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Update on Japan
As of today, Tuesday 11 October, Japan lifted most of its COVID-19 border controls. The country has resumed visa-free entry for individual travelers and has waived its entry cap of 50,000 per day, after about two and a half years.
Travelers from most countries are exempt from quarantine and on-arrival COVID tests, although they still have to submit either a vaccine certificate or a negative COVID test result within 72 hours of departure.
Japan has had a variety of entry restrictions in place since February 2020, when it banned the entry of foreign nationals who had traveled to China’s Hubei Province.
The number of international travelers between January and August this year stood at around 820,000, down 96% from the same period in 2019, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization. The travel industry has high hopes. In 2019, foreign travelers to Japan spent around 4.8 trillion yen ($33 billion), a record high for the seventh consecutive year.
Some areas are already seeing a rebound in inbound business. Taiwan-based online travel startup KKday said the number of reservations for activities available in Japan between Sept. 1 and 30 increased by up to 20 times compared to the previous month. “For now, tourists tend to book activities in major cities such as Tokyo and Osaka,” a representative told Nikkei Asia.
But some businesses are still in wait-and-see mode. A representative for sightseeing bus operator Hato Bus told Nikkei Asia that the company is considering when to restart foreign-language tours, available in English and Chinese, which have been suspended since April 2020.
Some Japanese companies are developing high-tech products that can help people reduce their salt consumption.
One product alters the chemistry of food. This bowl and spoon generate a very low level of electricity that manipulates food’s sodium ions, making it taste saltier than it actually is. It was developed by Kirin Holdings and Meiji University. Researchers are testing the product, hoping to launch it next year.
Food maker Ajinomoto has developed a line of soup-stock powders. They contain up to 60% less salt than conventional products. Yet their special formulation gives the stock a full salty flavor.
The product is marketed to households. But Ajinomoto is also trying to sell it to hospitals and care facilities, where many patients and residents need to curb their salt intake.
Other companies are making similar efforts in response to growing demand for healthier foods.
The average sodium intake for people in Japan exceeds the government’s target level. Excessive consumption can cause high blood pressure, a major cause of heart disease and stroke.
Japanese electronics giant Sony has developed a device to measure an individual’s sense of smell. The company hopes it will eventually be used at hospitals as olfactory measurement could help with the early detection of dementia.
Sony says the equipment can produce 40 different smells. It instantly emits a scent when the operator selects one from a dedicated app. Test subjects also use the app to indicate what they think the smell is. Olfactory measurement is usually done by letting the subject sniff paper soaked with a liquid that gives off an odor.
However, that requires a special environment to prevent smell leaks affecting the test. The new device is securely sealed and equipped with deodorizing functions so no special room is needed.
The need for olfactory measurement is also increasing amid the coronavirus pandemic. There have been cases in which people suffer problems with their sense of smell after having Covid.
Fujita Shuji, who leads the promotion of olfactory businesses at Sony, says he wants to make smells easier to handle by mechanizing their measurement and reducing the burden on examiners. He thinks that as the new equipment makes olfactory measurement easier, it could be used more widely, including for health checkups.
Japanese sports gear maker Asics has developed sneakers whose carbon footprint is less than half that of those formerly considered the low-emissions record holder.
The new sneakers emit 1.95 kilograms of carbon dioxide during their lifetime, from production to use to disposal, because plant-based materials are used for the insoles and cushioning. Having a lower environmental burden is becoming a factor for winning against the competition in the apparel industry.
Asics attributes its success in reducing carbon emissions to joint research with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that began in 2010. The previous world’s most eco-friendly sneakers emit 4.3 kg of greenhouse gases, according to Asics, and the most eco-friendly running shoes emit 2.9 kg. The carbon footprint of the company’s new product is over 30% lower than even that.
President Hirota Yasuhito said, “a healthy environment of the Earth is needed for wholesome body and spirit.” The maker plans to launch the Gel-Lyte 3 cm 1.95 shoes in 2023 with a price tag of “around $150.”
The shoes’ main features are the shock-absorbing midsole and insole, for which Asics has achieved carbon negativity — removing more carbon from the environment than they emit.
The shock-absorbing parts are made with bio-based polymers that Japanese chemical maker Kuraray has developed from sugar cane and other plants. The amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by the plants is, according to Asics, larger than the amount emitted during the sneakers’ production process.
The sneakers use yarn colored by the solution dye technique, which uses less water. Some of the fabrics are made with recycled polyester.
Asics discloses emissions of carbon dioxide at the stages of production, transportation, use and disposal. Nearly 70% of emissions come from the production stage, including the procurement of materials. The amount for the new shoes is said to be down 80% from the average for the company’s other products.
