Weekly Update: News on Japan & the Netherlands – Week 1, 2021

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Update on Japan

  • Japan’s health authorities are reporting a record number of new coronavirus cases. More than 4,800 infections have been confirmed across Japan on Tuesday 5 January. The increase comes as the central government considers declaring another state of emergency for Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures… Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba. The area now accounts for half of the country’s daily infections.Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he will make a decision Thursday on a plan to declare another state of emergency in Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures. The government plans to keep the declaration in place for about one month, officials said, adding it is expected to take effect on Thursday or the following day.

    “What the people want from the government and the ruling party is a sense of security and hope. We will put the coronavirus response first and work hard at it,” said Suga at an executive meeting of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Tuesday.

    He said in his New Year press conference on Monday that he would consider declaring a state of emergency covering the four prefectures as they account for about half of Japan’s 3,000 or so daily cases that are putting a strain on the medical system.

    Tokyo Governor Koike Yuriko said, “A state of emergency declaration will lead to stepped up measures. I hope they will be more effective.” The four governors will ask people to refrain from non-essential outings after 8 p.m. They will also request that bars and restaurants close by that time.

    But a state of emergency is less rigid in Japan than in many western countries. It has so far relied on voluntary closures, rather than strict lockdowns. Suga says he will submit a legal revision to the Diet that would allow penalties for those who do not comply.

    With the number of seriously ill patients surging, governors around the capital are warning the health care system could collapse. Frontline medical workers say they hope the state of emergency will encourage people to be more alert.

  • Since Monday 28 December last week, Japan suspended new entries into the country by non-resident foreign nationals arriving from most of the world through late January as it seeks to prevent the spread of the new, potentially more transmissible coronavirus variant.The government will also require Japanese citizens and foreign residents coming from countries and territories where the new variant is confirmed to submit negative virus test results within 72 hours of departure and undergo tests upon arrival from Wednesday through the end of January.

    The new virus strain, first detected in Britain, has since been confirmed in more than 20 countries as well as in Hong Kong. Business people and students from 10 Asian nations such as mainland China and South Korea plus Taiwan, with which Japan has a special scheme to ease travel restrictions, are not affected by the latest measure. Earlier, Japan already banned new entries by nonresident foreign nationals who have recently been to Britain and South Africa, where another new variant has been detected.

    Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told reporters that the government implemented the new arrival restrictions to “protect our citizen’s lives and livelihoods, by taking measures in advance” to forestall the spread of the new virus strain.

    He also said that response to the new variant was the same as to the original COVID-19 virus and called for people to wash hands, put masks on, and to hold New Year’s celebration “quietly.”

    In an effort to prevent the pandemic from further straining hospitals’ ability to treat COVID-19 patients during the New Year holidays, when there are usually fewer medical personnel on duty, the government also expanded Monday its suspension of its Go To Travel tourism promotion campaign across the country through 11 January.

    The scheme, subsidizing up to half of people’s travel expenses, had already been halted for trips to Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, Hiroshima and Sapporo, which have seen a notable increase in infections. It was originally launched in July to help the country’s tourism industry hit hard by the pandemic.

    The nationwide halt of the campaign is estimated to cause a loss of 318.7 billion yen (€2.52 billion) in potential spending through 3 January, with the nation observing a 73% drop in the number of travelers from last year due to the pandemic, according to JTB Tourism Research and Consulting Co.

    Adventure Inc., the operator of travel reservation website Skyticket, said about 4,000 of the roughly 6,000 reservations made for the suspended period have been canceled since 14 December. The government will cover 50% of the losses sustained by travel agencies and hotel operators.

  • Japanese municipalities are preparing to administer coronavirus vaccines. A city near Tokyo has set up a team to coordinate the process. Ebina city in Kanagawa Prefecture appointed the team members on Monday, the first business day of 2021. The team was chosen on the same day as the Japanese prime minister announced a target of late February for the start of vaccination.Ebina Mayor Uchino Masaru called on the group to promptly gather information on the vaccines’ arrival as well as inoculation methods, to create a citywide system. The 14 members span the city’s departments, including the health and welfare division, and the mayor’s office. They will send out “inoculation vouchers”, choose locations and dates, and work out allocations of medical staff.

