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Update on Japan
The Japanese government says it will ease COVID-19 quarantine measures from next month, and raise the limit on daily arrivals to 20,000 from the current 10,000.
The government revealed on Friday 20 May that in relaxing the measures, countries and regions will be divided into three groups, depending on risk factors such as rates of recent positive test results upon arrival.
Visitors from areas in the low-risk group will be exempt from virus testing and self-quarantine even if they have not been vaccinated for COVID-19.
People from the group with medium risk will be exempted from tests and self-quarantine if they have received three shots of COVID vaccine. Those who have not had a third shot will be required to have a test and asked to observe at least three days of self-quarantine at home.
For those from areas with high risk, virus testing will continue to be required. They will also be asked to self-quarantine at home for at least three days even if they have received a third vaccine shot. People who have not had a third shot will be asked to stay at designated accommodation facilities for three days.
The government says about 80% of people entering Japan are expected to be exempted from tests and self-quarantine. The government plans to announce next week what countries and regions will belong to which of its three designated risk groups.
The Japanese government has decided to provide a fourth shot of coronavirus vaccine for people aged 60 or older and others with higher risks, starting on 25 May.
Cabinet members decided the details of the plan on Friday 20 May. Health officials say they will offer either the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine or the Moderna vaccine, free of charge. The vaccinations should be given at least five months after the third shot.
They say people aged 18 or older with underlying conditions and those with a high risk of developing serious symptoms will also be eligible. The government will revise the relevant ordinances to implement the measure.
Some local governments and associations of care facilities for the elderly are calling on the government to add medical and care workers to the program.
Regarding the virus in Japan, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government reported 2,025 new cases of the coronavirus in the capital on Monday 23 May.
That is more than 350 less than the government reported seven days ago. It is the tenth straight day that there has been a week-on-week decline. Tokyo officials said the number of seriously ill patients on ventilators or ECMO heart-lung machines was four, up one from Sunday.
The Japanese government has decided to grant Ukraine an additional 300-million-dollar loan to support the country, which continues to resist Russia’s invasion.
The government has been supporting Ukraine and its surrounding nations with humanitarian and financial assistance. It has been discussing specific means to offer Ukraine more support.
Earlier this week, Japan signed a 300-million-dollar loan agreement with Ukraine. With the latest decision, Japan is extending a total of 600 million dollars in loans to the country.
Prime Minister Kishida Fumio plans to brief Japan’s decision at his summit meeting with US President Joe Biden next Monday.
Kishida is also eager to confirm with Biden the Group of Seven nations’ readiness to show unity and continue to provide assistance to Ukraine, and to apply more pressure on Russia through more sanctions.
Japan and the United States have agreed to work together to develop the next generation of semiconductors. Experts welcome the move as a being beneficial to both sides.
The announcement came in a joint statement on Monday following a leaders’ summit in Tokyo. It said they plan to set up a task force for chip development and work toward strengthening the supply chain.
Minamikawa Akira, senior director at the British research firm Omdia, says Russia’s invasion of Ukraine demonstrates how easily the world’s supply chain can be broken. He says enhanced cooperation between Japan and the US can lead to a more stable supply.
Minamikawa notes that US chip makers account for about half of global sales, while Japan has an edge in materials, with more than 50% of the world market.
He says, “When we look at the supply chain as a whole, America’s expertise and Japan’s strength can complement each other. So the two countries make excellent partners.”
Minamikawa also expressed hopes that Tokyo and Washington will work together on developing human talent.
Japanese education experts have urged central and local governments to take urgent steps to address the chronic shortages of teachers.
Four experts released a preliminary result of their survey at a news conference on Monday in Tokyo. They say 20% of 179 vice principals of public schools across the country said there were staff shortages at the start of the new academic year in April.
Nihon University Professor Suetomi Kaori said although a government survey in the last fiscal year found that schools nationwide were 2,558 teachers short, she feels the shortages are more serious. She also said the absence of homeroom teachers is a disadvantage to students, and the situation needs to be addressed immediately.
She added that the survey that began in late April will continue until 22 May. The experts urged central and local authorities to secure funding to employ regular teaching staff and improve the working environment of teachers, many of whom are overworked.
Japan’s Lower House of the Diet plans a questionnaire on women’s participation in politics as the country largely lags behind in female representation in national parliaments.
In Japan, female lawmakers account for only 9.7% of all those elected in last year’s Lower House election. A survey by the Inter-Parliamentary Union shows that as of 1 April, Japan ranked 166th among 188 countries surveyed in terms of the ratios of women in lower or single houses of parliament.
