Biweekly Update: News on Japan & the Netherlands – Week 7 & 8, 2022
This newsletter was shared with Dujat members on 15-2-2022. The next newsletter was sent out today.
For information about subscription and membership, please contact our office.
Update on Japan
The Japanese government will study a system for accepting people escaping Ukraine due to the Russian invasion.
Justice Minister Furukawa Yoshihisa told a Lower House committee meeting on Tuesday that the government will swiftly study a system for receiving evacuees from Ukraine. Separately, the Foreign Ministry said it will discuss measures to help the evacuees with other ministries and agencies.
Officials will look at allowing entry for the evacuees beyond the limits on the number of foreigners currently in place due to the coronavirus.
They will also study measures for evacuees who have not been tested for the coronavirus at the time of their departure, as well as special steps to allow entry without visas.
Regarding the Ukraine conflict, Japan will join the international sanctions on Russia’s central bank by limiting transactions with it, Prime Minister Kishida Fumio said on Monday, after telling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that Japan would stand by their side.
Speaking to reporters after telephone talks with Zelenskiy, Kishida also said Japan would impose sanctions on Belarusian organisations and individuals including President Alexander Lukashenko, and limit exports there given the country’s “evident involvement in the invasion” of Ukraine.
Japan joins the West in seeking to restrict the Russian central bank’s ability to deploy $640 billion of forex and gold reserves, and cut Russia’s major banks off the SWIFT financial network, making it hard for lenders and companies to make and receive payments.
Earlier, Japan’s top currency diplomat, Kanda Masato, said the government was working closely with other G7 nations to ensure effective economic sanctions against Russia and its central bank.
Kishida said Japan, which has pledged $100 million in emergency humanitarian aid to Ukraine, would also allow Japan-based Ukrainians to extend their stay amid the conflict.
Japan eased COVID-19 border controls on Tuesday, setting its limit on new entrants at 5,000 per day, up from the previous 3,500, and reducing or exempting quarantine periods for both Japanese and foreign nationals.
Within the daily cap, which was relaxed for the first time in three months, foreign nationals will be able to enter Japan for purposes other than tourism.
But more than 400,000 people already eligible for visas have been unable to enter the country as of 4 January, according to the Immigration Services Agency of Japan, and calls for further easing of the controls remain strong among business and academic communities at home and abroad.
Japan’s entry ban on nonresident foreigners effective from late November to the end of February, initially aimed at keeping the Omicron variant of the coronavirus at bay, has sparked a chorus of criticism for being too strict and not based on epidemiological reasoning.
After arriving in Japan, travelers will now be asked to quarantine for three days and required to test negative for the virus on the last day of that period. Those who have been vaccinated three times and depart from countries where infections are stabilizing will not need to quarantine.
Of the roughly 407,600 people awaiting entry to Japan, about 152,900 are students, according to the agency. Since late November, only a fraction of nonresident foreigners wishing to enter Japan had been granted entry as exceptions. The relaxation came ahead of the start of the new school and business year in April.
While business leaders, academics and even ruling party lawmakers have argued Japan’s policy is still too tough and the disadvantages far outweigh the benefits, the government is considering raising the daily ceiling in stages to allow in up to tens of thousands of new entrants in the near future.
Japan’s 31 prefectures are under COVID-19 quasi-emergency measures. The restrictions are set to expire on Sunday, but Osaka’s governor has asked the central government for an extension.
Yoshimura Hirofumi said, “The case numbers are declining a little, but the hospital bed occupancy rate remains very severe.” The government plans to closely monitor changes in the number of infections and the medical care system.
It also plans to decide how to deal with the measures while listening to the opinions of local governments. Japanese officials expect to see progress in the rollout of booster shots. The government says 19.3% of the population has gotten a third dose.
Tokyo is currently subject to the quasi-emergency measures. More than 9,000 cases have been reported on Monday, up 800 from a week ago. The hospital bed occupancy rate is 53%. More than 51,000 infections were confirmed nationwide. The total number of cases in Japan has surpassed 5 million.