    Group leader Komatsu Yukiya says his team will provide accurate information on the vaccines’ efficacy and risks. He says they hope to make the vaccines available to people who wish to be inoculated and will strive to protect people’s lives and health.

  • Japan’s male-only succession rule should take precedence in discussions on how to achieve a stable imperial succession, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said in a radio program aired Sunday.”Under current circumstances, male-only succession should be given priority,” Suga said in a prerecorded radioshow broadcast by Nippon Broadcasting System, referring to the long tradition of male succession. The program was recorded on 18 December.

    Suga’s administration has said it would hold discussions on how to secure a stable imperial succession following calls from the Diet to address the issue.

    The move comes amid concerns that the imperial household could run out of heirs. Currently, only three males are in line to succeed 60-year-old Emperor Naruhito — his younger brother Crown Prince Fumihito, 55, the crown prince’s son Hisahito, 14, and the emperor’s uncle Prince Hitachi, 85.

    The emperor and Empress Masako have a 19-year-old daughter, Princess Aiko. But the 1947 Imperial House Law states that only males in the paternal line can ascend the Chrysanthemum Throne.

    In a Kyodo News poll conducted last year, the public has shown support for women to ascend the throne.

  • Hundreds of Japanese cities that registered to host overseas athletes for training camps ahead of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics remain under a cloud of uncertainty about the impact the novel coronavirus pandemic will have on their plans.The northeastern city of Aizuwakamatsu, Fukushima Prefecture, has been preparing to welcome Thailand’s national boxing team and help its members get into top shape for about two weeks before they are to compete in the Summer Games, set to open in July after a one-year postponement.

    As the team’s “host town,” officials and the boxing community in the city have also considered the Tokyo Olympics a chance to promote international exchanges with Thailand and grow the sport locally. However, they are now scrambling to come up with effective measures to protect the health of athletes, despite not knowing what to expect next summer.

    “First of all, will the athletes actually come to our city?” asked Yoshikatsu Suzuki, an Aizuwakamatsu official in charge of the program. “How should we prepare our medical system? The virus is our biggest concern, especially what we should do if an athlete contracts it.

    The Olympics and Paralympics, however, were postponed in March due to the pandemic, just two days before Japan’s leg of the games’ torch relay was scheduled to start in Fukushima Prefecture.

    Now, the Japanese government is urging host towns to implement strict anti-virus measures to protect the health of athletes. While cultural exchanges have been a pillar of the initiative, it has said they should not come into close contact with local residents, recommending interactions take place online or after the games close.

    Each host town is required by the central government to compile COVID-19 countermeasure guidelines that must be followed by local authorities and overseas visitors, including how to provide transport for athletes and take anti-virus steps at training facilities.

    With the Tokyo Olympics set to open in less than seven months, the Japanese capital and other areas of the country are facing many challenges. In addition to seeing record numbers of infections, a big headache for Tokyo officials is that they have been struggling to build momentum for the Olympics amid public concern over safety and ballooning costs.

  • Japan is developing a system aimed at keeping track of travelers from overseas as part of efforts to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus within its borders, a senior government official said Sunday.”There will be no point if we don’t implement it, so you will not be allowed to enter the country unless you use it,” Takuya Hirai, digital transformation minister, said on television.

    Hirai said the government wants to complete the development of the monitoring system by the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, due to be held next summer. Without providing in-depth detail, he said it will function by using global positioning system technology.

    His comments on Fuji TV’s “The Prime” news program came a day after Japan said it will ban non-resident foreign citizens from entering the country, which has been seeing record daily numbers of coronavirus cases in recent weeks.

    The measure, which will take effect from Monday through January, was announced following Japan’s detection of a new and seemingly more contagious variant of the virus.

    Among other measures to tighten its borders, Japan will require its nationals and foreign residents to quarantine for two weeks, show proof of a negative coronavirus test result within 72 hours of departure for the country and undergo another test upon arrival.

