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Update on Japan
On Friday 1 July, Japan’s government eased its travel warning over the coronavirus pandemic for 34 countries, including China, South Korea and India, and is no longer requesting that residents in Japan refrain from non essential trips to those nations.
The Foreign Ministry also lowered its travel advisory for France, Germany and Italy, as well as other 11 European nations, by one notch to the lowest Level 1 on its four-point scale, advising Japanese nationals traveling to those regions to “stay fully alert.”
The total number of areas under the Level 1 category has increased to 70. In late May, Japan moved 36 countries and regions to the lowest level, including the United States, Britain, Canada and Hong Kong.
The relaxation of the warning for South Korea came two days after flights between Seoul’s Gimpo airport and Tokyo’s Haneda airport resumed. They had been suspended for more than two years due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Meanwhile, 90 nations and regions remain under the Level 2 warning, including 16 in Asia and Oceania, such as Taiwan, Indonesia and Australia, along with 27 European nations. As for the Level 3 advisory, which urges residents to avoid all travel, all 41 countries remain unchanged.
Regarding measures for travel to Japan, these have not been relaxed yet. As of 10 June, Japan is allowing foreign tourists to visit, but in limited numbers and only on group tours, not as individual travelers, and rules such as requiring travelers to have a special tour coordinator, stay on specific routes and stick together as a group. It is not clear yet when these measures will be further relaxed.
The Japanese government has officially decided to provide roughly 200 million dollars in aid to help offset the global food insecurity that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused.
On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa made an announcement about a detailed plan that was approved at a Cabinet meeting earlier in the day.
Hayashi said the funds will help supply food to Middle Eastern and African countries that have been hit hard by the decline in grain imports from Ukraine and Russia.
He said international organizations will help distribute the funds. Hayashi added that the money will also help increase food production capacity.
The foreign minister said some of the funds will be used to help build storage facilities for wheat and other grains in Ukraine, so that exports from the country can be resumed.
He said Japan will work with the Group of Seven countries and other nations in the international community to try to maintain food security in the world.
Prime Minister Kishida Fumio had pledged to provide 200 million dollars in aid at the G7 summit that was held in Germany in late June.
Japan plans to establish a cabinet post to promote business creation, a key element in Prime Minister Kishida Fumio’s vision of a “new form of capitalism.”
The position will be responsible for coordinating startup-related policies across ministries and agencies.
Kishida’s government wants to nurture more young businesses — an area where Japan tends to lag other major economies — as part of its efforts to spur economic growth while narrowing income inequality.
Neighboring South Korea has a ministry of small and midsize enterprises and startups.
The new Japanese post is to debut in the cabinet reshuffle expected after Sunday’s election for the upper house of parliament. The role could be assigned to the economy, trade and industry minister or the minister for economic revitalization to avoid adding more cabinet-level officials.
The minister will work to increase the number of Japanese startups by tenfold over the next five years under a road map to be issued later this year.
“We will clarify how [startup support policies] will be directed,” Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kihara Seiji told reporters Monday.
Japanese households and businesses on Friday 1 July entered a three-month period to conserve electricity to prevent a power crunch amid a record-breaking heat wave, marking the first time in seven years that the government has made such a request.
Unusually hot weather in June has kept power demand extremely high, with supply expected to remain tight throughout the summer due to persistent heat and infrastructure issues. While a numerical target has not been set for the period through September, the government is calling for people to reduce energy consumption without disrupting daily life and economic activities.
The Japanese archipelago has endured record-high temperatures over the past few days with the mercury reaching 35 C and above in many areas and the hot weather expected to continue. The mercury in central Tokyo reached 37.0 C in the morning, surpassing the country’s “extreme heat” threshold of 35 C for the seventh consecutive day. In the central Japan prefecture of Aichi, the temperature climbed to 38.2 C at one point in the city of Toyota.
Due to the heightened risk of heatstroke, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is calling on people to continue use of air conditioners and instead save electricity via measures such as turning off unnecessary lights.