The number of personal information leaks from companies listed on Japanese stock exchanges, as well as their subsidiaries, rose by 30% in 2021 from the previous year to a record 137 cases, according to a corporate research agency.
Tokyo Shoko Research said in a report that over 50% or 68 of the data breaches were caused by malware or unauthorized access. It said the number of cyberattacks rose for the third straight year.
Since the agency first began collecting such data in 2012, leaks of personal information pertaining to approximately 120 million people, roughly the equivalent of Japan’s population, have been confirmed.
Compared with the United States and European countries, some critics have said that Japanese penalties are not tough enough for corporate executives in the event of data breaches, and that has led to a lack of risk awareness for them.
In 2021, there were 43 instances that were caused by data being accidentally displayed or sent out, according to the report released on 17 January.
The largest data breach of the year was discovered in May, when private information consisting of up to 1.71 million people from dating app Omiai, operated by Net Marketing Co, was found to have been leaked.
The case was followed by a dump of data on roughly 1 million customers of Japanese airline operator ANA Holdings Co, and about 920,000 from Japan Airlines, after information regarding their respective mileage program members was illegally accessed by a Swiss booking company, according to the report.
As Japan’s current law protecting personal information is not punitive, Net Marketing and other companies responsible for the leaks were not fined.
Victims of personal information leaks could take their cases to court, but the amount of compensation per person is believed to be just a few thousand yen if a lawsuit is won, with the cost of trials likely being much higher.
On the other hand, a number of companies in the United States and Europe have been slapped with large financial penalties by their respective authorities when personal data has been leaked.
U.S. consumer credit reporting firm Equifax Inc. agreed with the government in 2019 to pay up to $700 million for an incident in 2017 that found data on 140 million people had been compromised. A majority of the fine has been set aside for compensating the victims.
Although Japan’s information protection law remains lax, its revision, slated to take effect in April, is likely to change the situation.
“Companies will be obliged to notify victims in the event of a data leak,” said lawyer Hiroyasu Kageshima from Ushijima & Partners. “There is a possibility that demand for compensation will be magnified.”
The Japanese arm of Coca-Cola has introduced bottleless vending machines equipped to fill containers brought by customers, part of its parent company’s efforts to cut plastic waste.
The machines, installed at Universal Studios Japan on a trial basis, dispense two types of sparkling water as well as hot, cold and room temperature still water.
Coca-Cola’s latest sustainability initiative comes in a country where vending machines are ubiquitous and soft drink bottles account for 6% of plastic waste.
The water is priced at 60 yen (52 cents) for about 500 milliliters. The machines also provide reusable bottles, sold for 260 yen with the water, and feature a rinser for customers’ water bottles and tumblers.
The vending machines also have been installed at employee cafeterias of insulated bottle maker Tiger Corp. Coca-Cola (Japan) aims to have about 500 of the machines by 2025.
The vending machine dispenses sparkling water, as well as still water at three temperatures. (Photo courtesy of Coca-Cola (Japan)) More varieties of water could be on tap, but the company says it will not offer sweetened varieties in order to help keep the machines sanitary. Coca-Cola, one of the world’s biggest soft drink makers and a major source of plastic waste, aims to sell 25% of its products in reusable packaging globally by 2030. More companies are selling drinks with the option of customers bringing their own containers. Coffee chains Starbucks and Tully’s offer discounts.
Update on the Netherlands
The Dutch government is making twenty million euros available for aid to Ukrainian refugees. This was announced by Minister Liesje Schreinemacher of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation.
“The Netherlands will stand next to the Ukrainians in these dark times,” said Schreinemacher. “We help where we can.” The money is intended for food, water and medical care.
UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency, announced today that more than 200,000 people have been displaced since Russian troops invaded Ukraine. In particular, a flow has started towards Poland. At various border posts to Poland, the waiting time has already risen to forty hours.
In the meantime, a website has been opened in Ukraine where people can register who want to receive refugees from the country.