The Japanese Lower House has decided to ask all parliamentarians and political parties about what measures they have taken to promote female participation in politics.
The 58-item questionnaire includes questions on whether they think the number of female lawmakers in the Japanese Diet is satisfactory, whether they think an initiative is needed to secure a certain number of female lawmakers, and whether they think lawmakers need to take maternity and childcare leaves.
It also asks political parties whether their platforms value gender equality and whether they think the proportion of female executive members in their parties is sufficient. The Lower House plans to present findings from the anonymous survey during the current Diet session.
More Japanese multinationals are devoting resources to analyzing economic security risks, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and other geopolitical turmoil spotlight their difficulty in making quick decisions to minimize potential losses.
Hitachi established an economic security office within its external relations division in April. The team shares developments in various countries with relevant departments, broadening beyond the conglomerate’s previous approach of holding overarching discussions at management meetings.
“We will implement robust risk management and establish a system where we can stably maintain our target profit margins,” President Kojima Keiji said.
Engineering company IHI created an economic security management team in October, bringing together expertise from areas including its legal department, where staffers confer with government officials on issues such as equipment exports. Other companies making moves in this direction include beverage group Kirin Holdings, sportswear maker Asics and big trading houses like Mitsubishi Corp.
Such analysis has been a weakness across much of corporate Japan, as illustrated by the relatively slow response to the invasion of Ukraine.
More than 300 companies globally had withdrawn from Russia as of mid-May, information compiled by Yale University shows. This list is heavy on Western businesses, which often have specialized risk assessment departments. Shell, for example, introduced scientific scenario planning in the 1970s, and likely used such analysis in its decision to exit Russia.
Yet few Japanese businesses are making what the Yale list calls a “clean break.” “Japanese companies are weak when it comes to intelligence tied into geopolitical risks,” said Adachi Keisuke, a partner at KPMG Japan and an expert on corporate crisis response.
Back in 1987, Toshiba Machine — now known as Shibaura Machine — was found to have supplied machine tools to the Soviet Union in violation of export controls. The scandal asked tough questions of companies regarding their positions on security issues.
But Japanese companies outside of defense-linked industries are not that sensitive to economic security. They need to catch up, said Kumiko Pivette, an expert on geopolitical risk at PwC Japan.
“Economics and security are entangled in complicated ways,” Pivette said. “We’re in a time when companies are right in the middle of disputes among nations.”
In addition to building a foundation for risk analysis, companies need to find or cultivate talent with the knowledge or information-gathering know-how. A survey by PwC Japan found that 48% of Japanese companies had no geopolitical risk specialists on staff.
Update on the Netherlands
Since the first cases of the monkeypox virus were diagnosed on 7 May in countries outside Africa, 131 cases have been registered in 19 countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports. There are also a further 106 suspected cases.
The WHO calls the recent outbreak unusual, but manageable for now. Normally, the virus only occurs in parts of Africa and does not spread easily between people. It can only be transmitted through close contact between people, or by, for example, wearing the clothing of an infected person. Most people who are infected recover within a few weeks. The WHO will provide more advice to countries to contain the outbreak.
So far, RIVM has so far established the monkeypox virus in six people in the Netherlands. Some of the infected persons have been to the Darklands festival in Belgium, the institute reports.
Last Friday 20 May, the first case of monkeypox was diagnosed in the Netherlands. RIVM and Erasmus MC are jointly investigating samples to quickly identify new cases.
In all six cases, it concerns cases of people who had sexual contact. Health authorities point out that although the virus can be transmitted through sexual contact, it is not a sexually transmitted disease. Monkeypox can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, but also through sharing bedding. The virus is subject to a reporting obligation in the Netherlands
The Belgian Ministry of Health has been able to trace three infections in Belgium to the festival, Darklands reports in a press statement.
The monkeypox virus was rare in Europe, but has recently been popping up more and more. Those who contract the virus are ill for an average of two to four weeks. Common complaints are fever, muscle aches and fatigue. Bumps then appear on the skin that turn into blisters. Until the scabs fall off the blisters, people are contagious. Only people who are at high risk of becoming infected can be vaccinated. It is rarely fatal.
The European health service ECDC reported that the virus does not spread quickly from person to person, because intensive contact is required. The service emphasizes that it is important that European countries are able to identify new cases quickly. To prevent further spread, they must use source and contact investigations. According to the ECDC, the chance is small that the virus will spread on a large scale among the European population.
