This Week in Japan #33 (November 20th)

This week in Japan, Prime Minister Suga looks to establish a new digital reform section, Princess Mako struggles to get married, Capcom gets hacked, and more big news stories!

November 21, 2020

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Japan to Launch the Digital Agency

Takuya Hirai is set to be the new minister for the Digital Agency division. It would focus on digitizing other departments and manage the government’s IT budget. Image sourced from https://japan-forward.com/

Prime Minister Suga and his party are preparing to launch the Digital Agency division, which would be tasked with the digital transformation of other administrative bodies. This was one of Suga’s main policies before he was elected as prime minister back in September, and he has stated that “The Digital Agency will be newly established as a system to coordinate and strongly promote related policies divided into multiple ministries.

As of now, House of Representatives member Takuya Hirai has been assigned the role of Minister of Digital Reform. Well-versed in IT policies, he has been tasked with preparing introductory policies for the new agency to be presented during the next Diet session scheduled for January 2021. There are currently around 50 members that will be coming from other departments. They are made up of various members from the Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Trade, and Industry, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.

While the establishment of this branch is still not official, Minister Hirai has stated that in the future the Digital Agency will focus on securing control of the national IT budget, which is about 800 billion yen for the year. If it can secure control, Japan’s individual ministries and agencies will have the Digital Agency manage and control IT budgets, cutting costs, and optimizing procedures. 

Of course, handing over control of such a large budget is leading to fierce opposition from other ministries. As the Digital Agency falls more into place, what roles it will be in charge of will be determined by the leniency of Japan’s other ministries.

Capcom Repeatedly Threatened by Cyber Terrorist Group

Capcom has asked to pay a large ransom of around $11 million to the cyber terrorists. They have said they will not cooperate.

On the 16th of November, the game company Capcom was the victim of a cyber attack from a secret hacker organization. If Capcom does not comply with the hackers demands, they have threatened to leak confidential data from the company. This is just one example of several ransom malware attacks across the world in recent years.

According to Capcom, despite taking measures to defend against some attacks, they were still able to be infiltrated. Furthermore, the attacks or their location cannot be identified by any means. Aside from the ransom, the attack included both former and current employees having their information being stolen as well as information for up to  350,000 customers in both Japan and North America. Sales numbers, business partner information, and internal materials were also stolen.

On November 9th, the hacker group released a statement in English on their own website. Just two days later on the 11th, they released about 60 gigabytes of some of the data they stole. The group followed up by demanding $11 million or they will release around 1 terabyte of stolen information. Capcom refused to accept the ransom demands for fear of encouraging more attacks. However, the hackers made true on their threats and led to a release of even more stolen information on their website.

 Japan’s Princess is Struggling with Marrying Her Partner

Princess Mako pictured with her boyfriend, Kei Komuro.

Princess Mako of the Japanese royal family is finding it difficult to marry her partner Kei Komuro, an average citizen. 

The princess has been criticized by some after recently giving a public statement on her feelings to get married to her partner Kei Komuro, despite public opposition. According to the princess, “marriage is a necessary decision for us in order to live while staying true to our feelings.”

One cause of the public opposition is the loss of her royalty status. As a female, getting married would mean she would receive the family registry of her husband. She must be registered to her husband’s family registry due to the royal family not having a name registry. 

The process of marrying a “commoner,” referred to as “descending,” would revoke her status as the princess for the rest of her life. Even in a situation where there was a divorce, she would not be able to return to the royal family lineage. The number of remaining royalty is dwindling to minimal numbers. 

Other pressures on the Princesses marriage are coming from recent rumors about her partner, Kei Komuro. He and his family are rumored to be suffering financial troubles, and some rumors even imply that he is a playboy of sorts. Princess Mako’s family has publicly denounced their relationship due to the negative press and allegedly tried to push Komuro away.

 A Rice-Growing Game Sells Out in Japan

Sakuna: of Rice and Ruin is made by XSeed Games and gives players an opportunity to cultivate rice in extreme detail.

The game Tensui no Sakuna-hime, or Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin, is selling out in Japan in a mad rush that has been referred to as “the rice riots of Reiwa.” The fast-paced side-scroller was developed by Xseed Games and features a journey of a young girl as she fights monsters, crafts items, and above all, harvests rice. 

The action part of the game seems to be just as good as any other. You use your hoe as a weapon and take on demons that are terrorizing the island you live on. But, the real secret for its success is the game’s rice-growing aspect. In the game, the god of fertility, Sakuna, is strengthened by successfully growing rice.

The level of detail of the rice cultivation of the game is very realistic. Players will need to select the proper location to grow their rice, till the land, plant each seed by hand, cultivate it by using animals, harvest the rice, and separate the kernels to eventually obtain rice. Some gamers have even taken to referencing the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries’ website for how to grow rice. The game is so realistic it appears that real-life rice cultivation strategies seem to help in the game.

Hosts of This Week In Japan

Julian Domanski

Born in England, Julian is a writer, videographer & musician living in Tokyo. When he’s not drinking copious amounts of English Tea, he can be found studying Japanese or trying to master the surprisingly complex basics of the Jiuta Shamisen.

Yasuharu Matsuno

Founder of Japan Insider (Former Ryu Tokyo). Japanese-born entrepreneur. Yasu spent his life around the globe – Japan, Singapore, Switzerland, Australia, and the U.S. He hopes he had more time to play Japanese RPGs. MBA from Columbia University in the City of New York.

Christian Dakin

Christian Dakin is an editor, designer, and video game director currently based out of Tokyo, Japan. Originally from a small town in Georgia, he studied in Japan for a year in college before returning again for work. Christian enjoys studying Japanese and the outdoors. In his off time, he is most likely to be found adventuring to a castle, belting it out in karaoke with friends, or in a gym somewhere.

More articles by Christian Dakin

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