Biweekly Update: News on Japan & the Netherlands – Week 51 & 52, 2021
This newsletter was shared with Dujat members on 4-1-2022. The next newsletter was sent out today.
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Update on Japan
Prime Minister Kishida Fumio says Japan needs to prepare for a worst-case pandemic scenario. In his new year’s address, the leader discussed how to stop a new coronavirus surge.
Kishida said, “I will make this year a year where we boldly take on any challenge and open up a new era. On the other hand, I will keep in mind the need for humility and handle situations delicately.” He specifically laid out plans for protecting the health system.
That includes the use of new oral treatments. Kishida vowed to review requirements for hospitalization.He says the government is exploring ways to allow people to recuperate at home.
Reporters asked how the government will address the effect of strict anti-virus measures on the economy. Kishida said the Omicron threat is the government’s top priority. He said easing restrictions and resuming a travel subsidy program would require careful consideration.
Kishida also announced that he will postpone any upcoming foreign trips scheduled before the opening of the ordinary diet session on the 17th of this month.
Tuesday 4 January marked the first business day of 2022 in Japan. Officials in Fukushima Prefecture’s Futaba Town are planning to welcome residents back later this year.
The town’s residents have not returned since an accident at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant forced them to evacuate. Part of the plant is located in the town. The accident occurred in March 2011. Futaba is the only municipality that evacuees have not returned to. The town had a population of about 7,000 before the disaster.
After years of decontamination efforts, the residents are expected to be allowed to return to some areas, starting in June.
Futaba Town officials held a ceremony on Tuesday to mark the first day of the year. The event took place at a town office in Iwaki City. Iwaki is located about 60 kilometers south of the center of Futaba Town.
Futaba Town Mayor Izawa Shiro told about 40 officials that this is going to be a very busy year, as the residents are expected to return. Izawa said he will be on the frontlines of the town’s reconstruction efforts. He also asked the officials to join him.
Starting 20 January, residents will be permitted to stay overnight in the town, in order to start preparing for their return. The evacuation order is expected to be lifted in June.
A plan is under way in Japan to launch the world’s first “wooden” satellite in 2023, as its development team aims to harness the environmental friendliness and low cost of wood in space development.
A satellite whose exterior is made of wood will burn up upon re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere after the end of its operation, giving less burden on the environment, according to the team comprised of Kyoto University and Sumitomo Forestry Co.
In addition, it will be cheaper to make than using aluminum, the current mainstream material for a satellite. Because electromagnetic waves can penetrate wood, the satellite can contain an antenna inside.
The planned satellite will be a cube with 10-centimeter sides. Its outside will be covered in wood and solar cells, and it will hold an electronic substrate inside.
The state-run university in western Japan and the Tokyo-based wood products company are set to test the durability of wood in space, possibly from February, using an extravehicular experimental apparatus of the International Space Station.
The team, led by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Takao Doi, plans to attach on the apparatus wooden sheets with varying hardness, taken from several tree species. The sheets will remain exposed to outer space for about nine months to check their deterioration.
Doi, a program-specific professor at Kyoto University, said if the plan succeeds, it will lead the way to “allowing even children who are interested in space to make a satellite.”
Doi became the first Japanese astronaut to take part in extravehicular activities when he boarded the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1997.
Many Japanese companies are missing out on opportunities to employ highly qualified foreign nationals with valuable skills because of their insistence that recruits have advanced Japanese language skills, reported Nikkei Asia on 3 January.
According to a survey of data from two job placement services in Japan, more than 70% of specialist positions open to foreigners require full fluency in Japanese, while fewer than 40% of job seekers have that qualification.
The government is trying to lure more foreign researchers, engineers and other highly qualified foreign workers to Japan. But the effort is undercut by companies demanding that foreign employees be fluent in Japanese.
In the U.S. and Europe, foreign specialists are usually hired for their high-level skills. A global shortage of experts in areas such as information technology is putting pressure on Japanese companies to rethink their recruitment policies to attract more foreign talent.
Nikkei analyzed data on job offers and seekers provided by Human Global Talent and Globalpower, two Tokyo-based companies that operate job placement websites aimed at foreigners.
