Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is on a two-day visit to South Korea. The two countries are seeking to repair strained relations and continue momentum created by a bilateral summit in March and a subsequent series of meetings by security and economic officials. They will then attempt to carry forward any progress to the Group of Seven Hiroshima Summit later this month.
Two ministerial meetings of the G7 Summit will be held in Japan this week: one for finance ministers and central bank governors in the central city of Niigata, and the other for science and technology ministers in the northeastern city of Sendai.
On Sunday, Thailand and Turkey will hold general elections.
Japan downgrades COVID-19 to flu level
Japan downgrades COVID-19 to a Class 5 infectious disease, the same legal category as common infectious diseases like seasonal flu, paving the way for the full normalization of social and economic activities.
The move means that in the event that there is a resurgence in the virus, the government will not issue a state of emergency, a legal framework under which citizens are requested to refrain from going out and other activities are restricted. The government will no longer cover coronavirus-related costs of outpatient testing and hospitalization, except in some cases.
On April 29 the government scrapped its coronavirus-related border controls, which required all entrants to the country to present a vaccination certification or a negative test result.
Australia’s center-left Labor government will unveil its budget for 2023-24 in a state of improved financial health due to a sharp decline in the country’s deficit. But Treasurer Jim Chalmers still has to contend with a slowing global economy, and rising welfare and defense commitments, meaning the country’s deficit is likely to widen again in the coming years.
ASEAN Summit in Indonesia
Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations start a two-day summit in Labuan Bajo, a resort area on the Indonesian island of Flores. During its chairmanship of the regional bloc this year, Indonesia is presenting the theme of ASEAN as an “epicentrum of growth” as it pushes for joint economic recovery efforts, while also looking to boost the group’s effectiveness in dealing with regional problems.
ASEAN leaders are also expected to discuss implementation of the five-point consensus on Myanmar and efforts to reduce tensions around the South China Sea.
State election in southern Indian state of Karnataka
India’s southern state of Karnataka goes to the polls amid stiff competition between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the opposition Indian National Congress. Campaigning has reached fever pitch in the state with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP’s star campaigner, and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi holding a series of public meetings in a bid to woo voters. The counting of votes is slated for May 13.
Earnings: Toyota, OCBC
G7 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors’ Meeting in Niigata, Japan
Finance ministers and central bank governors from the Group of Seven wealthy countries and the European Union meet in central Japan’s Niigata prefecture, the largest production base of the nation’s flagship rice brand “Koshihikari”.
The agenda for the three-day summit picks up from the grouping’s previous meeting in April in Washington D.C. and is likely to include financial system instability in the U.S. and Europe, debt problems in developing countries, and support for Ukraine.
Heads of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank will also participate, while Japan has invited finance ministers from countries including India, Indonesia, South Korea and Singapore to attend an outreach meeting planned on Friday.
Separately, a meeting for science and technology ministers from G7 countries will be held in Sendai city in northeast Japan from Friday to Sunday.
Earnings: JD.com, SoftBank, Nissan, Honda, Foxconn
Earnings: Toshiba, SMIC
More than 52m Thais will cast votes on Sunday to elect 400 constituent MPs and 100 party MPs to the lower house. While the final count will take weeks, the opposition Pheu Thai party is expected to win the most seats but fall short of its targeted 310. The progressive Move Forward Party and United Thai Nation, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha’s new group, are each aiming for 100 seats, which would factor into Pheu Thai’s ability to form its first government since the 2014 military coup.
Also on Sunday, Turkey will be having simultaneous presidential and parliamentary elections. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is facing the most difficult election of his more than two decades in power, as polls show him in a tight race against the main opposition alliance‘s joint candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who heads the Republican People’s Party (CHP). Polls indicate that two other candidates with lesser support rates might split votes and push for a run-off presidential election, which is slated for May 28 if none of the four candidates gains more than 50% of the votes needed at the first round.
Erdogan’s ruling alliance led by his Justice and Democracy Party (AKP) is also facing a tough election at the 600-seat parliament level, with a risk of losing a parliamentary majority against the two main opposition alliances. Composition of parliament seats will be an important determinant for voters in the case of a presidential run-off election, which would mark a first in Turkey’s political history.
Source: Nikkei Asia