Weekly Update: News on Japan & the Netherlands – Week 12, 2020

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Update on Japan

  • The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Japan stood at 899 on Wednesday 18 March, with 29 people who lost their lives as a result of the disease.
  • Japan has decided to ask all travelers from Europe and Southeast Asia, to self-quarantine for 14 days in response to a surge in coronavirus cases there.The decision was made after a panel advising the government on Tuesday recommended asking travelers from Europe and Southeast Asia, including Japanese nationals, to self-quarantine for 14 days regardless of whether they have symptoms such as high fever or coughing.In addition, the Japanese government is considering an entry ban on foreign travelers from Iceland, some parts of Italy, Spain and Switzerland.
  • In policy recommendations submitted to the health ministry on Tuesday 17 March, the panel warned that Japan is seeing a growing number of “imported” cases of the COVID-19 disease.”Border measures need to be further enhanced,” Takaji Wakita, the panel’s chair and head of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, said at a press conference.
  • The deputy head of Japan’s Olympic committee, Kozo Tashima, has tested positive for the coronavirus. The Japan Football Association (JFA) stated he had travelled to Britain, the Netherlands and the United States from late February to early March, and was confirmed as positive for the virus on Tuesday 17 March in the afternoon. “I had a small fever and after I’ve got checked it also looks like I have symptoms of pneumonia, but I’m doing fine” – Kozo Tashima
  • The positive test result of Mr. Tashima came after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stated that the G7 had agreed to support a “complete” Olympics.He has not answered questions about whether any of the leaders had brought up the possibility of postponement. Earlier on 14 March, he insisted that the games would proceed, but it is said that this week’s new statement of wanting to host a “complete” Tokyo 2020 could hint that the Olympics may be cancelled or delayed.
  • Meanwhile, domestic opinion polls show that most Japanese believe the games should be postponed. An Asahi newspaper poll published on Tuesday 17 March showed 63% of people across Japan said the games should be postponed, while 23% said they should be held as planned.A similar poll by Kyodo News published on Monday showed almost 70% of respondents did not think Tokyo will be able to host the gathering as planned.
  • Hospitals in Nagoya city in Japan’s industrial heartland have more coronavirus patients than they can treat, forcing transfers to nearby areas and offering a glimpse of the challenges the outbreak poses for a country with a huge elderly population.Japan has closed schools and cancelled public events, which experts say has helped prevent an explosive spread of the virus. But because testing hasn’t been widespread, some medical experts say the extent of infection is understated, and a surge could yet happen.A prefecture official has stated  that if the numbers rise further, they won’t be able to cope, and will either have to ask nearby prefectures to help, or tell those with lighter symptoms to stay at home.Japan has been hospitalizing all patients who test positive for the virus, even if symptoms are slight, in line with its law on infectious diseases. But now, in some areas, patients with lighter symptoms are being asked to isolate at home.
  • Shares in Japan’s Fujifilm Holdings Corp surged 15% on Wednesday after a Chinese official said an active ingredient of the company’s Avigan anti-flu drug appeared to help coronavirus patients recover.Avigan, also known as Favipiravir, is manufactured by a subsidiary of Fujifilm, which has a healthcare arm although it is better known for its cameras. The drug was approved for use in Japan in 2014.Favipiravir has been effective, with no obvious side-effects, in helping coronavirus patients recover, Zhang Xinmin, an official at China’s Science and Technology Ministry, told reporters at a news conference on Tuesday 17 March. But a Fujifilm spokesman said the company expects no direct earnings impact from potential sales growth of Favipiravir in China, at least for now, as its license for the key ingredient in the country already expired last year.

Update on the Netherlands

  • The total number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the Netherlands stood at 2,051 on Wednesday 18 March, health officials said, with 58 people who lost their lives as a result of the disease.
  • The Dutch Cabinet is expanding the scheme and will spend up to 20 billion euros in emergency financial assistance for businesses and freelancers that have run into trouble due to the coronavirus pandemic. The new measures were announced by finance minister Wopke Hoekstra, economic affairs minister Erik Wiebes, and employment minister Wouter Koolmees at a press conference in The Hague on Tuesday 17 March. Minister Wopke Hoekstra has stated that it is their aim to limit the economic effects and make sure that people keep their jobs and income, and that companies stay intact.What was once supposed to be a ‘support package’ was now introduced as an ’emergency package’.
  • An initial 10-20 billion euros may be increased in coming months if needed, Hoekstra said, depending on how many firms apply for support.Companies and freelancers will also be able to delay their tax payments without having to pay fines, and there will be an emergency payout of up to EUR 4,000 for companies which suffer the biggest losses, such as the hospitality industry, travel and cultural sectors.For more information about the measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus in the Netherlands, please refer to the news page of the government and RIVM – National Institute for Public Health and the Environment.
  • On the evening of Tuesday 17 March, Dutch citizens applauded for the health-workers to show their support. Many videos and compilations can be found on the internet of the heartwarming gesture.
  • On Wednesday 18 March it was announced that this year’s Eurovision Song Contest will be cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.The contest was supposed to take place in Rotterdam in May 2020. Last year, it was announced that the Dutch government would grant 12.4 million euros to NPO for this event, besides the 9.6 million funded by European Broadcasting Union (EBU), 2.5 million by NPO and 2 million by AVROTROS, resulting in a total sum of 26.5 million euros.Further details about the cancellations and what will happen to the already released songs is yet unknown.
  • As a result of the Corona pandemic, after schools, restaurants, cinemas and museums, several stores have now also announced to shut their doors. As of Wednesday 18 March, the Dutch department store ‘De Bijenkorf’ has announced to close their stores immediately. The stores will remain closed until further notice.On Tuesday 17 March, IKEA also announced to close their Dutch branches until at least 6 April.
  • From Thursday 19 March, a new research will be started to investigate the effect of coronavirus on children, as was stated by the Outbreak management Team of the Dutch health ministry. The research should finish on 5 April. Until now it was assumed that the effects on children were very minimal, because children do not catch the virus as easily and the consequences are less severe.
  • The central end tests (Centrale Eindtoets Basisonderwijs) for Dutch primary school students in their final year have also been cancelled.Usually, all primary schools are obliged to participate in the test, which is held in April each year, to measure what the students have learned over the previous eight years. Their end result, combined with the judgement of the teacher regarding their general devlopment, will determine the future path of the students’ education.Because of the corona crisis, education minister Slob asked primary schools to cooperate with secondary schools to make sure to get the right advice for each student, without the central end test. Afterwards, in the new school year the secondary schools will re-evaluate to see if the students are at the right place.

We at Dujat will do our best to help you stay up to date about the recent developments in Japan and the Netherlands.

Of course, if you have any specific question or need any information, please let us know. Stay safe and healthy!

Kind regards,

Jinn van Gastel
Project Manager at Dujat

DUJAT (Dutch and Japanese Trade Federation)

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Sources: ADTelegraaf NikkeiNHKJapanTodayWorldometers