Biweekly Update: News on Japan & the Netherlands – Week 11 & 12, 2022

This newsletter was shared with Dujat members on 29-3-2022. The next newsletter was sent out today.
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Update on Japan

The Russian invasion of Ukraine continues to captivate the world, including Japan. Due to the many news updates, we have again compiled a summary of recent developments in Japan regarding this topic:

  • During an emergency summit of the Group of Seven countries held in Brussels, Belgium on Thursday 24 March, Kishida announced additional $100 mil. aid for Ukraine. (Link to full article)
  • University in Tokyo to accept Ukrainian students. (Link to full article + Video report)
  • Japanese minister to visit Poland for talks on accepting Ukrainian evacuees. (Link to full article + Video report)
  • Ukrainian President Zelenskyy addressed Japanese lawmakers online, thanking Japan for putting pressure on Russia and asked for continued sanctions against it. (Link to full article + Video report)
  • Japan to ban exports of luxury goods to Russia. (Link to full article)
  • A private Japanese foundation is to support Ukrainians who make their way to Japan, with plans to provide about 40 million dollars over three years. (Link to full article)

Japan is set to spend 1.45 trillion yen to take additional anti-coronavirus measures, including securing vaccines for the administration of fourth shots, government sources said Thursday 24 March.

The government plans to spend 667 billion yen to purchase vaccines and 439.7 billion yen on treatment drugs, the sources said. The emergency steps also include buying COVID-19 test kits, testing those arriving from abroad, and securing hotels and other accommodations for self-quarantine.

The government will spend the money from funds reserved to fight the pandemic under the state budget for the fiscal year ending this month.

Japan will start preparations for the administration of fourth shots of coronavirus vaccines, a health ministry subcommittee agreed Thursday, after the government said it would procure additional doses from two U.S. pharmaceutical companies.

The details, including whether to actually administer the additional booster shots and who would be eligible, will be determined later.

The agreement of the subcommittee members came after the government said it had agreed to procure a total of 145 million vaccine doses from Pfizer Inc and Moderna Inc to prepare for the rollout of fourth shots. The subcommittee also approved the administration of third shots of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to children aged between 12 and 17, with vaccinations expected to begin as early as next month.

Fourth doses of COVID-19 vaccines are recommended in Israel and Britain, with recipients limited to medical staff and individuals at high risk of developing severe symptoms. The effectiveness of third shots against the highly contagious Omicron variant of the coronavirus has been found to wane over time.

In the meeting, the subcommittee members agreed to the health ministry’s proposal to prepare for the administration of fourth shots, aimed at preventing development of the disease or severe symptoms, based on overseas data on their effectiveness and safety.

Under the proposal, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are expected to be used for the fourth shots. All those who received third shots are likely to be eligible, but the ministry will continue studying the matter. The interval between third shots and the additional boosters will be a minimum of six months in principle, but the ministry will re-examine the matter after taking into account the situation overseas.

Regarding the administration of the fourth shots, Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno Hirokazu said, “We need to study recipients (of the shots) and the timing for starting them based on the duration of third vaccinations and the effectiveness of fourth shots.” Matsuno added that the government will make a decision after hearing the views of experts.

Japan’s prime minister has instructed ministers to compile a package of emergency measures to cope with soaring prices as a result of the war in Ukraine.

Kishida Fumio stressed at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday the importance of protecting the economy and people’s lives. He said social and economic activities need to be kept on a path to recovery.

Kishida told ministers to address key areas, such as rising crude oil prices and the impact of high wheat prices on food and animal feed. He said there needs to be funding to support small and medium-sized businesses affected by high oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic, as well as for people struggling to make ends meet.

He said he would set up a ministerial committee for this purpose that would report directly to him.

Kishida told Economic Revitalization Minister Yamagiwa Daishiro to take the lead on devising the measures by the end of April, in close coordination with the ruling parties.

Japan’s industry ministry says domestic companies are facing growing cybersecurity risks following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The government is urging businesses, organizations and other entities to review their supply chains, and take adequate security steps.

Private-sector research firm Teikoku Databank surveyed more than 1,500 companies in Japan between 11 and 14 March. It found that 28.4% of the respondents detected cyberattacks on their systems within one month prior to the survey.

