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Update on Japan
Japan will aim to have inbound tourism recover to pre-pandemic levels by 2025, the tourism agency said Monday 8 November, with travel demand expected to return in line with a recovery in global air traffic.
The plan outlining goals for 2025, presented by the Japan Tourism Agency at a meeting of experts, also seeks to have the number of overnight stays in regional areas by foreign visitors increase from the 2019 total of 43.09 million.
The Cabinet of Prime Minister Kishida Fumio is set to approve the plan, which gained a broad consensus at Monday’s meeting, at the end of March after considering specific measures.
In 2019, prior to the outbreak of the global coronavirus pandemic, a record 31.88 million tourists visited Japan. But the number fell sharply following the outbreak of COVID-19, totaling only 4.12 million in 2020 and 250,000 in 2021.
The agency expects travel demand to revive in line with forecasts by international organizations, which say that the number of international air passengers will recover to 2019 levels by 2025.
Upcoming international events to be held in Japan the same year, such as the Expo 2025 in Osaka and the World Athletics Championships in Tokyo, are also expected to boost visitor numbers.
The government will maintain its existing goal of an annual 60 million foreign visitors by 2030.
As part of its aim of revitalizing regional areas, the agency has also proposed promoting travel outside of metropolitan areas by highlighting historical and natural attractions offered by each region.
Supported by the recent weakness of the yen against other major currencies, the government aims for annual tourist spending to reach 5 trillion yen ($34 billion) as soon as possible, eclipsing about 4.8 trillion yen spent in 2019.
With the plan, the government will also consider measures to increase the amount spent per person and their length of stay in Japan, as well as how to address “tourism pollution” issues that accompanied the rapid increase of foreign visitors before the pandemic, such as congestion on public transportation and littering.
The bulk of Japan’s proposed 29 trillion yen (€198 billion) supplementary budget to cushion the blow of inflation will be paid for through new borrowing.
The spending plan, which the cabinet aims to approve Tuesday, includes the equivalent of tens of billions of dollars in subsidies to reduce energy costs for households and businesses, along with funding for child care and technology.
The 22.8 trillion yen, or €155 billion, in additional debt — mostly deficit-covering bonds — will add to one of the heaviest debt loads among major economies.
The new bond issues will bring the total for this fiscal year’s budgets to 62 trillion yen, including the first supplementary budget passed in May. That is the second-highest to date behind fiscal 2020, when the government borrowed over 100 trillion yen as the pandemic took hold.
Part of the remaining funding will come from an expected 3.1 trillion yen increase in tax revenue compared with the government’s initial estimate for fiscal 2022. Tokyo now sees total tax income breaking last fiscal year’s record to reach 68.3 trillion yen, though spending is rising even faster.
Another 2.2 trillion yen in unused funds from fiscal 2021 will also be put toward the stimulus package.
Japan’s debt to gross domestic product ratio came to 262.5% last year, the highest among major economies, International Monetary Fund estimates show. Government debt per capita topped 10 million yen for the first time at the end of June. Total government borrowing stood at 1,255 trillion yen.
Japan’s exports of food and farm goods are continuing to rise to record levels, supported by the weak yen and a recovery in the global restaurant industry.
Shipments of agricultural, forestry and fisheries products and foodstuffs in the January-to-September period reached almost one trillion yen, or nearly 7 billion dollars. That’s up almost 15% from the same period last year.
China was the biggest export destination. The country bought up about 1.3 billion dollars of Japanese food items. The US followed closely behind at one billion dollars.
By item, the export value of seafood, such as scallops and yellowtail, surged by more than 30%. Exports were also strong for alcoholic drinks like sake and whiskey. They rose 24%.
The government has set a target of boosting the annual export value to about 13 billion dollars by 2025.
To achieve this, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is supporting businesses that participate in overseas trade fairs or take steps to improve their manufacturing and processing facilities.
Ghibli Park, a themed entertainment facility that recreates scenes in anime made by Japan’s Studio Ghibli, opened on 1 November in Aichi prefecture.
The park lets visitors enjoy the world of Ghibli films in a relaxed atmosphere and without crowds, as tickets must be reserved in advance. Tickets have already sold out through the rest of the year and go for 2,000 yen ($13.4) on weekdays and 2,500 yen on weekends for adults. About 5,000 visitors are expected to visit the park on a daily basis.
Aichi prefecture has long been regarded as having few domestic tourist attractions, but the new park is expected to be a major draw. The prefectural government, which is developing the facility, estimates Ghibli Park will have a yearly economic impact of 48 billion yen ($323.6 million) after fiscal 2023 when it fully opens.
Ghibli also has a huge fanbase overseas and with Japan easing entry restrictions imposed due to COVID, the number of foreign visitors is likely to boost the park’s popularity.
Aichi Prefecture Gov. Hideaki Omura and Goro Miyazaki, the Ghibli film director who oversaw development of the park, were on hand to welcome the crowd of visitors when gates opened at 10 a.m.
