9/2/21 Japan Galaxy News: Moderna Contaminant Found To Be Stainless Steel; Japan Launches Agency To Speed Up Digitalization

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1. Printing of the New 10,000 Yen Banknote with the Portrait of “Eiichi Shibusawa” Begins, Using the Most Advanced Anti-Counterfeiting Technology

NHK reported on 1st Sep, Printing of the newly designed 10,000 yen banknote, scheduled to be issued in the first half of 2024. The new banknotes use the most advanced anti-counterfeiting technology. The newly designed 10,000 yen banknote features a portrait of Shibusawa Eiichi, known as the “father of modern Japanese economy” and an industrial leader from the Meiji to Showa periods, with the Tokyo Station building depicted on the back. On the 1st, a commemorative ceremony was held at the National Printing Office factory in Tokyo, where Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Aso and other attendees pressed a button to start printing the new banknotes. This is the first time in the world that state-of-the-art holographic anti-counterfeiting technology is used on a banknote. When the banknote is tilted at a certain angle, the portrait will appear  as a three-dimensional movement. In addition, the new banknotes have dimpled dots to make it easier for the visually impaired to easily identify the type of banknote by touching it with their fingers, and the number “10000” has been enlarged to make it easier for foreigners with poor eyesight and who cannot read Chinese characters to understand.

2. Sales of “CCP Virus Insurance” Suspended as Infection Spreads Beyond Expectations

According to the JIJI report, A subsidiary of  First Life Insurance Co. announced on 1st Sep that it has suspended sales of individual health insurance coverage for CCP virus infections, which was launched in April. This is due to the rapid spread of the infection beyond expectations and it is difficult to maintain the product at current insurance rates. This insurance is a product that pays a one-time compensation of 100,000 yen when you are diagnosed with a specific infectious disease such as SARS-COV 2. Premiums increase as the infection spreads, and premiums (for three months) fluctuate between 890 and 2,270 yen. However, due to the recent rapid expansion of CCP virus, this situation has exceeded the expected range of insurance rates. The timing of resumption of sales has not yet been determined. Sales through partner companies will continue. To date, the number of policies is about 21,000 and claims have been paid in about 60 cases. The company explained that the contracts that have been signed “continue to be valid”.

3. Minister of Economic Promotion Nishimura Says That the First Working Group Meeting This Month Will Negotiate the UK’s Accession to the TPP

NHK report 1st Sep, The ministerial meeting of the 11 countries participating in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was held online, and Minister of Economic Revitalization Nishimura, who chairs it, told a press conference that he hopes to hold the first meeting of the working group in September to negotiate Britain’s accession to the agreement. It was agreed to hold the first meeting of the working group in the next month or so to negotiate the UK’s accession and to set up an e-commerce subcommittee to facilitate trade through digitization. After the meeting, Mr. Nishimura said at a press conference that “the UK’s accession is important to further extend the TPP rules beyond the Asia-Pacific region. We are coordinating closely with participating countries and hope to hold the first meeting of the working group this month.”

4. Foreign Matter in Moderna COVID Vaccine Identified as Stainless Metal

Kyodo News Agency report 2nd Sep, the foreign matter found in some lots of Moderna Inc.’s vaccine distributed but suspended from use in Japan was confirmed to be stainless steel that was mixed during the manufacturing process, the health ministry said Wednesday. The substance was likely blended due to friction between two pieces of metal installed in the production line, which was caused by an inappropriate set-up, according to a probe by U.S. drugmaker Moderna and Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., the vaccine’s distributor in Japan. “It is not expected that injection of the particles identified in these lots in Japan would result in increased medical risk,” the two companies said in a statement, but adding that injecting metallic particles into a muscle may cause a local reaction. The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said last month that foreign substances had been found in 39 unused vials at eight vaccination sites in five prefectures. The discovery led the ministry to halt the use of around 1.63 million doses under the three lot numbers, which came from the same production line at the Spanish plant.

5. Japan Launches Agency to Speed up Digitalization

Kyodo News Agency reports 2nd Sep, Japan’s Digital Agency was launched Wednesday as the country seeks to accelerate digitalization of local and central government services after the novel coronavirus pandemic further exposed the need for reform. Digitalization minister Takuya Hirai is in charge of the new agency, which is headed by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, while Yoko Ishikura, honorary professor of Hitotsubashi University, assumed the top bureaucrat post of digital supervisor. Suga at the launch ceremony called on the agency members to work swiftly and be free-thinking, and to “use your ingenuity as if you are remaking the entire country,” noting there are many issues that have been left untouched for years. The agency will work on digitalizing CCP virus “vaccine passports,” or certificates for people who have been fully inoculated against the respiratory disease, by the end of the year. Aside from promoting digitalization in the hope this will make various services more convenient to use, the agency will be also tasked with protecting privacy as the reform would increase exchanges of personal information.

6. JR-West to Increase Capital by up to 278.6 Billion Yen to Strengthen Financial Base Deteriorated by CCP Virus

NHK reported 1st Sep,West Japan Railway Company (JR-West) announced that it will increase its capital by up to 278.6 billion yen to strengthen its financial base, which has deteriorated due to the impact of CCP virus. According to the announcement, JR West will raise up to 278.6 billion yen this month through a “public offering” that raises funds from the market, including the issuance of new shares. This is the first time since the privatization of JR Group through a public offering of new shares, and the funds raised will be used to strengthen the financial base that has deteriorated due to the impact of the CCP virus. JR West said the number of passengers using Shinkansen and other services will decrease due to the spread of the infection, resulting in a final deficit of 233.2 billion yen in the last fiscal year, and forecasts a deficit of 81.5 billion yen to 116.5 billion yen for this year. The funds from the capital increase will be used to pay off debt, add more Shinkansen trains, upgrade aging express trains and invest in digital services such as smartphone IC tickets.

【Himalaya Japan Galaxy- Alpha Planet】
Translator: π&π
Proofreading: Curiosity