The Dutch police are concerned about the rise of 3D-printed firearms. These are increasingly found both here and abroad. Police and justice are calling for a ban on the distribution of designs for 3D weapons.
Last year, the police found 3D firearms or parts for them 14 times. It was the first time that the police encountered such weapons in the Netherlands. Police also discovered a number of workshops where firearms were printed on a larger scale.
3D firearms have been found a few times this year, says Andy Kraag, head of the national investigation. “We see that these weapons are reaching a new target group: people who are not part of the criminal circuit, but who do want to have a weapon, such as people with extremist ideas.”
As far as is known, no weapons from the 3D printer have been used in shootings in the Netherlands, but they have been used abroad. For example, the perpetrator of the attack in the German city of Halle in 2019 had homemade weapons.
There seems to be interest not only among extremists, but also among hobbyists who enjoy experimenting with making 3D weapons. Dangerous, police warn. Shooting tests show that the weapons are very unreliable. “A lot of expertise is needed to properly assemble such a weapon,” says Kraag. “In the worst case scenario, it will explode when you fire.”
Having 3D weapons (or parts thereof) is prohibited in the Netherlands. The same rules apply as for regular firearms. But publishing and distributing the designs for 3D weapons is not punishable by law. That must change, according to the police and the Public Prosecution Service.
The police are talking about tackling homemade weapons with other European countries and with manufacturers of 3D printers. “We are looking at whether we can also create technological barriers in printers, so that these kinds of blueprints are no longer accepted,” says Andy Kraag.
Making a plastic firearm is easy with a 3D printer costing a few hundred euros and a design from the internet. Printing the parts takes about four days. However, a number of metal parts are still needed, such as a barrel, spring and valve.
Although 3D weapons have also been found in the Netherlands since last year, the number is still minimal compared to regular firearms. Nevertheless, detective Kraag sees a reason to sound the alarm right now. “Weapons of this kind have evolved enormously in a few years. We are on the cusp of a potential problem and would like to anticipate it.”
Aviation group Air France-KLM is going to issue more shares and wants to raise almost 2.3 billion euros in this way. The company wants to use the money to, among other things, pay back the corona support faster and strengthen its balance sheet. The Dutch State plans to buy additional shares so that its interest remains the same, Air France-KLM reports in a press statement. According to Minister Sigrid Kaag (Finance), this would cost about 220 million euros.
The Netherlands currently has a 9.3% interest in Air France-KLM and almost 14% of the so-called voting rights. If the State does not buy additional shares in such a share issue, that interest is diluted. That leads to less control.
According to Air France-KLM, the government has announced that it wants to maintain the interest, although this still requires approval from parliament.
Minister Kaag reported on Tuesday in a letter to parliament that this is expected to cost 220 million euros. “If the Dutch State does not participate, the interest is expected to dilute to 2%,” she adds.
In total, the Dutch State has now invested 1.9 billion euros in Air France-KLM. In 2019, the government bought a 14% stake for 744 million euros. That later diluted to 9.3%, but now the State is investing another 220 million euros to retain that interest. The corona support to KLM was about 942 million euros.
The latter amount will in principle be refunded. That is one of the reasons for the capital round. In total, Air France-KLM wants to issue more than 1.9 million new shares. Of the proceeds, 1.7 billion euros will be used to repay corona support.
The French government, the largest shareholder of Air France-KLM with a stake of 28.6%, is also participating and will thus maintain its interest.
It was recently announced that Air France-KLM has signed a major air freight deal with the French container carrier CMA CGM. The latter company will buy in for 400 million euros during the issue and had already announced that it would take a maximum stake of 9% in Air France-KLM. Partners China Eastern Airlines and Delta Air Lines are also participating.
ASML and Philips, together with the Brabantse Ontwikkelings Maatschappij (BOM), research institute TNO, pension fund PME and government fund Invest-NL, are launching a special investment fund for young technology companies. The fund will have a size of at least €100 million. The parties announced this on Tuesday 24 May. They would not say how much the parties will contribute individually, FD reports.
The new fund will be called DeepTechXL Fund I, as it will focus on complex technologies, including photonics and artificial intelligence. In addition to access to capital, the start-ups are guided by technology companies from Brabant and can use their network, knowledge, technologies and licenses.
