Weekly Update: News on Japan & the Netherlands – Week 13, 2020

This newsletter was shared with Dujat members on 25-3-2020. This week’s newsletter was sent out today.
For information about subscription and membership, please contact our office

Update on Japan

  • The total number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Japan stood at 1,193 in the afternoon of Wednesday 25 March, with a total of 43 people who lost their lives as a result of the disease.
  • On Tuesday 24 March, Japanese Prime Minister Abe and IOC President Bach officially confirmed the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics until summer of 2021. It is the first time ever that the quadrennial sporting event has been postponed.The leaders agreed that the Olympic Games in Tokyo could stand as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times and that the Olympic flame could become the light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present. Therefore, it was agreed that the Olympic flame will stay in Japan. It was also agreed that the Games will keep the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.
  • As of Monday 23 March, the Japanese government has categorized the Netherlands as Level 3. Level 3 is the second emergency alert from 1 to 4 (4 is in the case of war or terrorism). Level 3 means the Japanese government prohibits Japanese people from travelling out to this area. Consequently, Japanese airlines (JAL/ANA) are going to decrease or cancel most of the flights going to level 3 countries.Level 3 countries; Italy, Austria, the Netherlands, Swiss, Spain, Germany, France, Belgium, Luxemburg, some countries in North/Central EuropeLevel 2 countries; the UK, Ireland, Czech, Hungary, Poland etc.
  • The Japanese government is making additional efforts toward the drastic bolstering of border security measures against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). In response to this, Japanese airlines (JAL, ANA) announced their flights between Japan and Europe are going to be reduced after 29th March, to 3 flights a week between Tokyo and Frankfurt and 3 flights a week between Tokyo and London.The situation may be updated, so for more information please check the websites of the respective airlines. KLM is still operating as before, several flights have been suspended but Tokyo was not among them. For this we request to keep an eye on their website for the latest news as well.
  • Pharma firm Anges, Osaka Univ will begin testing coronavirus vaccine on animals as was stated by the Japanese biopharmaceutical firm on Tuesday 24 March. They said they completed development of a DNA vaccine against the new coronavirus with Osaka University and that they would begin testing it on animals soon.Anges, a drug-discovery company launched out of Osaka University, announced its collaboration with the school on a coronavirus vaccine earlier this month on 5 March. DNA vaccines are produced using an inactivated virus and can manufacture faster than protein based vaccines, according to the company statement. Takara Bio Co is in charge of production of the vaccine and Daicel Corp’s gene-transfer technology is also being utilized, the statement said.In Japan, market leader Takeda Pharmaceutical Co is working on a plasma-derived therapy, while the active ingredient in Fujifilm Holdings Corp’s Avigan anti-flu drug is being tested as a treatment in China.
  • Last weekend, warnings failed to stop Japanese crowds from viewing cherry blossoms. In Tokyo, people packed into traditional blossom hotspots, many not even wearing face masks, to admire the blossoms and celebrate ‘hanami’.
  • Governor Yuriko Koike warned on Monday 23 March that a lockdown of the city was possible if it saw an explosive rise in coronavirus cases, and called on event organizers and residents to exercise restraint to avoid such a drastic step. Warning that the virus could spread from young people to the elderly and others at risk of serious illness, she urged all residents to have a shared sense of crisis.On Wednesday 25 March the governor asked residents to avoid non-essential outings through until April 12. Koike told a news conference that the situation was”severe” after 41 new cases were reported in Tokyo on Wednesday alone. Ten of the cases were connected with a hospital in Taito Ward where a nurse and a patient were confirmed infected on Tuesday, NHK reported.Koike asked residents to cooperate to stem the spread by avoiding unnecessary outings, working at home as much as possible and staying away from restaurants and gatherings. “To avoid an overshoot in infections, the cooperation of Tokyo residents is critical. I ask you to act with a sense of crisis,” Koike said. The city has become the center of Japan’s coronavirus epidemic, with 212 cases, more than any other region after increases this week.
  • About 70 percent of Japanese parents are worried about the impact the nationwide school shutdown due to the coronavirus outbreak is having on their children, a survey by a Tokyo-based nonprofit organization showed recently.Respondents cited children’s mental stress from changes to their daily routine as well insufficient exercise as among their major worries, according to the online poll conducted by Florence, a government-approved child welfare aid group, which surveyed 8,339 parents from March 6 to 9.Prime Minister Abe called on all elementary, junior high and high schools across the country  last month, to temporarily close through early April.More than 50 percent of respondents also cited there is a lack of places for kids to stay or play during daytime. The poll quoted one respondent as saying, “I almost hit my kid in a fury after we became stressed out by the school closures,” while another said, “My child’s panic disorder got worse.”
  • Across Japan, hotels have seen a drastic fall in bookings as countries restrict travel to stem the spread of the virus and the Japanese government discourages people from unnecessary travel.A boom in hotel construction and overinvestment in the hospitality sector in recent years had already sparked concerns over the sustainability of the market, even before the spread of the coronavirus.As of Tuesday, shares in real estate investment trusts (REITs) focusing on hotel assets like Invincible Investment Corp, Ichigo Hotel Reit Investment Corp, and Japan Hotel Reit Investment Corp have shed some 60% this year, a deeper dive than a 31% drop in the broader REIT Index on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.The pandemic has been particularly devastating for Japanese cities like Osaka that have grown more dependent on tourists, particularly those from China, to support local employment and midsize businesses.Japan’s tourism agency said in 2017 that consumption by international and domestic travelers supported 4.7 million jobs in the country and accounted for 5% of the economy. A recent report by a Japanese corporate research firm said 12 hospitality companies, including a cruise operator, had already gone bankrupt since the outbreak of the virus, with many of these closures focused in western Japan.Industry groups have sought additional government aid to weather the downturn. Japan is considering stimulus measures of at least $137 billion to combat the economic fallout from the coronavirus, sources say, joining global efforts to cushion the blow from the pandemic.
  • Mitsubishi Corporation and Chubu Electric Power have completed the acquisition of the Dutch energy company Eneco. All 44 Dutch municipalities with shares, as well as the relevant authorities and supervisors have all approved the takeover.In addition to the municipalities – which hold all shares – the Dutch ministers of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy and the Belgian Federal Minister of Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development also had to give their approval. In addition, the acquisition has been reviewed and approved by the German and European competition authorities.Earlier this year, the municipality of Rotterdam, the largest shareholder, approved as well. The Japanese pay 4.1 billion euros for the company, which continues to exist as an independent part.