Map of the cities where the first 25 coronavirus vaccination locations will be situated. 29 Dec. 2020 GGD GHOR

Update on the Netherlands

  • The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) reported 6,671 corona infections on Monday 4 January. That is considerably less than the average of the seven previous days (8,357).The average number of positive tests is slowly decreasing. It is unknown what causes this. Monday’s number of positive tests was smaller than Sunday’s. On that day, 7,438 new cases were reported. In the past seven days, 57,600 people tested positive, compared to more than 69,500 the week before.

    The RIVM reported 65 corona-related deaths on Monday. Not all of these individuals have died in the past 24 hours. Sometimes these types of notifications arrive with a delay. On Sunday, the number of reported deaths was 47.

  • After intense pressure on Health Minister Hugo de Jonge, the Netherlands has decided to start vaccinating people against COVID-19 on Wednesday, ahead of schedule. The first people to be vaccinated will be healthcare workers at hospitals, and nursing home workers who were offered the opportunity to get vaccinated at the Hart voor Brabant vaccination facility in Veghel.According to the Ministry of Health, an estimated 30,000 healthcare workers will be able to get their inoculations at a hospital. “The worrying situation in acute care is partly prompted by the sick leave of care workers, often coronavirus-related,” the ministry said in a statement. First priority will be given to those working in coronavirus wards, intensive care units and emergency rooms, as well as ambulance crews.

    “Given the nationwide scarcity of vaccines, not all employees in the ICU, ER, COVID wards, or ambulance and helicopter services can be vaccinated in the first round,” the national network of acute care providers LNAZ said in a statement. “For the time being, this concerns healthcare staff who provide direct patient care and whose absence due to illness has direct consequences for the admission capacity.”

    Those working in nursing homes and smaller care facilities will also be first to get the vaccine at the country’s 26 mass vaccination locations (full list). After the mentioned groups, it will also be the turn for those aged over 60, the other care staff and those aged below 60 who are medically vulnerable. Only then will the rest of the Netherlands follow.

    Children are not yet on the vaccination schedule. This is because there are no clinical data yet on the vaccine in children: they have not yet been tested. If research shows that the British mutation of the corona virus does give cause to do so, it will be looked at again.

    Municipal health service GGD announced that it had scheduled the first 10,000 appointments already within hours after a special phone number opened up on Monday. Callcenter workers scheduled one coronavirus vaccination appointment every two seconds during the first 6.5 hours the hotline was open.

  • Due to the outbreak of the British mutation of the corona virus at a primary school in Bergschenhoek (South Holland), the Outbreak Management Team (OMT) advised last Thursday to also have children under the age of twelve tested for complaints.At the moment, children up to and including six years of age in principle do not need to be tested for complaints related to the virus. Older children up to the age of twelve may currently be tested, but urgent advice only applies if they also have a fever or are short of breath.

    It is not yet the case that children under the age of twelve should have themselves tested for complaints. The OMT only provides advice. Ultimately, the cabinet decides whether to adopt the recommendations of the experts.

  • With a new year comes a number of law changes, new rules, and regulations to be implemented in the Netherlands. The Dutch government is enforcing dozens of these new laws as of 1 January, 2021. For 2021, the Dutch government categorized these laws into seven different sections. You can view the summary below and/or visit this page for more details.Work, Income and Pension

    An important basic income tax rate will fall slightly, minimum wage will rise slightly, and people with savings and investments will be able to claim a higher exemption from the income tax on Box 3 assets. All told there are about 15 different changes coming into effect next year, and nearly all of them will affect a person’s net earnings and tax payments in 2021.

    Businesses and Entrepreneurship

    Around 15 different rule changes will affect the wallets of most self-employed workers and business owners. Those taking advantage of the self-employed tax credit will see the value of that deduction fall by nearly 400 euros, but those paying corporate income tax will pay a lower base rate over more profit before the higher 25% rate applies.

    Justice, Security and Defense

    Once the new trade agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union takes affect, replacing the Brexit transition, Dutch citizens and residents could face a litany of new rules regarding trade and travel between the two countries. Aside from that, expensive roaming charges could be placed on Dutch mobile phone and data subscriptions when in the UK. New European rules on drone use will also begin in the Netherlands in January.

    Family

    Subsidies parents receive for childcare will rise for most families. Public broadcasters face two significant changes to their advertising capabilities, including what they can and cannot show to children. Alimony and child support payments are set to rise.