The park is expected to host about 1 million visitors annually with the opening of the first three areas, and roughly 1.8 million after all five open.
Ghibli Park is publicly owned and privately operated, and was built by Aichi prefecture at a cost of 34 billion yen. It is located in the commemorative park that was the site of the 2005 World Expo. The entire complex is operated by a Tokyo-based company jointly owned by Chunichi Shimbun and Studio Ghibli.
Japanese convenience-store chains have been introducing energy-saving measures to do their part for decarbonization.
With around 14,000 stores nationwide, Lawson plans to upgrade its refrigerated displays.
This includes adding glass doors in front of shelves for sandwiches and salads to keep in the chill. Heaters that prevent dew condensation in beverage showcases will be shrunk in size.
A pilot store will first test the measures to determine their cost and power savings. Lawson then plans to adopt the upgrades for new and renovated stores from 2024.
A Lawson official said the first step is to cut carbon dioxide emissions. He added that a resulting reduction would lead to lower electricity bills and higher profits at franchisees’ stores.
Four-hundred outlets of Seven & I Holdings rely only on renewable energy. That number is up 10-fold from just over a year ago.
Nearly 40% of its convenience stores nationwide have solar panels. The company is planning to install more of the devices at those locations.
Both companies as well as FamilyMart have all set a goal of cutting their carbon-dioxide emissions by half from 2013 levels by fiscal 2030.
Many small and medium-sized firms in Japan have been trying to transition to carbon neutrality. But with energy costs soaring, some of the efforts to go green have been put on the back burner.
Makengineering in western Japan manufactures precision parts. The firm joined a government project that encourages firms to reduce their carbon footprint.
Executives had been preparing to install more solar panels for its factory to cut emissions. But the firm’s electric bill has been soaring since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The charge in September was 1.7 times higher than last year in yen terms. Amid the rising costs, the firm decided to put off the solar power expansion.
Makengineering Chairman Kotani Isao says that skyrocketing energy prices have been a major challenge. He notes that when something unpredictable happens such as a military invasion, bold investments for the long term become less attractive.
An expert on corporate measures to fight climate change says plans for carbon neutrality will be put off as the economy stalls. He says the recent delays in such projects could have a major impact on company efforts to fight climate change.
Update on the Netherlands
Inflation was slightly lower in October than in September, when it was 14.5%. This is mainly due to the fact that energy and fuel prices rose slightly less rapidly. Although energy still involved a very sharp price increase.
Food prices rose slightly more on an annual basis in October than in September. This was mainly because bread, grains and dairy rose faster in price. That also applies to clothing.
CBS also compared the prices of October with those of a month earlier. This shows that goods and services have become on average 1.1% more expensive. This is certainly not only due to rising energy prices. Because if those are not taken into account, prices were still 1% higher last month than in September.
Statistics Netherlands’ figures may give a somewhat distorted picture. When determining the prices for gas and electricity, the statistical office looks at the rates that suppliers apply when someone concludes a new contract.
But many households have a contract that will continue for a while and often lower rates have been agreed. As a result, it may be that many have not or hardly started paying for their energy in the past year. Statistics Netherlands is working on a new measurement method that should overcome this problem.
Last week, CBS already announced that inflation in the Netherlands was 16.8% according to the European calculation method.
That is therefore higher than the method of the Dutch statistical office. This is because the costs for the owner-occupied home are not included in the European method.
Higher addition for electric cars, promotion of cheaper models.From 1 January, there is little difference between the addition of an electric or a fuel car. Do you drive an electric car for business and do you also use it privately?
You will receive an addition of 16% on the first 30,000 euros of the fiscal value, for every euro more the regular 22% applies. With this, the government wants to stimulate the supply of cheaper electric cars.
“Electric driving makes an important contribution to achieving our climate goals,” says Leonie van den Beuken, chairman of the Electric Drivers’ Association. “We must continue to encourage this. It is unwise to continue the planned reduction of the addition benefit and the reduction of the tax value for the lower addition.”
“The prices of EVs fall too little for that. We therefore argue in favor of lowering the addition for an EV to 12% until 2025 and maintaining the tax value of 35,000 euros.”
Excise discount on fuels extended, phasing out from 1 July.The compensation discount on fuel excise duty will be maintained. After 30 June, this discount will be halved. Now that prices at the pump are falling again, the question is to what extent we feel that in our wallets.
“The temporary discount is no longer really necessary due to the decreased prices,” argues Paul van Selms of UnitedConsumers. “We are arguing for a structural reduction. This will bring more harmony with fuel prices elsewhere in Europe.”
“You can wonder whether the excise tax discount for expensive diesel should remain. This relieves business drivers and the transport sector. On the other hand, the consumer is also presented with the higher price for diesel, because it affects the prices for other products.”
Increase in tax-free mileage allowance.The tax-free mileage allowance for employees will increase to 21 cents. Since 2006 this is 19 cents.
“We have been arguing for years for an increase in the tax-free travel allowance and are moderately pleased that things have finally started to move,” says chairman Martin Huisman of Vereniging Zakelijke Rijder (VZR). “This is much too late and the amount is not sufficient.”
