Foreign minister wants his own plane for overseas trips
Japan Today -- Dec 20
Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said Tuesday he needs a better way to travel overseas to compete with China's diplomatic clout, including potentially the purchase of a dedicated airplane

At present, the foreign minister and his staff travel on commercial flights, while the prime minister and members of the imperial family use government aircraft for overseas trips.

Kono said that since early 2013, he and his predecessor Fumio Kishida have made only about a third of the number of overseas trips that Chinese counterpart Wang Yi has made during the same period.

While noting that Wang is free from the parliamentary obligations demanded of a Japanese foreign minister, Kono said the government "needs to think carefully about how to close that gap."

"Having to use commercial quite a big handicap when thinking of Japan's national interest," Kono said.

"We could buy a dedicated plane, rent or lease one, or borrow private-sector business jets when not in use; there are various different options to consider," he said.

On Monday, Kono had told a meeting of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's Foreign Affairs Division that costs for an airplane could be included in the budget for fiscal 2019.

He said he would not mind a small or used aircraft, and suggested Gulfstream Aerospace Corp's G650ER due to its long range without needing to refuel despite its small passenger capacity.

外務大臣の外遊にも専用機が必要だと訴えました。 河野外務大臣:「中国の王毅外務大臣は(過去5年間に)延べ262カ国を訪問をしている。ほぼ3倍近い訪問国の差がついている。
News sources: Japan Today, ANNnewsCH
Dec 18
Police believe an explosion at a Sapporo building that left 42 people injured on Sunday was caused by gas leaking from more than 100 deodorizer spray cans, intended for disposal, at a real estate agency. (Japan Times)
Dec 18
Japanese water is clean and readily available, as evidenced by drinkable tap water and a nearly 100 percent penetration rate. (Japan Times)
Dec 18
PayPay, a mobile payments company backed by SoftBank Group Corp., Yahoo Japan Corp. and India’s largest digital-payments company Paytm, said it’s updating its app to strengthen security after multiple complaints from users of wrongful charges. (Bloomberg)
Dec 18
Toyama Prefectural Police are investigating what is believed to have been a hit-and-run incident after the corpse of a man was found inside a smashed display window at a store in Toyama City, reports Sankei Sports (Dec. 15). (
Dec 17
More than 40 people were injured on Sunday when an explosion caused a fire at a commercial building housing a pub in Sapporo City on Japan's northern main island of Hokkaido. Police suspect a gas leak may be the cause. (NHK)
Dec 17
A famous hot spa resort is offering an online map showing "onsen" spots available for tattooed tourists traveling to the region for next year's Rugby World Cup in Japan. (Kyodo)
Dec 17
Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has revealed that the government plans to open about 100 support centers for foreign workers across Japan. (NHK)
Dec 16
Rino Sashihara, a leading Japanese idol singer, will leave the all-girl musical group HKT48, an affiliate of the country's entertainment giant AKB48, next year, she said Saturday. (Kyodo)
Dec 16
The education ministry plans to include ¥1.52 trillion in its budget for fiscal 2019 to cover personnel costs for teachers at public elementary and junior high schools, it has been learned. (Japan Times)
Dec 15
Japan's central government is pushing ahead with a controversial plan to relocate an American military base within the southern prefecture of Okinawa. They've started full-scale land reclamation work despite strong local opposition. (NHK)