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Update on Japan
Japanese companies with a presence in Israel, including top trading houses, tried to gauge the impact on their staff and businesses Sunday after attacks from Gaza plunged the Middle Eastern nation into war.
So far, the have been no reports from major Japanese companies about staff causalities or damage to their facilities.
Mitsubishi Corp. has an office in Tel Aviv that oversees joint projects with local startups. The company said it had received no reports of staff being hurt.
Among other Japanese trading houses, Mitsui & Co. has halted employee business travel to Israel. Marubeni has evacuated its representatives and their families from the country. Sumitomo Corp. and Toyota Tsusho said their staff members were safe.
Trading houses are not the only Japanese companies with a presence in Israel, home to global players in semiconductors and other high-tech fields.
Canon has a software development subsidiary that it acquired in Israel, as well as a sales office, for a total of dozens of workers. A Canon spokesperson said its operations are not located near the fighting and have not sustained damage. Telecommunications group NTT has told employees of its local unit to work from home.
Rakuten Group has a hub in Israel for its Viber calling app. Employees have already evacuated to safety in accordance with the instructions of the authorities, Rakuten said.
According to Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 92 Japanese-owned companies had operations in Israel as of 2019.
The Japanese government is pushing for a shift to sea and rail freight as part of its strategy to address a truck driver shortage. One firm in central Japan has started loading its cargo on a specially designed type of ship as part of this transition.
Shizuoka Prefecture-based Suzuyo is using vessels designed to carry wheeled cargo. This allows for the shipments to be easily rolled off and attached to trucks at their destinations.
The company says the use of so-called RORO ships has reduced the amount of time their drivers work on a delivery to a single day, even for long-distance transport. It adds the ships have contributed to a 10% increase in its sea freight over the past year.
Japan’s government compiled emergency measures aimed at launching a shift in the country’s logistics network last week. It comes as restrictions on overtime in the trucking industry go into effect next April.
The government says it aims to double sea freight from 50 to 100 million tons, and rail freight from 18 to 36 million over the next decade.
Japan’s top court has dismissed an appeal by a group of people living in Europe who have challenged the country’s ban on its citizens from also holding foreign nationality.
The decision by the Supreme Court’s First Petty Bench, dated Thursday, will let stand lower court rulings that acknowledged the constitutionality of a legal requirement that Japanese who gain foreign nationality must give up their original citizenship.
The eight plaintiffs, who live abroad in countries including Switzerland and France, had argued that foreign nationality was necessary to facilitate their work and lives abroad. But they also had hoped to maintain their Japanese citizenship.
They argued that with more countries allowing multiple citizenship, the clause in Japan’s nationality law that strips people of Japanese nationality violates the Constitution, which guarantees the right to pursue happiness and equality under the law.
The article effectively banning dual citizenship says, “If a Japanese citizen acquires the nationality of a foreign country at their own choice, that Japanese citizen loses Japanese citizenship.”
The Tokyo District Court rejected the lawsuit in 2021, saying that permitting multiple citizenship “could cause conflict in the rights and obligations between countries, as well as between the individual and the state.”
The court cited tax payment and diplomatic protection in other countries to be affected under such a system.
The Tokyo High Court in February this year dismissed an appeal by the plaintiffs.
Japan will provide support for technology needed to power electrified aircraft, Nikkei has learned, in a bid to help the nation’s companies compete in an emerging segment of the aerospace industry.
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is planning a total of 30.6 billion yen (€193.7 million) in aid. Of this, 17.3 billion yen will go toward developing hydrogen fuel cell systems for aircraft, while 13.3 will go toward applications including fuel-saving engine control technology.
The ministry’s funding plan, to be presented at an upcoming meeting, comes as Airbus aims to bring the world’s first hydrogen-powered commercial aircraft to market by 2035.
Others are also working on planes that fly on clean-burning hydrogen in an effort to slash carbon dioxide emissions from aviation.