    Health, Care and Sport

    4 of the 6 rule changes in this category affect the provisions of care under the basic health insurance package. It includes expansive care for people recovering from COVID-19, more coverage for people with chronic illnesses and permanent disabilities, and extra physiotherapy for people with COPD. Those who recovered from cancer will also have better access to death and funeral insurance.

    Housing and Living Environment

    A half-dozen new rules will give many first-time home buyers an exemption to the 2% transfer tax on property, while an expansion to the NHG mortgage guarantee will make home purchases easier for others. Many home and office owners will also need to get an energy label to estimate how much energy their properties use.

    Traffic and Transportation

    A 12% increase on the tax airline passengers pay when flying from Dutch airports, a change in the tax scheme on car purchases, and a tax discount for those buying an electric car with solar panels are among the seven different changes coming into effect next year. Classic car fans with a love for cars made before 1971 will no longer have to get their vehicles inspected.

  • Besides the heavy and negative impact of the corona crisis on hospitals, there is also a seismic economic backlash in the Netherlands. The number of companies in acute financial problems has doubled since the second lockdown. 27% of businesses are affected, says Business Association ONL and Financial Organization MKB in an interview with BNR.A survey among entrepreneurs showed that the number of financially healthy companies decreased, while the number of weaker companies keeps increasing. About 60% of businesses are now financially unstable, says credit rating agency Graydon.

    These are not merely companies in the hospitality and event sectors, says Ronald Kleverlaan, chairman of financial organization MKB. “They are also small shopkeepers, for example,” he says. ’17% of entrepreneurs say they are in a very difficult situation, which means that they are really on the edge,” he adds.

    The situation is dire for many companies in the events sector, says Riemer Rijpkema, spokesperson for the umbrella organization Eventplatform and director of the trade association CLCVECTA. “The first quarter is already lost, and the second quarter will also be very difficult,” he says. Many entrepreneurs have to rely on their reserves “on the assumption that the tide would turn sooner.”

    The government should pay attention to these types of surveys, argues BNR-economist Han de Jong. “The ministers and Prime Minister always say that the support package must reflect the gravity of the corona measures.” But according to Han de Jong, the question is whether enough oxygen is being pumped into the lungs of these companies. This survey suggests that in some respects, that is not the case. “This is reason to take a closer look at the support measures, especially with regard to lending,” he argues.

  • Companies in the events sector want to hear from the cabinet as soon as possible whether they can get back to work in 2021. In a full-page advertisement in several newspapers, the organizers of festivals, concerts and sports competitions announced a large number of events for this year, hoping to receive visitors again.Many events were canceled last year due to the contact-limiting measures. The sector is taking action this time under the heading #happynewyear, after the ABBA number of the same name. “Almost everyone in our industry is eagerly ready to get back to work”, says Jolanda Jansen on behalf of the Alliance of Event Builders.

    “We are happy to make it a Happy New Year , but we need commitments and a guarantee fund according to the German model from the government to continue.” The alliance includes ID&T, Mojo, Lowlands, Zwarte Cross, KNVB and Eurovision Song Contest Rotterdam 2021.

    The industry wants to hear from the cabinet where it stands by 1 February at the latest. Jansen fears that otherwise there will not be enough time to properly organize the events.

    “We cannot afford to miss a second summer of events, because soon an even greater proportion of the 100,000 people will be on the street, and an industry that generates a turnover of 7.4 billion euros will be on its knees.”

    In Germany, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz called on the event industry a month ago to start planning events for the second half of 2021. If events are still canceled due to the coronavirus, the German state will act as guarantor. About 2.5 billion euros has been earmarked for this.

Update on Dujat & Members

  • Happy New Year of the Ox! We look forward to a better and brighter year with you, and to welcome you at our events again, online and hopefully offline as soon is possible.
    We are also very pleased to welcome two new members to our network: Schmidt Global Relocations and Rotterdam Partners. We hope to see all of you very soon!

  • If your company has any news to share in next week’s newsletter, let us know by sending an e-mail to vangastel@dujat.nl.

Kind regards,

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.nlNOSJapanTodayNHKJapanTimesGGD GHOR