Targeted businesses include not only large companies, but also overseas subsidiaries as well as smaller firms that are part of supply chains.

The National Police Agency says 146 companies and organizations suffered damage from ransomware attacks last year. It says 79, or 54%, of them were small and mid-sized firms. Ransomware is a computer virus programmed to encrypt data in infected computers and demand money in return for decryption.

Some major Japanese companies came under cyberattacks after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began on 24 February. They are believed to have been subjected to ransomware attacks. One cyberattack caused a system failure on 26 February at Kojima Industries, a parts supplier for Toyota Motor. The automaker suspended operations at all of its plants across Japan on 1 March.

Tire maker Bridgestone also had to suspend operations at several factories in the Americas after its subsidiary Bridgestone Americas detected a cyber-incident on 27 February. Auto parts maker Denso experienced unauthorized access to its group company network in Germany on 10 March.

Confectionery maker Morinaga also experienced unauthorized access to several of its servers on 13 March. The incident impaired some segments of its internal IT system, and affected the manufacturing of some products.

A Tokyo area railway company said it will operate all of its lines solely on renewable energy from next month.

Tokyu Railways announced its eight lines in Tokyo and neighboring Kanagawa, as well as its train stations, will effectively switch to renewable energy from April.

The company will buy a “no-carbon certificate” from its utility for the amount of energy it consumes, which will certify the power is generated from renewable sources.

The railway said that it is the first in Japan to entirely operate all lines with renewable energy. It said it expects to reduce its annual CO2 emissions equivalent to the amount emitted by 56,000 households.

Japan’s “Drive My Car” film has won the Oscar for best international film at the 94th Academy Awards in Los Angeles.

“Drive My Car,” directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi, was also nominated for best picture. It missed out on the Oscar for best adapted screenplay, which was won by “CODA.”

“Drive My Car” — only the second film from Japan to win the Oscar for best international film — portrays theater actors performing Anton Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya” in different languages. The movie is loosely based on a short story by Japanese author Haruki Murakami. It stands as the 13th Japanese film nominated by the Academy.

The collection of short stories by Japanese author Murakami Haruki now has a cumulative print run of 1 million copies after “Drive My Car,” a movie based on one of the stories, won the US Academy Award.

Publisher Bungeishunju said on Monday 28 March that the 2014 book hit the milestone with the decision to print a new run of the book after the movie won the Oscar for best international feature film.

The company said orders began flooding in after “Drive My Car” was nominated for four Oscars in February, leading to a print run of 160,000 copies in about a month. The book has been translated into English under the title “Men Without Women.”

Bungeishunju says it hopes the movie’s success will prompt people who haven’t read Murakami’s works to experience them first-hand.

Update on the Netherlands

RIVM: Repeat vaccination against COVID-19 now also available for over-60s.

The Dutch cabinet is making government office buildings and old prisons available as shelters for Ukrainian refugees. A total of 15,000 places must be created, said Minister Hugo de Jonge (Public Housing) on ​​Friday after the Council of Ministers. The cabinet has reserved 75 million euros to make this possible.

In the coming weeks, the buildings must be prepared to accommodate people, after which the buildings will be made available to the municipalities. They then arrange the accommodation. According to State Secretary Eric van der Burg (Asylum), municipalities have so far arranged about 27,000 places for Ukrainians, of which 17,000 are occupied.

That while more Ukrainian refugees arrive in the Netherlands every day. That is why the cabinet previously asked the 25 security regions to realize at least 50,000 reception places. According to Hubert Bruls, chairman of the Security Council, this should be possible in the short term. Several municipalities are even trying to realize more reception places.

The government would also consider setting up special villages for Ukrainian refugees, the Red Cross and the Dutch Council for Refugees confirm NRC reports. The two organizations are in talks with the government about long-term care.

More than two years after the outbreak of the coronavirus in the Netherlands, the last corona measures were abolished as of Wednesday 23 March.

As of 23 March, the obligation to wear masks in public transport was abolished. Testing for access is no longer necessary at large indoor events and the advice to work from home no longer counts. Apart from the basic measures, they were the last remnants of the corona measures that we had to deal with for more than two years.