‘The uniqueness of DeepTechXL is that intensive use can be made of deep-tech knowledge and experience of companies and knowledge institutes in the Brainport ecosystem,’ says ASML CEO Peter Wennink in an explanation of the initiative. ‘This allows us to make the necessary combination of knowledge, talent and money available to start-ups and scale-ups in deep tech in the Netherlands.’ Where necessary, the companies also want to help start-ups to acquire first customers, to tap into new markets or to scale up production.
According to Brigit van Dijk-van de Reijt, CEO of BOM, investments in deep tech in the early phase carry a great risk. ‘Incumbent market parties were generally unwilling to take that risk and prefer to invest at a later stage,’ she says. ‘In Brabant alone, €1 billion to €1.5 billion will be needed in this segment over the next five years.’ In principle, the start-ups can count on a capital injection of up to €15 million per application, she says. The fund uses an investment horizon of ten to twelve years.
Philips CEO Frans van Houten is convinced that the initiative will generate more start-ups and scale-ups. ‘Innovation, entrepreneurship and collaboration are the lifeblood of Philips and Brainport Eindhoven’, says van Houten. ‘Philips has produced many technologies, collaborations and companies, and with that we have stood at the cradle of Brainport’s innovative power.’
The fund is complementary to the €250 million public Deep Tech Fund (DTF) established in March by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate and Invest-NL. The new fund differs from the DTF in that it is a private fund. ‘The two funds complement each other’, says Van Dijk-van de Reijt, pointing out that it is not just a capital injection. ‘What is unique is that technology companies in Brabant will immediately guide start-ups on their path to growth and propose solutions for problems they encounter in practice.’
The Netherlands Enterprise Agency has provided DeepTechXL with a loan of €9 million, intended for so-called seed investments. These are investments of several tons to €1 million for start-ups in the first phase. The fund is targeting about twenty investments in the early phase and about fifteen investments in the next growth phase.
DeepTechXL is managed by business people. The fund management is not placed with Invest-NL in Amsterdam, but in Eindhoven. The fund management consists of four people: Guus Frericks, former director and founder of HighTechXL, Teska van Vuren, former NautaDutilh partner, Ron Mauer, director of corporate development at Stork and Ronald Meersschaert, former partner at Ramphastos Investments, the investment company of Marcel Boekhoorn. The fund management is already in talks with a number of companies. The first contract is expected shortly.
The Netherlands participates in the Expo 2025 world exhibition in Osaka. This was decided by the Council of Ministers on a proposal from Minister Schreinemacher for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation. From now on, preparations for the design of the Dutch pavilion will begin. Osaka expects 28 million business and private visitors.
Japan will host the World’s Fair in Osaka from 13 April to 13 October, 2025 with the theme ‘Designing Future Society for Our Lives’.
About 150 countries and 25 organizations will participate in the World Expo in Japan. 20 million euros has been reserved for the Dutch participation. The previous Expo took place in Dubai.
Japan is one of the largest economies in the world and an important trading partner for the Netherlands. In 2021, the Netherlands exported 4.3 billion euros worth of goods to Japan. The Netherlands is also an important investment country for Japan. More than 600 Japanese companies together have more than 800 branches in the Netherlands. The impact of the Dutch participation in the Expo is broader. Many visitors are also expected from the East Asian region, for example from South Korea. Moreover, in 2025, the Netherlands and Japan will celebrate 415 years of good relations.
The Dutch participation in Dubai provided a springboard for the Netherlands to Dubai and the wider Gulf region. More than 125 events for companies and knowledge institutions took place in the pavilion. Dozens of trade missions from the Netherlands also visited, including two led by a minister. The fifty companies that participated in the trade mission to Dubai in November 2021 indicate that together they already expect more than 100 million euros in extra turnover. With the pavilion and the participating organizations and companies, the Netherlands has presented its business card and our trading position has been strengthened, especially in the Gulf region. That is also the stake in Japan.
In the coming period, there will be close collaboration with the Dutch business community and Dutch cultural organizations and knowledge institutions about the design and realization of the pavilion and the activities surrounding the Expo in Osaka.
Update on Dujat & Members
Yesterday we sent the invitations for our company visit and networking lunch which is organized together with Port of Amsterdam and Hitachi Construction Machinery Europe on Friday 24 June. The event is filling up quickly and we only have limited seats available, so if you are interested, please register here or contact our office for more information.
If your company has any news to share in the next biweekly newsletter, let us know by sending an e-mail to email@example.com.
Jinn van Gastel
Project Manager at Dujat
DUJAT (Dutch and Japanese Trade Federation)
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