The NS (Dutch Railways) has announced they allow Ukrainian refugees to travel by train for free, the railway company informs NU.nl. Earlier, Thalys and Deutsche Bahn, among others, also reported that Ukrainians can travel for free. “Your passport is your train ticket”, is the message from the NS. “We hope to be able to make a small contribution to a better situation for Ukrainian refugees,” said Marjan Rintel, president of the NS.
A passport or identity card is sufficient for the mostly women and children who have fled Ukraine. The NS offer is effective immediately. “The NS colleagues will help to make your transit in Europe as easy as possible. We wish you a safe journey,” said Rintel.
Not only refugees, but also Ukrainians who want to travel within the Netherlands can get a free day ticket on presentation of an identity document and a foreign ticket (not older than 24 hours).
Dutch trade with Russia and Ukraine has pretty much come to a standstill due to the war currently going on in Ukraine. Due to sanctions from the western world, many goods can no longer be delivered and the war also makes it difficult to enter the countries, reports entrepreneurs’ association evofenedex.
The war affects all modes of transport: from road transport to aviation. Due to the closure of European airspace to Russian aircraft, it is no longer possible to deliver by plane from Russia. The Netherlands normally mainly obtains metal, iron and chemical products from Russia.
KLM and many other airlines also decided not to fly over Russia and Ukraine, so the export by plane to those countries has come to a complete standstill. Flights to destinations in South Korea, Japan and China were also canceled as they pass through Russian airspace, at least until Thursday. The airline has yet to figure out how to divert flights that normally go over Russia. It is possible that from now on those planes will fly to Asian destinations via the Middle East.
In road transport there is mainly a personnel problem. Many companies in Central and Eastern Europe work with Ukrainian drivers, but they are all conscripted by the Ukrainian army. As a result, they are temporarily unable to work. This also happens in border countries such as Poland. This is causing further problems for road transport, which was already struggling with major staff shortages.
There are the fewest problems in shipping, but many shipping companies are playing it safe and no longer accepting freight for ports in Russia or Ukraine. Shipping via the Bosphorus in Turkey to Russia is currently still possible, but in recent days there have been voices to close that route. Turkey has already banned the shipping of war materials across the Bosphorus.
In addition, since last week many Russian banks and companies have been banned from trading with the West anyway, making it very difficult to make payments. If the EU also kicks Russia out of the international payment system SWIFT later this week, it will be almost impossible to trade with the country.
Climate change and the increasing occurrence of extreme weather are having more serious consequences for people and nature than previously thought.
That is the conclusion of the UN Climate Panel IPCC, which today presents a report in which hundreds of scientists have contributed. The global effects are already far-reaching and partly irreversible. The time to take measures to avoid even more serious consequences is quickly running out.
The burning of fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced more quickly, according to the climate panel. Already millions of people are exposed to the risks of acute food insecurity, forest fires and flooding caused by extreme weather. Since the publication of the previous report in 2014 that dealt with the consequences of climate change, the impact has been estimated to be a lot more serious.
Especially if the earth warms by more than 1.5 degrees, those risks increase sharply, such as the faster melting of the ice in Antarctica and Greenland and the loss of animal and plant species, which puts further pressure on biodiversity.
The IPCC also points out that there are limits to the possibilities for humans and animals to adapt to the changing climate. This finding goes against the assumption that is sometimes heard that adaptation is better than rapid(er) emission reduction.
But the IPCC is now making short shrift of that. Adjustment, called adaptation, is important, but it cannot be done indefinitely, is one of the conclusions of the report. And so there is a great need to accelerate the reduction of CO2 emissions. At the same time, more efforts should be made on adaptation, because this can prevent a lot of suffering, says the IPCC.
The report examines all the options available in this area. For example in the field of infrastructure and the energy sector, and measures against flooding. Also, 30 to 50% of the earth’s surface should be protected nature, because this can limit negative consequences for biodiversity and people.
