules-based international order, including through practical maritime cooperation on freedom of navigation and overflight, in order to secure the safety of maritime routes, protect the world’s maritime domain from all traditional and non-traditional threats, and enhance prosperity through peaceful and stable oceans. Together with other partners, the EU, Japan and Djibouti will further contribute to maintaining and strengthening the stability, security, prosperity and sustainable development of the region.

Nippon Airways: meals without plastic

Brussels 25.04.2021 All Nippon Airways Co. has said it will replace plastic trays for economy class meals on international flights with items made from an eco-friendly material from August 2021 in a bid to improve sustainability. “Restrictions on plastic use have been strengthening mainly in Europe, and we want to accelerate our preparations by taking proactive measures,” an ANA official said. (Image above: illustration).

ANA said it will be the first airline in Japan to introduce meal trays made from biodegradable materials, and expects the replacement to cut its plastic waste by 317 tons a year, equivalent to 30 percent of the total plastic it disposed of in the business year to March 2020.
The trays will be made from bagasse, a fiber remaining after pressing sugarcane to extract the juice.

It has yet to decide whether to employ the bagasse trays on its domestic flights, for which it currently uses paper boxes, according to the company.

ANA, which introduced wooden cutlery and bioplastic-made straws in 2020, said it plans to continue reducing plastic waste to cut greenhouse gas emissions generated during producing trays and burning garbage.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has pledged that Japan will achieve carbon neutrality, or net zero emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases, by 2050. The government first aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 46 percent by 2030 compared with fiscal 2013 levels.

Japan PM Abe resigns

Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced his resignation over health issues, opening a vacancy for the top job of the world’s third-biggest economy in which he sought to revive growth and bolster its defenses.

“I have decided that I will step down as prime minister, with the belief that I cannot continue being prime minister if I do not have the confidence that I can carry out the job entrusted to me by the people,” Abe, 65, told a news conference.

He said he had decided to step down now to avoid a political vacuum as the country copes with its novel coronavirus outbreak.

“I apologize from the bottom of my heart that despite all of the support from the Japanese people, I am leaving the post with one full year left in my term and in the midst of various policies and coronavirus,” Abe said.

Abe decision will trigger a leadership race in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) – most likely in two or three weeks – and the winner must be formally elected in parliament. The new party leader will hold the post for the rest of Abe’s term.

Former defense minister Shigeru Ishiba and former foreign minister Fumio Kishida both swiftly expressed interes, media reported. Among others whose names have been floated is Abe’s close aide, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.

Japan city bans smartphones use in motion

Yamato City is prohibiting pedestrians from using smartphones while preambulaing the vicinity public roads, squares and parks, according to a July 1 report from NDTV. It’s first publically announced ban of its kind to be imposed in Japan.

There’s no punishment foreseen in case pedasrians don’t abide by the prohibition. The ban’s supporter so all ages said they hope that the action will help to warn about the dangers of being distracted by phones, according to the report.

The city Council said it hopes people will recognize that “smartphones should not be used while in motion.”

According to the ordinance, pedestrians should stop at a place where they are not obstructing traffic if they want to use their smartphones in public spaces, such as on streets and in parks.

In January, the city conducted a study at two locations, observing a total of about 6,000 pedestrians, and found that roughly 12% of them were using their smartphones while walking. Following the survey, the draft ordinance was submitted to the city’s Council on June 1.

The city has an estimated population of 235 thousand (2017), with more than 100 thousand households.

Image: illustration

High heels debate at new heights

Led by Yumi Ishikawa, an actress and writer, #KuToo campaign aims at criticising dress codes, requiring women in office to wear high heels. The hashtag trended on Twitter and resulted in 150,000 petition signatories as many compared the requirements to foot binding.

In traditional Asian culture, dress codes occasionally prohibit female employees also from wearing glasses. Based on strict patterns of the feminine beauty, the bans do not apply to male colleagues.

The outcry against the prohibitions received significant media coverage after trending on Twitter, and has risen to a top level, receiving the support of the Prime Minister Abe, who said employers should not force women to wear high heels. However it is difficult even for him to contradict regulations in private companies.

“I think the fact that high heels were forbidden played on the unconscious… there was also the mystery and the fetishistic side… the simple drawing of a high-heeled shoe is often associated with sexuality,” world famous French shoe designer Christian Louboutin said, defending his choice for legendary high heels of his artistic creations. He insisted that his art was not just about making heels “higher and higher”.

“Super-high heels can free women, Louboutin claimed, insisting that wearing his towering six-inch stilettos is a “form of liberty” to impose femininity.

While some feminists see vertiginous heels as sexual enslavement, Louboutin believes the opposite — even if it means women have to walk slowly and carefully in his iconic red-soled creations.

Women do not want to give up wearing high heels,” the designer said, commenting on his show “The Exhibitionist” (till 26/07), a retrospective of his 30-year career, ongoing in Paris until mid-summer.

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