The ministry will this year start seeking participants for the aid program, including aerospace, battery and auto companies. It wants research to begin in fiscal 2024, with prototype trials to start by fiscal 2030.
Flight tests of fuel cell aircraft have already been conducted in the U.S. and Europe. Fuel cells use a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen to generate electricity. Powering an aircraft with fuel cells requires higher output than for autos.
The ministry sees a role for Japanese aerospace suppliers in a global supply chain for hydrogen-powered planes. Japanese suppliers provided about 35% of airframe components and about 15% of engine components for the Boeing 787. Japan also aims to be in the lead on setting international standards for aircraft fuel cell systems.
International Civil Aviation Organization member states have set an aspirational goal of net-zero carbon emissions from international flights by 2050. Domestic and international aviation’s CO2 emissions totaled roughly 700 million tonnes in 2021, International Energy Agency data shows, constituting about 2% of global CO2 emissions from energy production and industrial processes.
Japan’s aid for developing hydrogen-powered planes will come from the Green Innovation Fund, overseen by the ministry’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization.
Fujitsu has jointly developed a quantum computer, the technology group said Thursday, a first for a private Japanese company.
“This is a huge achievement,” said Shintaro Sato, head of Fujitsu’s quantum laboratory, at a news conference in Wako, Saitama prefecture, to mark the quantum computing platform being made available for use by outside companies and research institutions.
Fujitsu teamed with government-backed research institute Riken in 2021 to establish a collaboration center in Wako, where both sides developed the quantum computer.
This is the second Japanese-made quantum computer, with Riken debuting the first unit in March. Both quantum computers operate at 64 qubits and adopt superconducting circuits kept at super-cold temperatures.
Quantum computing is still in the development stage, and it remains impractical to use one independently for real-world computing. Fujitsu plans to integrate its quantum computer with supercomputer technology to raise the level of computing power.
Fujitsu will conduct research so that it can bring the quantum computer into practical use, such as by having it perform calculations for analysis of molecular configurations and material properties. It aims to eventually boost the efficiency of material and drug development by tapping the capabilities of quantum computers.
Fujitsu plans to partner with user companies to accumulate know-how on effective computing methods. Tokyo Electron, Fujifilm, Mitsubishi Chemical Group, and Mizuho-DL Financial Technology are the first collaborators.
“At the very least, we look forward to working with clients numbering in the double digits,” Sato said.
Tokyo Electron’s Tsuyoshi Moriya said he anticipates that the technology will be used to make breakthroughs in manufacturing semiconductors that are further integrated, as well as in developing materials.
“Quantum computers have the potential to perform highly accurate calculations that have not been possible with classical computers,” Moriya said.
The U.S. has led the race to develop quantum computers. In 2019, Google said its quantum computer was able to solve in 200 seconds a calculation that would have taken a supercomputer 10,000 years to answer. Last year, IBM developed a 433-qubit quantum computer.
Chinese companies are rising in the quantum computing space too. Tech giant Baidu last year unveiled a 36-qubit computer.
Quantum computing is on track to account for an economic impact of up to $1.3 trillion by 2035 in financial services, chemicals, life sciences and automotives, according to McKinsey & Co.
Japanese researchers face a long road in catching leading competitors in quantum computing. On Thursday, Riken said it has settled on naming Japan’s first quantum computer “A,” a homophone of a Japanese word meaning “wisdom.” Riken chose the name from thousands of entries sent by the public.
Update on the Netherlands
After sixty years, the gas tap in Groningen was really turned off in the morning of 1 October.
This marks the end of an era: the discovery of the Groningen gas field in 1959 heralded enormous economic prosperity, but in later years also meant increasing insecurity and damage for the residents of the extraction area.
Since last year, hardly any gas has been extracted from Groningen, but a number of gas wells had been left ‘on the pilot light’, so that they could be scaled up quickly in case of emergency. That is now over, although there will still be some challenges in the coming year.