“The risks are coming at us harder,” says Maarten van Aalst of the University of Twente and director of the Red Cross climate center, who contributed to the report. “We see the consequences everywhere in the world, but we also see that the risks are increasing faster than previously thought. Compared to the previous report, all risks are actually worse if the temperature rise is less severe.”
The new report also points out that some effects interact and reinforce each other. For example, floods that take place after periods of drought, or extreme rainfall after a forest fire, which can cause landslides. Possible new risks are also mentioned that may arise as a side effect of climate policy. For example, the production of bioenergy (with biomass), which can pose a threat to biodiversity or food production.
“All these kinds of risks are still manageable,” says Maarten van Aalst, “but we have to work very quickly to prevent it from getting out of hand.”
As of 25 February, all corona rules in the Netherlands have mostly disappeared. For example, the mask obligation has largely been canceled and the corona admission ticket has largely been deleted. However, some restrictions and advice remain in force, such as the mouth caps in public transport and the advice to work from home. View all changes in the overview below.
The corona admission ticket is largely disappearing. You still need the corona pass with QR code for many (air) trips abroad.
The closing times in the catering and cultural sector are cancelled. The pub, the theater and the cinema can again determine themselves until what time they are open.
The distance rule disappears. It is no longer mandatory to keep 1.5 meters away from others.
The mask obligation expires almost everywhere. You only have to wear the face mask on the plane and public transport.
These corona rules still apply:
Basic rules such as staying home in case of complaints, washing your hands often, coughing in the elbow and ventilating areas well, remain in force. This also applies to tests and staying at home in case of corona symptoms.
1G will apply for large indoor events with many visitors. These are only accessible after a negative test result. It concerns indoor festivals and other indoor events with more than five hundred visitors.
The work from home advice remains in effect. The advice is now to work from home if possible. Those who nevertheless have to go to the workplace are asked to limit this to a maximum of half of the working time.
After a positive corona test, you are required to go into isolation for five days. You must then be free of complaints for at least 24 hours to be allowed to leave the house again.
You still need the corona pass for (air) travel. When traveling by air and staying abroad, you will often still have to show the QR code. When traveling a lot and in many countries, you are asked for a vaccination, recovery or test certificate.
Storm Eunice, which raged over the Netherlands on 18 and 19 February, is the third heaviest storm in the past fifty years. The KNMI announced this on Monday.
Since 1970, the KNMI has indicated the specificity and severity of a storm with a so-called storm number. This number gives an indication of the average strength of the wind gusts during a storm in the Netherlands.
Based on the storm number, storm Eunice is one of the top three heaviest storms since the KNMI has calculated storm numbers. Only the storms of 3 January, 1976 and January 25, 1990 were heavier than Eunice.
The heaviest gust of wind during Eunice was measured by weather station Cabauw, in the province of Utrecht. The wind gust of 145 kilometers per hour is the heaviest ever measured inland. Heavy wind gusts were also measured in the rest of the country and code red was issued in almost all provinces.
Because Dudley (Wednesday and Thursday) and Franklin (Sunday and Monday after Storm Eunice) were also officially designated as storms, a so-called triplets storm occurred for the first time in almost a hundred years. The joint damage amounts to at least 500 million euros, according to insurers.
Update on Dujat & Members
We are pleased to invite you to attend the reception at Hotel Okura Amsterdam on 24 March, which will also include the Deshima Awards Ceremony. For registration and more information, we refer to our event site.
To celebrate the cherry blossom, Dujat member Museum Volkenkunde organizes various events, including an interesting and educational lunch lecture (in Dutch) around hanami.
Special guest Noriko from Lit-Suzuki discusses various objects related to hanami with curator Daan Kok, such as special paintings, prints, and lacquer picnic sets. Noriko is a specialist in Japanese flower arranging, ikebana. So also the use of cherry blossom branches in ikebana is discussed.
A unique look into the collection, with live answers to questions from the Q&A.
- When: March 10, 2022 at 12.30 pm
- Price: Free
- Registration: Book a free ticket on their website.
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, Telegraaf, JapanToday, NHK, NikkeiNikkei