Asics has set a goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. Hirota said the new sneakers are “just the beginning,” and the know-how that went into developing them “will be adopted to all other items.”
Japan’s space agency JAXA and Mitsubishi Electric have developed a new Earth observation satellite, Daichi-3. The developers say the satellite can detect objects as small as 80 centimeters on the Earth’s surface. They expect Daichi-3 to become one of the key tools for creating maps for disaster management.
The satellite is 5 meters high, 16.5 meters wide, and weighs about 3 tons. The onboard sensor has a resolution three times higher than the first Daichi, which was retired in 2011.
Daichi-3 is also capable of sending up to 1.8 gigabytes of data per second, double the previous speed.
JAXA plans to launch the satellite on Japan’s next-generation H3 rocket by March 2023. A Mitsubishi Electric official says he hopes the satellite will be useful for preventing and mitigating disasters.
Update on the Netherlands
The Netherlands is again experiencing a corona wave. The cabinet’s new control plan is being tested for the first time. Now different is that potential measures have already been known for months. But exactly when they will be deployed is uncertain.
This time, the potential measures do not come entirely from experts. Sectors such as the hospitality industry, education and nursing homes have submitted their own plans. Hygiene measures and good ventilation are central to this.
The cabinet asked the sectors for a plan, “because through their experiences they know what works and what doesn’t”. That is what Minister Ernst Kuipers (Public Health) said in June. This method also ensures that sectors are familiar with all measures. If the government takes action, it will no longer come as a surprise.
The measures taken by the sectors have been tested by independent experts. They have provided additional measures where necessary. An overview per sector can be found here.
Whether a measure is used depends on the corona situation. For example, the potential actions are recorded in a ‘ladder’. This ladder is subdivided into four ‘risk levels’. In the first phase there are hardly any worries, while in phase four all alarm bells are going off. The Netherlands is currently still in the lowest phase.
It is not clear which criteria determine whether a higher (or lower) risk level should be present. A spokesperson for Minister Kuipers explains in conversation with NU.nl which steps are taken.
- Experts from RIVM meet every two weeks. They assess the situation on the basis of data and advise the cabinet.
- The government accepts the advice and can decide on that basis which measures from the ‘ladder’ are necessary.
- Choices are presented to the Outbreak Management Team (OMT) and Social Impact Team (MIT). They give definitive advice on what measures to take.
- After that, the cabinet makes a decision and the House is informed
Sectors have been happy with the state of affairs so far, according to NU.nl. For example, the KNVB football association, the AWVN employers’ association, the INretail industry association and the healthcare organization ActiZ all praise the sector plans.
“We are well prepared to take measures,” said a spokesman for the AWVN. “In many cases we can quickly switch to working from home. Physical measures, such as splash screens and the distribution of masks, have also been introduced quickly if necessary.”
INretail also emphasizes that the industry is ready to take measures if the infections increase. The catering industry and ActiZ are joining this. “The guideline offers sufficient guidance and direction”, according to the ActiZ spokesperson.
A spokesperson for the KNVB concludes with a small point of criticism. “It’s not the first time we’ve gotten into a corona wave, so it’s easier to deal with. But it’s still very difficult to predict what you can do next.” This means the four risk levels:
- Phase 1: The impact of the virus on society and care is low
- Phase 2: The impact of the virus on society and healthcare has increased. Vulnerable people are especially at risk
- Phase 3: The impact of the virus on society and care is high
- Phase 4: The impact of the virus on society and care is noticeable for everyone. There will be far-reaching contact-limiting measures
The Dutch cabinet is increasing aid to developing countries to solve the climate problem from 1.25 billion euros in 2021 to 1.8 billion euros in 2025. Half of this amount will be paid from government money and half from private money. for example companies. The extra money will be used, among other things, to protect tropical rainforests.
“The Netherlands and other rich countries have a special responsibility to help these countries too,” said Minister Rob Jetten (Climate and Energy). Poorer countries have contributed little to the climate problem, but are often the first to notice the consequences of drought and floods, the minister explains.
Liesje Schreinemacher (Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation) wants to encourage Dutch companies, universities and social organizations to make sustainable investments abroad. “They have knowledge and come up with excellent solutions,” says Schreinemacher. “For example, how to deal with extreme rainfall or drought.”
In the latest report from UN climate panel IPCC, researchers say that the global climate goals are not being met with the plans that countries now have to reduce CO2 emissions.
Damage caused by extreme weather such as storms and floods is costing insurers more and more money. In 2021, insurers paid out 465 million euros for damage caused by extreme weather. This is reported by the Dutch Association of Insurers on the basis of its Climate Damage Monitor. This concerns the damage to both households and companies.
This means that the amount for 2021 is in the top-3 of largest amounts since 2007. In recent years, the amount of weather damage has averaged 325 million euros.