A government spokesman also urged the people to take off face masks outdoors to prevent heatstroke as many in the country have continued wearing them since the outbreak of the coronavirus. “We are asking the public to take off the masks except for when talking at a short distance,” Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kihara Seiji told a regular news conference.
Energy-saving measures are especially encouraged between 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., when solar power generation declines.
The ministry issued a power usage warning for four consecutive days from Monday in Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc’s service area as sweltering temperatures in the Japanese capital and surrounding areas were expected to result in pressure on the system. The warning was lifted for Friday as concern over a power crunch eased, but the risk of an electricity shortage remains due to issues such as aging thermal power plants.
On Thursday, the Nakoso coal- and oil-fired power plant in Fukushima Prefecture was temporarily halted due to a technical problem. It partially resumed operation the same day.
Some electricity suppliers will begin a point system in July to reward households that take energy-saving measures. The government has also decided to provide power-saving points in August worth 2,000 yen to households if they participate.
According to the industry ministry, the trouble of procuring fuel for thermal power generation is increasing due to Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, with concerns over a power crunch likely to intensify in winter when solar power generation declines.
The disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant triggered by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami led to the suspension of many of the country’s reactors, with the government consistently calling for energy-saving measures to be taken until 2015. The government stopped making the requests from 2016 after some nuclear plants resumed operation.
Digital technology is now helping schools in Japan detect early signs of bullying as students increasingly use tablets and other devices.
Japanese telecom giant NTT Communications has developed a system that illustrates the relationships between students, to show who is isolated.
When children submit assignments using a tablet, their work is shared among everyone in the class. The system analyzes the number of comments and likes posted, and shows which student is having frequent interactions with which classmates.
Teachers can use their own tablets to see who is not communicating much with other students, and promptly offer support to those who need it.
An NTT Communications official said “The system enables teachers to spot who is being left out in class. If we can identify such children at an early stage, it will give teachers time to intervene and provide support.”
Meanwhile, Tokyo-based start-up firm Standby has developed a system that lets students select their health condition and mood every day from four options. That information will then be shared among teachers.
The system can also be used by teachers to conduct bullying surveys of students and collect firsthand information. The company says it hopes this will lead to nipping bullying in the bud.
The company’s president says he wants to create an environment in which teachers are always alert to cries for help from students.
The government of Tokyo has announced a new Japanese term for maternity/paternity leave; switching from ‘Kyugyo’ to ‘Ikugyo’ with hopes to change attitudes regarding parental leave.
Governor of Tokyo Koike Yuriko wants people to stop using the old term because paternal leave is not a vacation. In a lot of Japanese vocabulary words, if you hear the sound kyu, it means “rest.” For example, the word for “break” (as in “take a break”) is kyukei, and the one for “holiday” is kyujitsu.
But the kyu word we’re talking about today is kyugyo. Kyugyo is a handy compact expression for a leave of absence from work, and it’s written by combining the kanji character 休, meaning “rest,” with 業, meaning “an enterprise or undertaking,” and in many cases, by association, “work.”
Kyugyo is often combined with some other vocabulary word to specify the reason someone is taking leave, which is where we get the expression ikuji kyugyo. Ikuji means “child rearing,” and so ikuji kyugyo is when a new mother or father takes parental leave.
Tokyo governor Koike Yuriko doesn’t like the sound of “ikuji kyugyo,” though, since individually, those kanji mean: 育 = raising, 児 = child, 休 = rest, 業 = work.
Koike is concerned that the etymology of ikuji kyugyo could be creating a sense that people who take maternity or paternity leave are “resting” while they’re not “working” in the office, in turn making it socially difficult for new parents to take the time off necessary to care for a newborn and maintain their own health as well. Because of that, Koike called for suggestions for a new term to describe parental leave, and after receiving some 8,800 submissions, the committee in charge of the project has decided on the word ikugyo.
The word is formed by removing the middle portion of ikuji kyugyo, leaving just the kanji for “raising” and “work.” The intended implication is a reminder that mothers and fathers taking parental leave aren’t resting and relaxing, but instead involved in an important and involved enterprise of providing for a new member of both their family and society.
“Parental leave is not, by any means, a vacation,” Koike asserted in a speech on 29 June announcing the selection of ikugyo. “Child rearing is the important job of caring for the ones who will carry the future. In addition to ‘work,’ ‘gyo’ also has the meaning of expending effort to achieve something.”
The Tokyo Metropolitan government plans to use the ikugyo terminology in awareness campaigns and public service activities, but has not made any direct pledge to retire ikuji kyugyo entirely from official documents and statements.
Update on the Netherlands
The consequences of the blockade of various supermarket distribution centers are now starting to become visible in many supermarkets, the Central Bureau for Food Trade (CBL) told NU.nl on Monday. It is mainly visible in gaps in shelves where normally fresh products, such as eggs, fruit and meat.
In protest against the cabinet’s nitrogen plans, farmers set out early on Monday to block supermarket distribution centers. At least twenty distribution centers are still blocked around 3.45 pm, including several from chains such as Albert Heijn and Jumbo.
The consequences of the farmers’ blockades are now becoming apparent. According to the CBL, there will be gaps in the shelves for fresh products in many supermarkets. Normally, these products are replenished several times a day, but in many cases this is not possible due to the blockages.
The organization also fears that the blockages will lead to spoilage of fresh products, which must then be thrown away. Earlier in the day, the CBL warned about unnecessary food waste as a result of the actions of the farmers.
The blockages are also felt by grocery delivery companies such as Picnic. “We had to cancel almost the entire morning delivery, because nobody was able to enter or leave the distribution centers. That concerns thousands of customers,” CEO Michiel Muller previously told NU.nl. Flash delivery drivers are also hindered by the blockades, because they are partly supplied from Jumbo distribution centers.
The farmers want to make a point with the blockade of the distribution centers. “Because supermarkets pay so little for our products, farmers cannot invest in better stables or other measures,” explains Jeroen van Maanen of the Dutch Dairy Farmers’ Union to the NOS.
Van Maanen admits that the action also affects citizens, but he says that the action serves as a warning: “It can go so fast and the shelves are empty. The nitrogen rules endanger the food supply.”
There are still many schools that have not yet put the ventilation in order. Minister Wiersma for Primary and Secondary Education calls on them to do so before the autumn starts and corona continues to revive: “There are many options that schools can use. So do that and tackle that ventilation.”
Wiersma is making another 140 million euros available for a tailor-made scheme. It is intended for the school buildings with the worst ventilation, for the most urgent situations. School boards can get a maximum of 60% of the costs back through the scheme.
There are approximately 9,000 school buildings in the Netherlands, where 2.5 million students are taught and 285,000 people work. “There is work to be done,” says Wiersma. “The furnishing and indoor climate of many schools is no longer adequate.” Good ventilation is not only important in the fight against corona, but also promotes learning performance, the minister believes.
Many school boards have already tackled ventilation in the classrooms, together with their municipality. A budget of 360 million euros was available for this. There are also special assistance teams from Ruimte-OK to help schools. They visit schools that want advice. That has now happened 214 times.
Not all schools have CO2 meters in the classrooms yet. Wiersma points out that money is also available for the purchase of these meters, which shows whether more ventilation is necessary.
Almost all major festivals in the Netherlands will stop using disposable cups in the near future. Instead, festival-goers have to hand in their used cup in order to buy a new drink. The cups are taken to a recycling plant at the end of the festival or washed and reused.
The largest festival organizer in the Netherlands, Mojo, did four trials this year to test the system. The final test was last weekend at the three-day hip-hop festival Woo Hah! in Hilvarenbeek.
“It means extra work for us,” says Ruud Lemmen, director of the festival. “The cups are gathered, end up in a press container and are then collected. That is extra work, but you save on cleaning. It makes a huge difference if there are not 100,000 cups on the floor.”