Inflation is on the rise, so living expenses are getting more and more expensive. In addition, a car costs more than 21 cents per kilometer at variable costs. According to the calculation of the VZR, the correct amount in 2022 is 39 cents, a reasonable amount for a tax-free kilometer allowance. Of that 39 cents, only 21 cents will be tax-free next year.
“An employer may of course give a higher mileage allowance and that is right. Unfortunately, we also know that for many employers the tax-free portion is also the norm to pay out to employees,” adds Huisman.
“So employees often put money on it when they come to work by car. That is sour. I also do not think that it stimulates the greening of the vehicle fleet. More new, preferably electric cars, would be needed for this. have to find the way.”
“However, the increase in the tax-free mileage allowance is so small that it has no effect on the purchasing behavior of a car. For example, for an average self-employed person, the purchase price of an EV is still very high. A small increase in the kilometer allowance does not bring any shocking change.”
The subsidy pot for the private purchase of an electric car has been filled again and with more money.To enthuse private individuals for an electric car, the government is again giving a purchase subsidy. A discount of 2,950 euros is available for almost 23,000 new electric cars.
For a used electric car that is 2,000 euros. The subsidy pot is sufficient for 16,200 cars. The subsidy can be applied for from 10 January on RVO.nl. In 2022, the subsidy pot was empty after six months. By increasing the subsidy budget and reducing the subsidy amount per new car, more private individuals can benefit from it.
“In the business market, the tax benefits and subsidy schemes certainly made sense in making the vehicle fleet greener,” says director André Renses of car company Renses E-mobility. “It is therefore also a missed opportunity that this is being phased out so quickly.”
“In the private market, I think the PR value of the subsidy scheme is more important than the actual amount. It stimulates people to consider an electric car. We can then tell our complete, logical story. Then they will automatically see that the benefits of an electric car outweigh the assumed disadvantages.”
NS operates fewer trains on a number of routes from Monday 7 November.
With the adjusted timetable, NS wants to ensure that trains ‘less often stop at the last minute’.
In particular, fewer trains will run during off-peak hours during the day and all day on Fridays. Fewer trains also run during rush hour. The result of the adjustments is that trains are extra busy and that passengers have to change trains more often.
The reason for the adjustments is of course the well-known staff shortage. Previously, the NS also made adjustments to reduce the number of trains being canceled.
Spokesperson Arno Leblanc says it’s not good news that fewer trains will now run. “But we don’t want trains to be canceled at the last minute, so we are bringing more air into the timetable in this way.”
A solution to the problem could be to use fewer conductors on longer trains. “It is a working agreement to do that now. We are discussing it with the trade unions and the works council.”
How long will these problems last? Leblanc: “If only I knew. The whole society has to deal with this. We are doing our best in recruiting people, but I don’t know when it will be solved.”
Affected routes can be checked on the website of NS.
Both candidates presented their plans in Mexico last Saturday. After that, the members of InterPride, the umbrella organization for pride organizers, could vote in recent days. Amsterdam received 59% of the vote, Orlando voted 37%.
Pride Amsterdam director Lucien Spee de Castillo Ruiz says he is extremely proud. According to him, the Netherlands will “again be the center of the world when it comes to attention for equal and acquired rights”.
“At the same time, our country can work in the coming years to show that we will once again belong to the top of forerunners and guide countries. Because we are now too low on many lists.”
It is the first time in history that the WorldPride will come to Amsterdam and the Netherlands. The occasion is the 25th anniversary of the opening up of civil marriage to same-sex couples. According to the Pride Amsterdam Foundation, this opening started a positive wave, which means that couples can now marry in 29 countries.
The theme for WorldPride Amsterdam is Unity. According to the foundation, this stands for “the bond that people form as a couple through marriage. But it also stands for the bond that we have to form within our LGBTIQ+ community.”
WorldPride Amsterdam takes place at the time when the ‘normal’ Amsterdam Pride would be held.
“It will have a good content program, for example with international conferences where science comes together with activists and business. This event is on the agenda of many people in the community. That means that can be planned far in advance, many people can come and you can organize a lot.”
The first WorldPride took place in 2000 in Rome and then in Jerusalem, London, Toronto, Madrid, New York and Copenhagen-Malmö. Sydney will take over the organization before 2023.
Update on Dujat & Members
We are pleased to welcome Asahimatsu Support B.V. and Sojitz Corporation of Europe BV as new members of Dujat. We look forward to introducing them to our network at our upcoming events!
On December 6 from 13:30 to 17:30 Asahimatsu Food from Japan will organize a symposium in the Omnia building in Wageningen where they will reveal the results of a scientific study executed by Wageningen Food & Biobased Research. Top management of Asahimatsu will be present at this symposium.
To read more about the event, please click here. In case you like to be considered for an invitation please respond by sending an e-mail to the eventmanager of Asahimatsu support -Kirsten Hek- at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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