If the coming winter turns out to be exceptionally severe, the cabinet may still decide to extract gas from Groningen. After next winter, that option will also be off the table: the production locations will be completely demolished.
Gas extraction in Groningen has generated hundreds of billions of euros for the state treasury over the past sixty years and made the Dutch welfare state possible. At the same time, it saddled the residents of the extraction area with significant damage and insecurity due to subsidence and numerous earthquakes.
Debora from Groningen is one of the many tens of thousands of affected Groningen residents. This spring she showed us how bad the damage caused by gas extraction is. That is why the previous cabinet decided in 2018 that the gas tap had to be gradually turned off.
It is now the first time in 60 years that no gas is being extracted at all from the Slochteren gas field, one of the largest gas fields in the world. Nevertheless, it is not the end yet for many affected Groningen residents in the extraction area, because there is still a chance that gas will still be extracted next year.
Closing the Groningen field does not immediately put an end to the earthquakes and therefore damage to buildings will continue to occur. The government will allocate billions of euros in the coming decades for damage repairs, strengthening buildings and better living conditions.
Energy consumption per Dutch person fell last year to the lowest level since 1970, says the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS). According to the statistics agency, this is mainly because people use less gas due to the war in Ukraine.
The war, which started in February last year, led to significantly higher energy prices, causing some people to turn off their heating or set it lower for fear of a high energy bill. This was not surprising either. Last summer, the gas price peaked at 345 euros per megawatt hour. Energy prices have now fallen considerably again.
The measured energy consumption per person was highest between 1995 and 2010. After this, energy consumption started to decline, because homes and cars became increasingly energy efficient.
More and more homes are switching away from gas and instead switching to more sustainable energy sources such as geothermal heat. People also use less energy due to the milder winters in recent years. Last year, energy consumption was 154 gigajoules per person. The year before this was still 173 gigajoules.
Furthermore, the Netherlands became more dependent on gas from abroad because gas extraction in Groningen was phased out.
In the meantime, the number of solar panels on Dutch roofs is growing rapidly. According to the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO), the increase last year was extra large due to the expensive gas due to the war in Ukraine. Households and small businesses looked for more sustainable and cheaper alternatives, generating more than 50% more solar energy than a year earlier.
Since 2019, the amount of electricity generated from the sun has more than tripled, compared to 2021 the total growth was just under 30%. The Netherlands has the largest amount of solar power generated per capita at European level. According to Statistics Netherlands, more than 2 million residential roofs have now been covered.
Dutch government websites such as DigiD or the National Government do not have a special domain name, while this is often the case in other countries.
In the Netherlands, the domain name often simply ends in .nl, but this makes it extra easy for cyber criminals to defraud people.
For example, tech lawyer Jan Gerrit Kroon told AD: “There is now a tangle of names. Dutch and English and combinations thereof, which make it very opaque.”
By not drawing a clear line, criminals can now easily use fake websites or spoofed email addresses to defraud people, which is also known as phishing and is a form of online fraud.
Experts warn in the AD that if a recognizable domain name is not created soon, such as .gov or .overheid, a tidal wave of online scams can be expected in the coming years, especially due to the advance of artificial intelligence.
This is worrying because, according to Interpolis, half of Dutch people are insufficiently protected against cybercrime.
The reason for this call is a study published today by Interpolis, which shows that half of Dutch children and their parents do not know what to do when they become victims of phishing or identity theft. And yet millions of Dutch people fall victim to cybercrime every year.
The Dutch Government started a campaign against online crime ‘Don’t let yourself be hacked’ – Online deception can happen to anyone
The campaign ‘Laat je niet interneppen’ (Don’t let yourself be hacked) is aimed at recognizing and preventing online crime. A common method of crime is misleading people online. By taking advantage of personal situations and pretending to be someone else, criminals manage to mislead people.
