1. DPJ and Japan Restoration Party Formed a New Party
On March 27, Democratic Party of Japan, the largest opposition party and Japan Restoration Party formed and launched a new party called The Democratic Party. As seen in the numbers of seats of the both chambers of the Diet below, the new opposition party is still way behind the ruling parties.
<House of Representatives>
Ruling Parties (LDP 291, Komei 35)
The Democratic Party (96)
<House of Councilors>
Ruling Parties (LDP 118, Komei 20)
The Democratic Party (65)
The purpose of this move is DPJ’s rebranding to appeal to the public showing its strong intent to gain back the ruling position through the national elections this year (By-election of House of Representatives in April, House of Councilors in this summer, and general election for House of Representatives is speculated to be held simultaneously to the House of Councilors). DPJ was formed in 1996 and from 2010 through 2012; it got the ruling position (PM Hatoyama, Kan and Noda). Since the incumbent Mr. Abe of LDP gained back the ruling position and PM, he has been constantly keeping high approval ratings through his initiatives on both domestic and foreign affairs, making DPJ feel a sort of identity crisis. DPJ’s president (Mr. Okada) assumed the new party’s head. Their concrete plans to appeal to the voters remain to be seen.
2. 40 million Foreign Visitors Targeted by 2020
The Abe Administration originally set the goal of increasing the number of foreign visitors to Japan up to 20 million by 2020. Now that the number is being achieved 4 years ahead of 2020, the administration set a new goal for 40 million by 2020. In order to achieve this new goal, the administration will loosen the visa issuance conditions of the five countries that hold large potential of the growth of visitors (China, India, Philippine, Vietnam and Russia). The visitors from the five countries account for 28.4% of the entire foreign visitors to Japan last year.
3. Vacation Rental Regulation Loosened
Knowing that the pace of the increase of hotel/ryokan rooms to be supplied through new constructions is not catching up with the pace of the increase of foreign visitors to Japan, the administration loosened the rule to regulate vacation rental using private houses. In the meantime, there is a growing number of complaints reported by the neighbor households about noise etc. coming from vacation rental houses. Therefore, despite the loosening of the regulation by the central government, some local governments are rather tightening the rule to protect the original residents.
4. iPS Based Liver To be Generated in the Space
Since the structure of human liver has so complicated solid structure, no matter how liver cell can be regenerated by iPS, the regenerated cell cannot normally scale up to substantial size due to the gravity. As Yokohama City University was able to successfully regenerate liver bud cells using iPS cells, the JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) and the university agreed to work together to send the regenerated tiny liver bud cells to the International Space Station and scale it up to reach some minimum size that can provide the liver function in the no gravity experimental space.
Nobuo Yoneyama, President, Nisshin Global Corporation
2-1-15 Hiroo, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan