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Update on Japan
Prime Minister Kishida Fumio is coming under pressure for the upcoming week to explore whether to again declare a state of emergency in Tokyo where hospital beds have been increasingly occupied by COVID-19 patients.
The ratio of such hospital beds in the capital hit 48.5% Sunday, nearing the 50% threshold for the metropolitan government to consider requesting a state of emergency in an attempt to enhance anti-coronavirus measures.
Tokyo, despite having introduced quasi-emergency steps this month mainly to prevent the virus from spreading at restaurants and bars, reported Sunday an additional 15,895 coronavirus infections. The daily figure topped 10,000 cases for the sixth straight day. The seven-day rolling average stood at 14,699.9, up 86% from a week earlier.
New infections nationwide came to 78,128 on Sunday, according to a tally based on reports by prefectural governments. Patients with serious symptoms rose by 33 from the previous day to 767, the health ministry said.
Tokyo Gov Koike Yuriko has appeared cautious about immediately seeking a state of emergency, which would significantly impact economic activity. “While assessing the effects of the measures (already introduced), we will comprehensively consider (the matter) in cooperation with the central government,” she said at a press conference Friday.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno Hirokazu, the top government spokesman, said at a news conference last Tuesday that careful consideration would be necessary as an emergency declaration “involves severe restrictions on personal rights.”
But some senior lawmakers of the ruling coalition said they believe such measures are imminent. “People’s lives are the most important. I think the government will make a decision without hesitation,” Takaichi Sanae, policy chief of Kishida’s Liberal Democratic Party, said during a television program Sunday.
Takeuchi Yuzuru, policy chief of the LDP’s junior coalition partner Komeito, also appeared on the program and said that a state of emergency must naturally be considered as “a further increase in infections would potentially also increase the number of serious cases.”
The Japanese government is exempting hundreds of foreign students from an entry ban imposed in late November. More than 100,000 others remain locked out of the country.
Education Ministry officials say about 400 can now come to study because it serves the public interest and is a matter of urgency. A total of 87 foreign students with Japanese government scholarships have already been exempted.
Authorities imposed the ban, which effectively blocks entry to non-resident foreigners, at the end of November in light of the Omicron coronavirus variant. It’s scheduled to run through February.
Scholars and students have been urging the government to ease the restriction.
Japan will further shorten the quarantine period to seven days from the current 10 for people who have been in close contact with someone infected with the novel coronavirus, Prime Minister Kishida said Friday.
The new policy was announced as the highly transmissible Omicron variant of the virus continues to spread rapidly, making it increasingly difficult to maintain social and economic activities.
As for essential workers such as medical staff, police officers and child care and nursing care workers, the period will be reduced from the current six days to five days by using a combination of two COVID-19 tests, Kishida said.
He told reporters the decision was made in light of “expert opinions and new scientific evidence,” noting also that Japan needs to strike a balance between curbing infections and maintaining functions in society.
The health ministry said the 10-day self-isolation required for people entering Japan will also be reduced to seven days starting Saturday.
On 14 January the government reduced the quarantine period from 14 days to 10 days, but the business community among others was calling for it to be shortened further by taking into account the new variant’s characteristics.
Japan’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases has said based on its analysis that the risk of developing symptoms from Omicron is less than 1% on the 10th day after coming into contact with the strain, compared with 5% on the seventh day.
Japan’s government has begun accepting applications for cash handouts to be offered to small and midsized businesses facing declining sales amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry began accepting applications online on Monday. The program offers up to 2.5 million yen in subsidies, depending on the size of the business.
It covers companies that suffer a year-on-year sales decline of 30% or more in any month between November of last year and March. Previous subsidy programs covered only enterprises whose sales went down by more than 50% in a given month.
Up to one million yen will be granted to businesses that bring in a total of less than 100-million yen whose sales plummet by more than 50%.
Up to 1.5 million yen will be offered to those with sales of between 100 and 500-million yen. Businesses with sales above this mark will be paid up to 2.5 million yen. The program also offers benefits for the self-employed, including freelancers.
The applications must first be vetted by a licensed tax accountant or a body such as a chamber of commerce, with the aim of preventing fraud.
The Japanese government plans to create guidelines for companies to disclose “human capital” metrics such as employee diversity and human resource training as soon as this summer, Nikkei has learned.
Human capital, the abilities and knowledge of workers, is seen as an asset that can generate new ideas. The U.S. and Europe lead the way in this area, and the government hopes that the disclosure of such information will help attract new investment.
The Cabinet Secretariat in February will set up a special committee to study specific disclosure items and evaluation methods. In cooperation with the Financial Services Agency, it will consider requiring listed companies to include the information in their annual reports in the future.
Among the disclosure items being considered are the ratio of female and non-Japanese employees, and information on midcareer hires. Regarding human resources education, policies on reskilling and learning opportunities outside the company will be candidates. Measures to prevent harassment in the workplace will also be discussed.
U.S. companies, which have been required to disclose such information since August 2020, report turnover rates, wages by gender and race as well as other data points. In 2014, the European Union issued a directive requiring companies of a certain size to disclose information about “society and employees.” The U.K., Hong Kong and India also require companies to report how much they spend on human resources and on protecting human rights.
The Corporate Governance Code, which was revised last June, requires companies to include in their disclosure materials policies and goals for ensuring management diversity. As of December, 67% of the companies listed on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange and 46% of those listed on the second section had complied with this requirement.
Update on the Netherlands
As of Wednesday 26 January, a number of corona measures were relaxed again. Prime Minister Rutte and Minister Kuipers announced this at the second press conference of the Rutte IV cabinet. The measures apply in any case until 8 March.
The basic corona measures (1.5m distance, face masks, maximum of 4 guests at home etc.) remain unchanged for the time being. An overview of the changes:
Hospitality and culture
The catering and cultural sector are open again, subject to conditions, from 5:00 until 22:00. In addition to shops, education, sports clubs, the practice of art and culture and contact professions such as hairdressers, the catering industry, cinemas, theatres, museums, concert halls, zoos and amusement parks will also open their doors from tomorrow.
3G will apply again for access to a restaurant or theater: you must be able to show a vaccination or recovery certificate, or a negative test. Anyone who walks around must wear a mask. For cinemas, theaters and catering, if you sit, the mask can be removed.
At transfer locations, such as a museum, a maximum of 1 visitor per 5 square meters applies to a maximum of 1250 people per room. At locations with a fixed seat, a maximum number of visitors of approximately one third of the capacity applies.
Sports and events
The public is again welcome at sports competitions, both for indoor and outdoor sports. There is, however, a maximum number of visitors: inside this is a maximum of 1250 visitors. For outdoor competitions, this is one third of the capacity.
Events are also possible again under conditions. The same maximums apply: within a maximum of 1250 visitors, outside a third of the capacity. Events without a fixed seat, such as festivals, are not allowed for the time being.
Education and quarantine
The rules are relaxed for schools and students. Children and young people up to the age of 18 no longer need to be quarantined after contact with an infected person if they have no complaints themselves. They should only stay at home if they have complaints and have themselves tested immediately. This also applies to secondary school pupils who are 18 years of age or older.
Until now, an entire school class had to be quarantined if three children were infected. That rule expires tomorrow. Only children who have complaints or who have been tested positive stay at home.
The local GGD can always provide additional advice to a school, for example in the event of a major outbreak of the virus.
The quarantine rules for adults apply to educational staff. They do not need to be quarantined if they have tested positive in the past 8 weeks and have no complaints, or have had a booster vaccination more than 1 week ago and have no complaints.
Other rules remain in force: students from group 6 must take a self-test twice a week and wear mouth caps in the hallways of the school.
Storm Corrie caused at least 10 million euros in damage on Monday 31 January. But it is an initial calculation, say the insurers; the real amount of damage will only become clear later and can therefore be a lot higher.
Damage was especially caused in the coastal areas. Roof tiles were blown from houses and trees fell on cars. But the damage amount was still limited, says the Dutch Association of Insurers, because people who live near the sea are well prepared for storms.
A standard calculation method was used to calculate the damage. Specific damage, such as to the cargo ship Julietta D off the coast of IJmuiden, has not been included in the calculation.
The insurers also take damage from wind gusts into account today. “Experience shows that this can lead to consequential damage. Roof tiles that were vibrated yesterday by gusts of wind and torn branches can still blow off today,” says director Richard Weurding of the association.
Most private home insurance policies cover storm damage, but people usually have a deductible.
The largest sea lock in the world was officially opened in IJmuiden by King Willem Alexander on Wednesday 26 January: ‘A piece of Dutch glory’
With one mouse click, King Willem-Alexander opened the lock, which is the largest in the world with a length of 500 meters. “To all traffic in IJmuiden, the door of Zeesluis IJmuiden is open,” said the king through the microphone.
After that, some ships present sounded their horn. After the opening of the sea lock, the king spoke with a number of people involved in the construction industry, residents and the port business community. There was no audience at the opening.
The sea lock, at the mouth of the North Sea Canal at IJmuiden, is 500 meters long, 70 meters wide and 18 meters deep. The new, larger sea lock replaces the Noordersluis from 1929 and thanks to the new lock, the increasingly larger seagoing vessels will soon still be able to sail to the port of Amsterdam.
The construction of the lock, which started in 2016, took years. It should have been finished in 2019, but due to a construction error it took 27 months longer than expected. Construction of the lock also turned out to be more expensive.
Elisabeth Post of Transport Logistiek Nederland explains to NH Nieuws that “a lot of water had to pass through the North Sea Canal” to get everyone in the same direction over the lock. “The government wanted to replace the Noordersluis one-on-one, but that lock was a hundred years old. And then completely different ships sailed.”
The new lock is tide-independent, Post emphasizes. This means that even the largest container ships no longer have to wait for high water to use the lock. She regrets that the public cannot be present at the opening. “Especially for people from the region, who have experienced nuisance due to, for example, the closed lock route.”
Someone who followed the opening of the sea lock from a distance is very proud, and said: “A piece of Dutch glory.”
The municipality of Velsen, together with Rijkswaterstaat, had launched a competition to come up with a name for the largest sea lock in the world. Thousands of entries came in. In the end, local residents and the municipality opted for the name Zeesluis IJmuiden.
The Dutch government must do much more to prevent sexual harassment within companies and organisations. Too little is being done about it at the moment, the Institute for Human Rights writes in a letter to five ministries.
It is important that you and your departments coordinate this topic for discussion, work on prevention, ensure that victims are properly taken care of and that reports are carefully investigated.
The Netherlands Institute for Human Rights believes that every company must have a confidential adviser. According to the college, a new law against sexual abuse must also be speeded up. That law, which stipulates, among other things, that it is also a criminal offense to have sex without violence with someone who does not want to, will probably come into effect in 2024. The college wants this to be tackled “promptly”.
The Netherlands must also approve an International Labor Organization treaty to ban violence and intimidation at work, the human rights college writes. The Netherlands voted in favor of the treaty in 2019, but has not yet ratified it. According to the college, approval leads to “better legal protection for employees in general and female employees in particular”.
The letter from the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights was also sent to State Secretary Uslu for Culture and Media. She is in talks with broadcasters following a broadcast by BOOS (BNNVARA) about abuses at the Dutch talent TV show: The Voice of Holland. Several candidates say that for years there had been sexually transgressive behavior in the TV program, which is currently further investigated.
Update on Dujat & Members
Thanks to the relaxations of the corona measures, we are allowed to organize small offline events again, and are pleased to invite you for an interactive afternoon with Omnicom PR Group, on Monday 14 February at their office in Amstelveen.
The discussion topic will be all about reputation management, where experts at Omnicom PR Group will talk about the results of the Authenticity Gap survey, about what Dutch consumers really judge companies on nowadays, and they will share tips on how to improve your company’s reputation.
blog to provide legal advice and tips on this matter, and also have a sample letter available to send to your employees, which could benefit the employer in the unfortunate event of any legal issues arising in relation to undesirable behaviour. For more information, please check out their website or contact Renske van Herpen (+31 (0)6 15 42 99 23), Renske.vanHerpen@lenaadvocaten.nl.In light of the public outcry at the reports of improper behaviour regarding the television programme ‘The Voice’ and the effect on companies and workplaces, Dujat member L&A Advocaten has written a
After the success of their first XBRL 101 webinar, our member Global Connect Admin BV is pleased to invite fellow DUJAT members to their next series of webinars in February and March 2022. This time they will not only introduce you to XBRL, but will also elaborate on IFRS 16.
All webinars will be from 13:00 to 13:30 CET. Registrations will open on 2 February, so click here to stay tuned! All online events are free.
Webinar schedule:9 February: XBRL 101: How to effectively start your XBRL journey 16 February: Get started with IFRS 16 23 February: Amelkis XBRL demonstration 2 March: Get starting with IFRS 16
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)
蘭日貿易連盟 | www.dujat.nl
Stroombaan 10 | 1181 VX Amstelveen | The Netherlands
Sources: Nu.nl, NOS, JapanToday, NHK, Nikkei