Of the roughly 18,000 job offers for foreign specialists listed on their websites in late November, 75% demanded Japanese language skills corresponding at least to the highest N1 level on the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, which is conducted by The Japan Foundation and Japanese Educational Exchanges and Services on behalf of Japan’s education ministry.
The test has five levels of proficiency, from N1 to N5. Those who pass the N1 test are defined as having “the ability to understand Japanese in a variety of circumstances.” But only 37% of the 9,000 or so job seekers registered with the websites have an N1 qualification.
Globalpower President Koichi Takeuchi says many Japanese companies fail to hire excellent foreign specialists because they place too much importance on candidates’ Japanese proficiency.
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry predicts Japan will face a shortage of up to 790,000 IT professionals by 2030. Yuji Kobayashi, a senior researcher at Persol Research Institute, says it is critical for Japanese companies that need IT experts to recruit qualified foreign nationals. But only 36.9% of foreign students in Japan took jobs in the country, well below the government’s target of 50%, according to a 2019 survey by the Japan Student Services Organization.
Update on the Netherlands
People with birth year up until 2003 can now schedule an appointment with the GGDMunicipal health service for a corona booster vaccination. This is only possible online, via www.coronavaccinatie-afspraak.nl. The booster shot can be obtained from 3 months after the last vaccination or from 3 months after recovery from corona.
The GGDMunicipal health servicecalls for scheduling appointments online to avoid overloading the call center. If you need help making an online appointment, you can also use an explanation video or step-by-step manual. These can be found on the website of the national government.People can also ask for help from the library. People over sixty can also call for an appointment (telephone number 0800-7070). They no longer have to wait for the letter.
People who are unable to come to a GGD injection site by themselves or with the help of others due to their health, do not have to do anything yet. They will receive an extra message for a booster vaccination at home.
The booster shot is administered with an mRNA vaccine (Moderna or Pfizer). It doesn’t matter which vaccine someone has had before. It is not possible to choose.
Primary and secondary schools can open again immediately after the end of the Christmas holidays on Monday 10 January. After-school care can also open its doors again. The outgoing cabinet announced this on Monday 3 January. In a new advice, the Outbreak Management Team (OMT) is positive about ending the school closure.
Although primary and secondary schools are allowed to reopen after the Christmas holidays, some corona measures remain in force. For example, every student and teacher from Group Six is urgently advised to self-test twice a week and wear a face mask in the hallway. It is mandatory for adults to wear a mask at primary schools. Schools should also provide walking routes.
The schools closed a week before the usual Christmas holidays in December because the cabinet was concerned about the more contagious omikron variant of the corona virus. The OMT had advised this three times at the time.
At the last corona press conference (18 December), outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte was unable to guarantee that schools will be allowed to open again on 10 January.
Online education will remain in force for the time being for MBO students and higher education. “That applies at least until the weighing moment on 14 January,” said outgoing Minister of Education Arie Slob. In the age group of students, the number of infections is currently increasing too quickly.
The cabinet wants to wait and see to what extent the advance of the omikron variant will translate into an increase in the number of hospital admissions. “We will only really know how much room there will be on 14 January to implement further relaxation,” said outgoing Minister of Health Hugo de Jonge. “Guarantees cannot be given”, Slob adds.
The ministers still want to keep the number of contact moments in society as small as possible. “It all depends on how the virus develops.”
The outgoing cabinet wants the vaccination certificate in the Netherlands to have an expiration date from 1 February. A booster shot will then be necessary for many people to obtain a corona pass. The Ministry of Health confirms this to NU.nl after statements by outgoing minister Hugo de Jonge at a press moment.
About the pass:
- With a corona pass (QR-code), Dutch people can gain access to, for example, the catering industry or a museum.
- Almost all locations where the corona pass is required are currently closed.
- You can get it by means of a valid vaccination certificate, a recovery certificate or a test certificate.
Within the EU, vaccination certificates for travel will be valid for nine months from 1 February. The cabinet wants to adjust domestic policy accordingly. The House of Representatives will be informed ‘in the short term’, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health told NU.nl.
In December, the government already announced that a validity period for vaccination certificates is considered necessary, because the effectiveness of vaccines is slowly decreasing. However, an implementation date has not yet been announced. “Because something like this is not easily arranged,” a spokesperson for the minister previously told NU.nl.