There were also major floods in Limburg in 2021. This resulted in a private damage of 180 million euros with an additional 30 million euros in business damage. High damage amounts are becoming more common, according to the association due to the increase in extreme weather.
In 2016, the costs for extreme weather were the highest, almost 780 million euros. This was mainly due to a hailstorm that caused a lot of damage in North Brabant. Partly because of this, Noord-Brabant belongs to the provinces with the largest insured damage on average, together with the coastal provinces and Limburg.
The industry association already knows 2022 will be an expensive year. The amount of weather damage is already around 500 million euros due to the storms at the beginning of this year, so that is already higher than in 2021.
The trend of increasing amounts is worrying, according to Richard Weurding, general director of the Association. “Studies by the KNMI indicate that this type of damage will worsen by a few hundred million on an annual basis if we do nothing,” he said this morning in the NOS Radio 1 news.
The insurers are calling for the Netherlands to be more climate-proof. New buildings should be more resistant to the extreme weather. “It is important to sit down with the government to look at where we are going to build and where we are not going to build,” says Weurding. In addition to spatial planning, the way of building is also important for prevention, he says.
“Now we have low sockets and wooden floors. We need to think more about this. How do we, for example, install a gutter that can better cope with flooding?” said a spokesperson for the trade association. According to the association, many gains could be made by these adjustments for the government, insurers and the financial sector.
The largest battery in the Netherlands, intended for the storage of sustainable electricity, has been commissioned in Lelystad. The battery can store 30,000 megawatt hours of electricity annually, comparable to the consumption of 9,000 households.
According to Giga Storage, the company behind the mega battery, the storage system prevents congestion, or overloading of the power grid. In more and more places, the demand for electricity exceeds the supply, and vice versa. As a result, the network is bursting at the seams, which regularly leads to problems.
The idea is that the new battery, which is rented by energy company Eneco, will store excess solar and wind energy, for example. At times when the sun is not shining and the wind is not blowing hard enough, the stored electricity can be used on the electricity grid.
Giga Storage estimates that thousands of tons of CO2 could be saved, because at such times, coal and gas-fired power stations are normally used to meet the extra demand.
Two years ago, another battery of the company was put into use in Lelystad. Electricity can be stored in it for about 5000 households. Incidentally, this is only a small part of the number of households in the Netherlands. At the beginning of 2022, there were 8.1 million, according to CBS.
Earlier this week, grid operators sounded the alarm about the sharply increased demand for electricity, not only from households but also from companies. Some still have to wait years before they can be connected to the mains.
According to the grid operators, a lot still needs to be done to prevent the electricity grid from coming to a standstill. For example, companies in particular should spread their consumption better over the day and entrepreneurs and consumers could be stimulated through price incentives to charge electric cars at night, for example.
Max Verstappen has secured his second world title at the Japanese Grand Prix. The 25-year-old Dutchman of Red Bull Racing won his twelfth race of 2022 on the soaking wet Suzuka by staying ahead of teammate Sergio Pérez and Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc.
After the grand prix it was unclear whether the full number of World Cup points would be paid out. Almost everyone assumed, including Verstappen himself, that the title party would be postponed until the United States Grand Prix on 23 October.
The race at Suzuka was canceled after two laps due to bad weather and only resumed two hours later. The race continued in abbreviated form. The expectation was that the drivers could no longer earn the maximum number of points, a rule as we saw in 2021 at the aborted Grand Prix of Belgium.
However, the race management simply awarded the maximum number of points to the drivers, because the race was not cut short, but ended in abbreviated form. As a result, Verstappen took enough distance from Leclerc to secure his second world title.
Verstappen said: “I’m just very happy that we got to race at the end. It was raining quite heavily and it was just really tough for us to drive. But luckily, we got quite an amount of laps in and the car was flying in the inter conditions as well. I’m very pleased to win here, but also very happy to see all the fans and that they stuck around,” said race winner and world champion Verstappen.
“As for the title, what can I say? Incredible, of course! It’s very special also to do it here, in front of all the Honda people, all the Japanese fans.”
Update on Dujat & Members
We are pleased to welcome Kroes Advocaten Immigration Lawyers and SMBC EU AG Amsterdam branch as new members of Dujat. We look forward to introducing them to our network at our upcoming events!
After a record year for M&A in 2021, there is now more turbulence in the M&A markets. Successfully navigating the path to signing and completion of deals is still possible, but has become more complex. Allen & Overy LLP, Nomura and Dujat are delighted to organize this M&A seminar on Monday 31 October 2022.
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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Sources: Nu.nl, NOS, Rijksoverheid, NHK, Nikkei, JapanToday, JapanTimes