But the fact that the measures are disappearing does not mean that the corona virus is gone. The situation in hospitals may have stabilized and the number of infections is falling, but it is still high. Last week, 313,318 infections were identified.

“Corona will remain and will never really go away,” says a spokesperson for the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). “Whether it is ready or not is therefore a matter of definition. For us it will never be ready, because we do not expect the virus to disappear. We will therefore continue to monitor it. That is our job.”

The focus of virologists and other experts is mainly on the autumn. “If the weather flares up, it makes the most sense that it happens in the autumn,” says the RIVM spokesperson.

Then the question is how the virus develops. “Of course we all want it to be a normal winter cold. But we really have to see that,” says Marion Koopmans of Erasmus MC. “It may well be that we get another wave, that there will be a new variant.” In the latter case, we are not yet ‘done’ with covid-19.

The number of vacancies has risen sharply in recent months. Randstad reports this on the basis of a national survey. According to the broadcaster, this is because the catering industry was allowed to open its doors again after the corona restrictions and because the terrace season is about to start. 

The demand for people is high in the hospitality sector. In one year, the number of vacancies in the province of Utrecht, for example, has almost doubled to 1119, in what Randstad calls the ‘hospitality industry’. The number of job seekers in the sector fell by almost half in the same year. needed.

“Many people now work elsewhere,” says Utrecht regional director Badelog van Gelder. “Bridging that gap requires creative solutions.” The broadcaster then thinks of education and training. According to Randstad, a similar picture is visible nationally.

Founder Rik Donders of the catering employment agency DOEN confirmed that there is a huge staff shortage. “The industry is not even 100% open yet because no trade fairs and conferences are being organized yet,” he said. “If that also starts going, we will be in trouble.” According to Donders, depending on their work experience, there will be work for Ukrainian refugees who come forward. “In Amsterdam, for example, it is normal to be served in English,” said Donders. “They could work just fine there.”

Randstad made a list of the most sought-after employees in the hospitality industry. The demand is greatest for service employees. There are also many vacancies for cooks and kitchen staff. Hospitality managers and catering employees are also in demand.

According to the hospitality association KHN, the number of vacancies for most professional groups is still below the pre-Covid levels. Then there was a staff shortage of 40,000 people in the sector. KHN said it does not have recent figures for the current shortage.

People aged 60 to 69 years (and people who turn 60 this year) will also have the opportunity to make an appointment for an extra COVID-19 vaccination. Minister Kuipers decided this based on advice from the Health Council of the Netherlands. The repeat vaccination was already offered to people aged 70 years and older, people living in nursing homes, adults with Down’s syndrome and adults with severely impaired immunity. 

The number of infections and hospital admissions due to the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is increasing in people between the ages of 60 and 69 years. In addition, the protection offered by the booster vaccination is slowly waning. For that reason, a repeat vaccination can now be administered as a precaution.

A repeat vaccination against COVID-19 (also referred to as a second booster vaccination) is an extra dose of vaccine administered 3 months after the last vaccination or SARS-CoV-2 infection. A repeat vaccination improves the effect of previous vaccination(s) and restores protection against serious illness and hospital admission.

The Health Council does not recommend repeat vaccination for people under 60 years. For the time being, this group still has effective protection against serious illness due to COVID-19.

People aged 60 to 69 years are eligible for the repeat vaccination three months after the last vaccination or SARS-CoV-2 infection. As of 26 March, they can make an appointment online for vaccination by the Municipal Public Health Services (GGDs). From 30 March on, the first invitation letters will start arriving; from then on, appointments can also be made by telephone.

From 2024, the Netherlands will ban the use of disposable plastic cups and meal packaging when eating or drinking something in the hospitality industry, at a festival, or at work. That is what State Secretary Vivianne Heijnen (Environment) wrote in a letter to the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

The ban is intended to reduce the single use of plastic. “Every day, in the Netherlands alone, we throw away nineteen million plastic cups and food packaging, after a single use,” Heijnen writes.