Due to the clever methods of online deception, anyone can fall for it, according to recent research.
“If a criminal were standing in front of you in real life, you might not fall for it so quickly. This is a lot more difficult online. More and more people are victims of online crime. Perpetrators are becoming smarter and sometimes it is difficult to distinguish a real message from a fake one. With this campaign we want to help people recognize online deception more quickly, so that they first check the sender and click away if in doubt,” said Minister of Justice and Security Dilan Yesilgöz-Zegerius.
About 2.2 million Dutch people were confronted with online crime last year, according to Statistics Netherlands. In addition to the financial damage they suffered as a result, they often also suffered emotional damage. This makes them feel less safe and have less confidence in others.
“Our research shows that Dutch people have a need to learn more about how they can recognize and prevent online scams,” says Mara Verheijen, one of the authors of the study ‘Digital Skills of the Dutch’, conducted by Centerdata on behalf of the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations. The new campaign ‘Don’t let yourself be hijacked’ contributes to this.
The multi-year campaign by the Ministry of Justice and Security and the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations calls on people to carefully check the sender of online messages and, if in doubt, click or swipe away. On Laatjenietinterneppen.nl, people can find more information about how to recognize this type of online deception and what they can do about it.
The Dutch online marketplace Bol.com is full of books written by artificial intelligence (AI). At the beginning of this year it became clear that Amazon was selling countless books by ‘authors’ who wanted to make money quickly, but the hype has now also spread to the Netherlands.
This mainly concerns travel guides, language guides and cookbooks, BNR reports based on its own research. Hundreds of books are offered that have been written together by artificial intelligence, the channel reports.
BNR bought random books on Bol.com and used the Originality.ai tool to investigate whether the texts were written by a human or by a program such as ChatGPT. According to BNR, after analyzing random paragraphs, it is clear that dozens of books were written with one 100% certainty by artificial intelligence (AI).
This mainly concerns English-language books with titles such as Bangkok Travel Guide, but Dutch books – for example Suikerdieet – have also been compiled by an AI tool.
Not only e-books but also paper versions are created by a chatbot. However, these books often have a strikingly cheap appearance with, for example, grainy photos on the cover and extra large letters to fill more pages. Prices vary from a few euros to two tens of euros. Makers tell BNR that the books are sometimes put together by ChatGPT in fifteen minutes.
Bol.com tells BNR that it has ‘no insight’ into the number of titles sold online that were created with the help of artificial intelligence. In a response, the company says that it is not taking any measures because this is ‘the beginning of a new social issue’.
The first books written by AI that BNR found date from October last year. Then ChatGPT was also introduced.
The Reuters news agency reported at the beginning of this year that the American online store Amazon was flooded with books that were ‘written’ or ‘drawn’ by AI. Famous American authors went to court last week: they want this type of writing to be restricted.
Update on Dujat & Members
The final exhibition of Nihon no hanga will be open to visitors in November.
“In part the exhibition will show the last project we planned with Elise Wessels before her sudden passing. This year marks the hundred-year remembrance of the Great Kantō Earthquake of 1923. The disaster was recorded in various ways, from photographs to woodblock print series, magazines to paintings. We will show a unique collection of images in commemoration of this major event.
This exhibition will also be an ode to the extraordinary collector and patron of the arts Elise Wessels. To celebrate and honour our beloved director, a selection of her favourite woodblock prints and objects will be on display.
In Memoriam | 100 Years After the Quake will be presented as a diptych, the final installation of Nihon no hanga.”
Visitors are welcome from Friday 3 November until Sunday 25 November (every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday: 13.00 – 17.00 hrs). Every open day there will be two guided tours (in Dutch, at 11.00 hrs and 12.00 hrs). For more information, please visit their website.
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Jinn van Gastel
Project Manager at Dujat
DUJAT (Dutch and Japanese Trade Federation)
蘭日貿易連盟 | www.dujat.nl
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