Update on the Netherlands

  • The total number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the Netherlands stood at 6,412 in the afternoon of Wednesday 25 March, with a total of 356 people who lost their lives as a result of the disease.Jaap van Dissel, Director of RIVM Centre for Infectious Disease Control has announded on this day that the spread of the virus is finally stabilizing. He said that the government’s measures are showing a positive result. His presentation can be found online (in Dutch).At the same time he highlighted this statement is based on an estimation, since the stabilizing of cases in the Netherlands could also relate to the possibility that not all hospitalized patients are tested. However he said the measures have lead to the positive change that one person no longer infects two others with the disease like before, which is good because the IC will be able to handle the number of patients.He warns that if people do not stick to the rules and go out in groups to the beach without keeping distance, this will be visible in the results.
  • On Monday 23 March, the Dutch government announced new measures to prevent further spread of the coronavirus, on top of the earlier announced measures. All gatherings are to be banned up to the 1st of June, but an exception will be made for funerals and church weddings. They strongly advise everyone to stay at home as much as possible. If anyone in the family feels ill, all in the family must stay home (with the exception of essential professions).It is also no longer allowed to go outside in groups of 3 or more. Mayors have the authority to close areas where people gather in larger groups, such as parks and beaches. People who do not follow these rules can be fined up to €400.Shops and public transport companies must take action to make sure people remain 1.5 metres apart, such as strict door policies and possible closure of certain stores. Services which involve direct contact with others, such as hair dressers and nail bars, are also closed until 6 April. Companies which do not comply can be fined up to €4.000.
  • On Tuesday 24 March it was announced that The Eindexamen or centraal examen (CE),  which takes place in a student’s final year of secondary education, will be cancelled this year due to the coronavirus. Secondary schools will have to determine the students’ end results based on the results of the regular school exams, which were taken earlier in the school year. Those who fail get a chance to go in appeal or resit.
  • It is likely that schools remain closed for a longer period, even after the deadline of 6 April, education minister Arie Slob told the television talk show Op1 on the night of Tuesday 24 March. The minister wants to wait for the results of the research project looking at the role of young children in the spread of the coronavirus before re-opening schools. The project was started by public health institute RIVM on Tuesday.The research has only started just now as of Tuesday, and it is possible it will take up to 6 weeks before there will be any results, meaning that RIVM does not expect any outcome yet before 6 April.
  • The Netherlands copes with shortage of lifesaving equipment. Due to the worldwide battle for supply of mechanical breathing machines called ventilators and severe shortage of the machines, it is not sure if the Netherlands can get enough of the equipment on time. In any case, Philips does not give priority to our country. “Next week is going to be very tense,” says Diederik Gommers, Chairman of the Dutch society of Intensive Care (NVIC).The competition is fierce. Philips has also expressed its concern. The Dutch technology group has a factory in the US, and said to be afraid that the American government will demand its ventilators over there. Both parties are still in discussion.A representative of Philips said, “The American government wants to be sure they get plenty of the equipment. We showed us our plans, and think there is still hope there will be a solution where a part of the production goes to America and another part to the rest of the world. We doubled our production to a thousand each week, and plan to double it again the coming eight weeks. After that, we will divide the machines according to where they are needed most.”

Update on Dujat

  • In order to keep organizing events and providing information, especially under these circumstances, Dujat will organize its first online events in the upcoming weeks, starting with a webinar series about the COVID-19 measures and challenges.This webinar will be organized in collaboration with members Jones Day and Loyens & Loeff, and will focus on both Dutch legal and tax challenges as well as cross-border measures and challenges, impact on Japanese companies with Dutch business operations, and impact on Gateway to Europe position of Japanese companies in the Netherlands.As of now, the plan is to host the webinar in two parts. More information will follow soon, and an official invitation to register for this online event.
  • Apart from the news updates we provide since last week, we have updated our website’s members area with a new page: news and information. Links to previous news publications will be available here, which will be published on our website a week after the newsletter’s release.Furthermore, many members approached us by sharing their helpful information and advices conerning the coronavirus but also various other matters related to this. We invite all of you to send us your documents (preferably in PDF) so we can share these with our network. These will also published on the earlier mentioned page ‘news and information’.We are also still frequently updating our other pages, for example the Position Wanted page and Seminar Materials. These pages are only for members, so if you did not save the login for the Members Area, please contact us.

These are strange and uncertain times for everyone, so let’s hope the newly announced measures will take effect soon.

For now, we look forward to welcoming you soon at our webinars, and potentially other future online events. If you need questions answered or are in need of our support, please feel free to contact us!

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: ADTelegraaf NikkeiNHKJapanTodayWorldometers