1. PM Abe’s Approval Rating Declined Below 50%
Yomiuri conducted its monthly national survey on March 4th through 6th. It revealed that the PM Abe’s approval rating went down by 2% to 49% from the previous month. It is two consecutive declinations in row. Its disapproval rating went up by 4% to 40%. This approval rate declination is analyzed to represent people’s increasing dissatisfaction of the Abe Cabinet economic policies. Other key findings are as follows:
Cabinet decision to accept the court’s reconciliation offer with regard to the law suit between the central government and Okinawa Prefecture on the issue of the transfer of USMC’s Futenma Air Station to Henoko:
Approve 69% Disapprove 19%
PM Abe’s plan to amend the Constitution:
Approve 37% Disapprove 52%
Political parties’ approval rating:
LDP 37% (5% down)
2. Fifth Anniversary of March 11 Disaster of 2011
On the 11th of March, fifth anniversary memorial ceremonies for the loss of people by the Eastern Japan Great Earthquake were held throughout Japan. As of the latest available data, 15,894 people were killed and 3,410 people died due to the disaster related causes as well as 2,561 people are still missing. 174,471 people are still evacuated mostly from the Fukushima Daiichi NPP affected area. Most of the social infrastructure like trains, highways and ports were restored but revival of local industries affected by the tsunami or the nuclear accident is way behind. PM Abe recently announced his plan to promote the most affected Fukushima area as towns of new hydrogen generating industry.
3. Takahama NPT#3 and #4 Ordered to Halt their Operations
Ohtsu District Court, on 9th, made a provisional decision to order Kansai Electric Power Company to halt the nuclear power generation operation of its Takahama NPP #3 and #4 in Fukui Prefecture. 29 residents in Shiga Prefecture filed this law suit to the district court in January last year requesting for this provisional decision to halt the NPPs to prevent the disaster like Fukushima Daiichi NPP. The district court had received explanation from KEPCO about the safety and evacuation plan and concluded that KEPCO’s explanation is too short to get convinced that proper countermeasure and fail-safe mechanism in worst case scenarios and of evacuation plan are in place. The Takahama NPP #3 and #4 resumed operation this January and February respectively after going through the lengthy approval process based on the new safety standard set in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi NPP.
4. Honda’s FCV “Clarity” Debuted
Honda released its new FCV “Clarity” on March 10. Its fuel is hydrogen. Toyota has already released its first FCV “Mirai” more than one year ago. Following are comparisons of features of the two FCVs:
Passengers 5 people 4 people
Max range 750 km 650 km
Price 7.66 million yen 7.24 million yen
Imminent issue of FCVs in Japan is the slow pace of establishing hydrogen supply stations.