This Week in Japan
Friday, April 12, 2019
The latest headlines in Japan for the week of April 8, 2019
Japanese Government Announces Redesign of Bank Notes
The government announced the redesign of the 10,000, 5,000 and 1,000 yen bank notes just in before the Imperial Era switches from Heisei to Reiwa. They will also be incorporating newer technologies for counterfeit prevention measures. The new designs will be introduced in the first half of fiscal 2024. The new ¥10,000 bill will feature Eiichi Shibusawa (1840-1931), a banker and business leader dubbed “the father of Japanese capitalism.” The ¥5,000 bill will feature Umeko Tsuda (1864-1929), the founder of Tsuda University in Tokyo, who studied in the U.S. and became a pioneer in the education of Japanese women in early 20th century. The ¥1,000 bill will feature Shibasaburo Kitasato (1853-1931), a bacteriologist who helped build the foundation for modern medical science in Japan. Japan changes the designs of the three bills to prevent counterfeiting about every 20 years, so the change of the Imperial Era was not major factor. In the first part of fiscal 2021, the ministry will also introduce a new ¥500 coin with the same design but using new materials. The Finance minister also said that the government will not redesign the ¥2,000 bill because the number of bills in circulation “is extremely small.”
To read more about the new bank notes here are some useful articles.
Abe Fires Olympic Minister
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe fired the Olympics Minister Yoshitaka Sakurada on Wednesday, and has appointed Sakurada’s predecessor, Shunichi Suzuki, as his replacement. The prime minister has said that he wants Suzuki to, “regain trust and bring the Olympics to a success.” Sakurada submitted his resignation after increasing pressure over a series of insensitive and inappropriate public comments. Most recently he stated that the LDP representative from the Tohoku Region — the region that suffered from the triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear failure in 2011 — was more important than the region’s recovery when he gave a speech at the lawmaker’s fundraising party. including one concerning the recovery effort in the quake- and tsunami-damaged region of Tohoku during a fundraising party. Back in February he said he was “very disappointed” when hearing the news that swimmer Rikako Ikee, a gold medal hopeful for Japan, was diagnosed with leukemia and would not be able to compete in the upcoming Olympics. The comment was met with huge public backlash. Sakurada, who doubled as the government’s cybersecurity strategy chief, also admitted last November that he does not use a computer.
To read more about Yoshitaka Sakurada here are some useful articles.
LDP Wins over Half the Electoral Seats, Except in Osaka
The Osaka Ishin no Kai (One Osaka) party emerged newly energized after strong victories in local polls across Osaka prefecture, where it won the governorship, the mayoral office, the prefectural assembly and an increase the municipal assembly seats. They are now firmly in control of the local political scene in Osaka, leaving the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito officials worried about their results in the Upper House elections set for July. Osaka Ishin officials plan to increase pressure on their former coalition partners the Komeito over the merging of Osaka’s 24 wards into four semi-autonomous zones and to do away with the current structure of the city council. Matsui is noted to be close to PM Abe and the Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, and the results place him in the position to negotiate for cooperation and support from the central government for the Group of 20 summit in June and the 2025 World Expo. The ruling LDP are in shock with their losses in Osaka, despite winning more than half of the 2,277 seats contested in prefectural assembly elections across Japan. The LDP won a key gubernatorial race in Hokkaido, although elsewhere it saw a lack of party unity. Out of 389 female candidates who ran for prefectural assembly races, 237 won a seat, occupying 10.4 percent of the total winners and marking a record high both in terms of the number and the ratio. However, only 3.5 percent of LDP winners were women.
To read more about the recent elections here are some useful articles.
5G is Coming to Japan
The telecom ministry has allocated mobile phone frequency bands for 5G services to four companies. Three are major mobile carriers (NTT Docomo, KDDI Corp. and SoftBank Corp.) and the 4th is Rakuten Inc. This is in preparation for the full-scale launch of 5G expected in 2020. The mobile phone carriers plan to conduct trials later this year and begin a commercial rollout in 2020. 5G allows users to send and receive data 100 times faster than the current 4G networks. In addition to benefitting smartphone users, the networks are expected to help enable automatic driving and other technological advances like remote-controlled medical equipment. The 5G network is also expected to boost the connection of a wide-range of devices to the internet via wireless networks. All the parties have said that they will refrain from using products made by Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp, both from China due to concerns in the US that their products facilitate spying and may lead to potential network disruptions.
To read more about 5G in Japan, here are some useful articles.