Some visitors find it annoying that they have to hold cups and return them to the bar. “It is a small effort for a better world”, Lemmen responds.
The recycling system was tested at Anouk’s performance in The Hague, at Parkpop and at Stadspark Live in Groningen. According to Lemmen, it must be strange if not all of Mojo’s festivals work with the new approach next year.
To prevent festival-goers from throwing away their cups on the grass as before, recycling coins are used. Visitors receive such a coin in advance that they can use to get a cup. At some events, the coin has to be paid for and the visitor can get the money back at the end.
If a visitor does not want to drink anything for a while, a cup can be exchanged for a recycling coin. Music venues such as AFAS Live, Ziggo Dome and 013 in Tilburg are now also working with the trade-in system.
Laura van de Voort of Green Events has been trying for years to get festivals to stop using disposable cups. “The most important thing is that you give people a reason to return the cup. Past trials have shown that people don’t do that on their own.”
She thinks it won’t be long before all the festivals have switched. “A festival site full of plastic waste will soon be a thing of the past. Visitors really don’t want that anymore.”
She points out that it will also become an obligation under the law. “With this festival summer there are only two seasons left to practice and after that you have to reuse or recycle as a festival.”
Due to a staff shortage at the NS, fewer trains will be running on a number of routes from Monday. The NS reported this on Sunday 3 July. This week there will be fewer trains on six routes, which is two more than last week.
During rush hours, fewer Sprinters will run between Rotterdam Central and Gouda Goverwelle. Also on working days until 8.30 pm, fewer Sprinters will run between The Hague Central and Gouda Goverwelle.
Fewer intercity trains also run between Arnhem, Schiphol and Rotterdam, during rush hour between Enkhuizen and Amsterdam Central, on Saturday between Dordrecht and Lelystad Center and on Monday to Saturday between Amsterdam Central and Eindhoven Central, the NS reports.
NS expects to be able to announce more about the consequences of the staff shortage from 11 July at a later date. According to the NOS, fewer trains would then run on eight routes.
Last month, the NS had to use fewer trains on a number of routes. The transport company has many vacancies and is looking for conductors, drivers and mechanics, among others.
Update on Dujat & Members
We are pleased to inform you that the Nihon no hanga museum in Amsterdam will open its doors to welcome a small group of Dujat members for a tour, presentation and drinks, on Monday the 1st of August from 17:00.
Due to the limited space we can only welcome a small group, and more than half of the available places were already taken, so we recommend to not wait too long and sign up soon if you are interested.
Effective July 1st, Frank Rutten, director of Operations for Nippon Gases in BNF will be promoted to the role of Managing Director Nippon Gases BNF. Frank will replace Helder Teixeira who has accepted a new assignment in Singapore as President and CEO for Nippon Sanso Holding Singapore. Helder will benefit from his vast experience in international assignments and his all-round knowledge of the Industrial Gases business to be successful in his new assignment.
With the appointment of Frank to the Managing Director role Nippon Gases will have a strong local leader for the BNF region. During his more than 30 years in the company, Frank has built up a lot of experience and in depth knowledge of the business. Frank and his team will be able to further grow the BNF organisation in all the business lines and continue to contribute to the success of Nippon Gases Europe.
Frank Rutten joined Praxair in 1992 as a Hydride Technician in Oevel (Belgium) and held several positions with increasing responsibility in the operations and supply chain area for our Semiconductor Specialty Gases Business in Europe. In November 2011 he was promoted to the position of Operations Manager PAG & ESPG for the Benelux & France and in 2014 to Operations Director for cylinder gases in Germany and the Benelux. Since the beginning of 2017, he has been leading the operations and logistic activities in Benelux and France.
If your company has any news to share in the next biweekly newsletter, let us know by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jinn van Gastel
Project Manager at Dujat
DUJAT (Dutch and Japanese Trade Federation)
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