Free cups for coffee to go will no longer be allowed from next year. “As of July 2023, an amount must be paid for consumption on the road and takeaway for plastic disposable cups and meal packaging,” said the State Secretary. That amount is in addition to the price of the drink or meal.

This also applies to cups that appear to be made of paper, which are often used for coffee to go. It also contains a layer of plastic. What this means is that disposable plastic cups and food packaging for single use are no longer allowed to be given free of charge with a snack or drink.

All measures are a result of the European Single-Use Plastics Directive. As a result of this directive, all European member states have taken measures since 3 July 2021 to reduce the environmental impact of the ten most commonly found disposable plastic products on beaches, Heijnen writes. For example, the free plastic bags were banned earlier, as well as plastic straws and stirrers.

In the new rules for less plastic, a distinction is made between eating and drinking on site and on the road (collection and delivery). “Reusable tableware will be the starting point for consumption on site by 2024,” said the State Secretary.

An exception applies to healthcare institutions. “When it is really necessary, companies can choose to continue using certain disposable plastic cups and meal packaging,” Heijnen writes. At least three quarters of these must be collected for recycling.

The government wants to triple the flight tax next year. Travelers currently pay 8 euros tax per ticket, but that should be increased to 24 euros, Minister Sigrid Kaag (Finance) reports in a letter to the House of Representatives.

The measure must take effect on January 1, 2023. The tax measure currently raises about 200 million euros. An additional 400 million euros must be added, as was stated in the coalition agreement. The House of Representatives will consider the Tax Plan for 2023 next autumn. It concerns a tax for flights from the Netherlands.

“The air passenger tax means that flying from Dutch airports will become more expensive. As a result, some travelers can refrain from traveling, others will choose another method of transport, others will divert to foreign airports and some will continue to fly,” Kaag wrote to the House of Representatives. .

But for the short term the effects are “relatively limited”, the minister expects. According to her, there is a lot of demand for flights. Kaag expects “in practice no reduced demand”.

The increase is part of a larger package of measures that the Netherlands wants to submit to the European Commission, with which it can call on billions from the European Union’s corona recovery fund. In exchange for money from that fund, countries have to implement reforms, for example in the field of climate.

Unlike fuel for road traffic, for example, no excise duty is levied on aviation fuel (kerosene). Flight tickets are also exempt from VAT.

Update on Dujat & Members

We are pleased to welcome Horizon Flevoland, Konica Minolta Business Solutions Nederland BV and Tokyoesque as new members of Dujat. We look forward to welcoming you to our events!

On Thursday 24 March, the Deshima Netherlands Awards 2021 were presented after a 1-year delay due to COVID-19. The Award in the category ‘well-established’ was presented to Kubota Holdings Europe and in the category ‘newcomer’ to Mitsui Prime ACE.

Fujitsu and Toyota Industries (Vanderlande) were also nominated in the category ‘well-established’, in addition to Kubota. In the category ‘newcomer’ Fuji Oil and Norinchukin Bank Europe made up the list of nominations together with ACE.

On behalf of Dujat and Invest In Holland, congratulations to all winners and nominees and many thanks for your great contribution to sustainable innovation, technology and Japan-Netherlands relations!

We are pleased to invite you to the Corporate Reorganization & Recruitment Seminar on Monday 4 April at the office of Baker McKenzie in Amsterdam. The seminar is organized in collaboration with McDermott + Bull Europe, and will provide your company information on how to prepare for large reorganizations.

Kim Tan, Partner, Board member and Head of the Corporate department at Baker McKenzie in Amsterdam will speak about the challenges of post-acquisition reorganizations and Norbert Meijer, Managing Partner at McDermott + Bull Europe, will speak about the challenges of reaching and attracting the right talent for your organization and provide guidelines for an effective recruitment process through the so called 9 steps recruitment process.

For more information and for registration, we refer to our event site. We look forward to welcoming you at this seminar next week!

If your company has any news to share in the next biweekly newsletter, let us know by sending an e-mail to

Kind regards,

Jinn van Gastel
Project Manager at Dujat

DUJAT (Dutch and Japanese Trade Federation)

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Sources: Nu.nlNOSADRTL NieuwsRIVMJapanTodayNHKNikkei