It is not yet certain how long the vaccination certificate will remain valid, but the Netherlands will probably follow European regulations. For the sake of clarity: the validity period only includes the so-called ‘primary’ vaccinations. There is not yet a validity period for a vaccination certificate after a booster shot. This is because experts do not yet know how long a booster shot will provide sufficient protection against COVID-19.
The requirements are currently:
- You have a vaccination certificate. Your last jab was taken at least 14 days ago (or 28 if it concerns a Janssen jab)
- You have a recovery certificate. You have tested positive for the coronavirus in the past year and have been declared cured.
- You have a test certificate. You have tested negative for the coronavirus in the past 24 hours.
In addition to introducing a period of validity for vaccination, the government is also considering shortening the period of validity of the recovery certificate. At the moment, the proof of recovery in the Netherlands is valid for one year and the cabinet is looking at whether that can be reduced to 180 days. More information about this will follow in mid-January.
Last year KLM was the safest airline in the world after Emirates. That is according to experts from the Jet Airliner Crash Data Evaluation Center (JACDEC). In Europe, the Dutch company is even number one, according to the annual survey by the German agency.
Emirates received a score of 95.05% from the researchers, who conduct their annual survey for the aviation magazine Aero International . KLM received a score of 93.31%.
The American airlines JetBlue and Delta Air Lines follow in third and fourth place. Easyjet completes the top five. Because there was considerably less flying due to the corona pandemic, crashes and incidents from the past counted more heavily than usual.
For the first time, JACDEC also made continental lists, because airlines with a strong home market such as China or the United States otherwise had a major advantage in terms of kilometers flown. In Europe, KLM was therefore at the top, ahead of Finnair and Air Europa.
KLM subsidiary Transavia came in fourth place. Some well-known airlines such as Austrian Airlines and Eurowings did not make the list, because they did not make enough passenger kilometers in the past year.
The Dutch supermarket chain Jumbo has announced a partnership with flash delivery company Gorillas. Jumbo supplies a large part of its range to Gorillas, including the private label and La Place products. In addition, online Jumbo customers who live in cities will soon have the option of having their purchases delivered by Gorillas within ten minutes.
The German Gorillas has been active on the Dutch market since last year and now delivers groceries in eleven cities. Customers in those areas can order the Jumbo products using the Gorillas app, and have them delivered to their home by bicycle courier in as little as ten minutes.
Abroad, the company has previously entered into strategic agreements with supermarket chains, such as Tesco in England and Casino Group in France. Jumbo is the first Dutch supermarket to join the relatively new phenomenon of flash delivery.
The collaboration will start this quarter and will be scaled up quickly, according to both parties. The deal is not limited to the Netherlands, Jumbo and Gorillas are also seeking rapprochement in Flanders. The two companies also want to bundle their marketing activities in the field of lightning-fast delivery and see opportunities for joint locations. The parties will not disclose financial details of the partnership.
It is unlikely that residents outside the major cities will be able to take advantage of flash delivery, as the promise of delivering groceries to customers within ten minutes can only be fulfilled in areas where many people live in close proximity to each other. Gorillas has several mini-warehouses (so-called dark stores) in cities that supply the bicycle couriers.
In addition to Gorillas, three other players are active in flash delivery in the Netherlands: the German Flink, the British Zapp and the Turkish Getir. The rapid rise of these companies is also a source of criticism: residents in cities such as Amsterdam and Rotterdam complain about the many dark stores in residential areas and unsafe traffic situations caused by some bicycle couriers.
That does not stop Jumbo from embracing the new phenomenon. According to Jumbo boss Frits van Eerd, a company like Gorillas keeps things sharp. “We notice that online customers in the major cities need flash delivery. The wishes of the customer are central to us and that is why we keep pace with changes in the market. The partnership will allow us to expand the options available to our customers.”
Update on Dujat & Members
As announced before, the first Dujat events are scheduled to take place on 24 January, which are the Real Estate Seminar and New Year’s Reception at Loyens & Loeff office in Amsterdam. However with the current situation and the possibility of extended corona measures there is a chance that we have to turn the seminar into a webinar, and postpone our new year’s celebration.
One positive note is that we plan to organize a large networking event on 24 March at Hotel Okura Amsterdam, which will include the postponed Deshima Award Ceremony.
Of course we also have various events planned before that, and hope it will be possible to organize them. We will keep you closely updated!
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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