Tag Archives: Japan

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.

Japan aims at solution of Kuril Islands issue

The Japanese government is determined to achieve a solution to the territorial issue and sign a peace treaty with Russia, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in his programme speech, addressing the Parliament on January 20.

Step-by-step, the agreements, which we reached with Russian President [Vladimir] Putin are being implemented,” Abe said. “Former residents of the [Southern Kuril] Islands go on a pilgrimage tour by plane to their relatives’ graves and joint economic activity is being cultivated on the four islands.

We will speed up talks based on the 1956 Joint Declaration, solve the territorial problem and sign a peace treaty,” Abe continued. “We are moving towards this without any hesitation. I’m fully determined to achieve this goal together with President [Vladimir Putin],” Prime Minister underlined.

Russia and Japan have been in talks to sign a peace treaty since the mid-20th century. The main stumbling block to achieving this is the ownership issue over the Southern Kuril Islands, called the Northern Territories in Japan.

After the end of World War II, the Kuril Islands were incorporated into the Soviet Union. However, the ownership of Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan Islands and the Habomai Islands has been challenged by Japan. The Russian Foreign Ministry has repeatedly said that Russia’s sovereignty over these islands, which is committed to paper in international documents, cannot be called in question.

Lavrov on sovereignty over S.Kuril

Japan should recognize Russia’s sovereignty over the Southern Kuril Islands to allow both countries conclude a peace treaty, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said to reporters on November 23.

Russian diplomat issued this comment as a reaction on a statement by Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, which clarifies that the Japanese government would continue negotiations with Russia on a peace treaty proceeding from its baseline position: first to settle the territorial problem and then to conclude a peace treaty.

With all the respect for the Chief Cabinet Secretary, we are nonetheless guided by the agreements that are reached at the highest level between the Russian president and the Japanese prime minister. They have agreed to move forward in discussing the problems that remain, proceeding from the 1956 declaration, which clearly states that first Russia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty over all our lands, including those territories, are recognized, thus recognizing the results of World War II, and then everything else will possibly be discussed,” Lavrov underlined.

Bullet sent in a letter to S.Korea Embassy

A letter containing what appeared to be a bullet was sent to the South Korean Embassy in Japan, police said September 3. The incident took place during the period of sharply deteriorating ties between the two countries over wartime history and trade policy.

Police said they are analyzing the object to confirm whether it is a bullet, and to possibly help identify the sender.

The letter was delivered to the embassy in Tokyo (pictured) on August 27 and addressed to former Ambassador Lee Su Hoon, sources close to the matter said. It was sent an anonymously, and contained a threat, indicating that the sender had a rifle and is targeting a South Korean, according to the sources. The police investigation was launched.

Relations between two countries deteriorated swiftly after the South Korean Supreme Court last autumn ordered two Japanese companies to pay damages to South Koreans who it indicated were forced to work in their factories during Japanese colonial rule.

Japan reiterates that the issue of compensation stemming from its colonial rule was settled “finally and completely” in a 1965 bilateral agreement under which Japan provided South Korea with $300 million in grants and $200 million in loans.

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