Weekly Update: News on Japan & the Netherlands – Week 24, 2021

This newsletter was shared with Dujat members on 15-6-2021. This week’s newsletter was sent out today.
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Update on Japan

The Japanese government is considering lifting the COVID-19 state of emergency covering Tokyo and other areas after next week.

They will be keeping some restrictions in place in order to prevent a resurgence of infections leading up to the Summer Olympics, an official with knowledge of the plan said Friday.

The state of emergency will likely end on 20 June as scheduled in most of the 10 prefectures covered, though the government is considering placing Tokyo under a quasi-state of emergency during the Olympics, given that a number of health experts have expressed concern over a potential spike in COVID-19 cases, officials said on Monday 14 June.

The Olympics are due to begin on 23 July, but public fears persist about a surge of coronavirus infections triggered by an influx of people into the Japanese capital and driven by more contagious variants. In addition to Tokyo, nine prefectures including Hokkaido, Osaka and Fukuoka are currently under the emergency.

In areas under the quasi-emergency, the government plans to continue requiring eateries to shorten their opening hours but may lift a ban on serving alcohol, the official said on condition of anonymity. Among the eight prefectures currently under a quasi-state of emergency, Gunma, Ishikawa and Kumamoto will exit after this weekend. Most or all of the remaining five, Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa, Gifu and Mie, are set to see restrictions end as scheduled on 20 June.

Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide said Wednesday he aims to finish vaccinating Japan’s population against COVID-19 by November.

More than 40 million shots will be administered by the end of June ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, which will be held on a smaller scale and with measures to prevent infections, Suga said in his first one-on-one parliamentary debate with opposition leaders. “We hope to complete all citizens who want to be vaccinated from October through November this year,” said the prime minister, who took office last September.

Japan’s state-run mass coronavirus vaccination centers plan to start inoculating people aged under 65 as early as Thursday in an expanded drive to fill in vacant slots, a government source said Tuesday, and the vaccine rollout gets corporate kick-start as well as companies and airlines were permitted to organize COVID-19 vaccinations on site.

All Nippon Airways Co on Sunday began its COVID-19 inoculation program for employees at Tokyo’s Haneda airport, moving up the schedule set by the government by more than a week and becoming the first Japanese firm known to start offering workplace vaccinations.

Japan Airlines started on Monday. Japan’s transport minister Akaba Kazuyoshi visited the sites where two major Japanese airlines are vaccinating their employees against the coronavirus. At the Japan Airlines site that opened on Monday, four healthcare workers in separate booths gave shots to pilots, cabin crew and mechanics for international flights after checking the state of their health.

Japan’s Environment Minister Koizumi Shinjiro has called for a review of the country’s policy of supporting coal-fired power exports under limited conditions.

The call came after the leaders of the Group of Seven agreed to end international financing of coal power generation without emissions controls this year, in their summit that closed on Sunday. The G7 recognizes coal power generation as the biggest cause of greenhouse gas emissions.

Japan, however, last year laid out a policy of supporting exports of coal-power generation technology on condition that it is highly efficient and requested by importing countries.

Koizumi said on Tuesday that what have been allowed as exceptions would obviously not be allowed anymore, and that Japan must change its strategy in light of the G7 agreement.

He called for stepping up efforts to export infrastructure related to renewable energy and waste.

A total of 1,600 companies in Japan have gone bankrupt since February of last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Credit research firm Teikoku Data Bank says the businesses have either already declared bankruptcy, or have closed down to prepare for liquidation proceedings.

The dining industry has been the hardest-hit with 265 firms going under. That is followed by construction with 155, accommodation with 92 and food wholesale with 81.

By month, this past March saw the largest number of bankruptcies at 182, followed by April’s 172 and May’s 135.

The research firm says that bankruptcy numbers are expected to climb further, as declining sales continue mainly in the dining industry in prefectures where the coronavirus state of emergency is in effect.

The firm also says failures of bars and restaurants tend to cause contractors in the construction industry specializing in repairs and electrical work at such establishments to go under as well.

Japanese automaker Honda and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, are set to begin a study on a system to generate oxygen, energy and water in space.

The idea is to create an environment where people can live and work for extended periods. Honda and JAXA say in a statement the system would create items essential for humans and roving vehicles without resupply from Earth.

Oxygen and hydrogen would be produced by using solar energy to electrolyze water. The oxygen and hydrogen would then be used with fuel-cell technology to generate electricity. The water created from this process would be recycled.

JAXA Vice President Sasaki Hiroshi said in the statement that the agency aims for a system to allow “full-fledged lunar exploration.” He said it could “dramatically expand our activities in space.”

Honda and JAXA plan to create a prototype of the system by the end of the current fiscal year.

Update on the Netherlands

(Since our previous newsletter) People born in 1988 – 1996 are eligible to make an appointment for a corona vaccination (Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna). 

It is possible to make an appointment online via the website www.coronavaccinatie-afspraak.nl using DigiD, or by phone to 0800 7070. Make sure you have your passport when doing this, you will need your social security number (BSN).

Please note that if your letter has not arrived yet, you can still already try to make the appointment by phone call. We know from experience this can be done. For Japanese and other non-Dutch speaking members, if you have questions about this, feel free to contact us. It is also advisable to reach out to your HR department.

In a few weeks, ‘vaccination buses’ will drive into the neighborhoods on a national campaign day to vaccinate people against COVID-19. 

The aim of the campaign is to achieve the 85% vaccination rate desired by the outgoing cabinet. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health tells this in conversation with NU.nl.

At the moment, 84% of the Dutch population aged sixteen and older has had a corona vaccination or the intention to get it, according to behavioral research by the RIVM. The willingness to vaccinate is greatest among people over 60 (98%) and lowest in the 16 to 24 age group (71%).

The Ministry hopes that this will help prevent local outbreaks, which in the worst case scenario can lead to coronavirus mutations. Such mutations can potentially be dangerous for vaccinated people too, though the vaccines currently seem to work well against the known coronavirus variants.

Health service GGD will go into the neighborhoods by bus to provide local residents with information about the COVID-19 vaccines. People who want to get vaccinated, will be able to get a shot immediately without making an appointment.

Exactly what vaccine will be used on these buses is not yet clear. The Ministry is still consulting on this with the GGDs, safety regions, and municipalities. The Janssen vaccine seems the logical choice, because it only requires one shot, the Ministry spokesperson said to NU.nl.

The Janssen vaccine will also be available from 21 June for people who choose it. This was announced by outgoing minister Hugo de Jonge (Public Health) on Friday.

“We no longer offer the Janssen vaccine as standard in the vaccination campaign, but I do want to give people the freedom to choose the Janssen vaccine. Because it is safe and effective, and you are ready in one go.”

Last week, the outgoing cabinet adopted the Health Council ‘s advice not to give people who are now invited a Janssen vaccine. In view of the current situation in the country, the benefits of the Janssen vaccine do not outweigh its possible risks, the Health Council and the cabinet found.

However De Jonge stated that it is wise for people who have already received a first shot of a different vaccine to simply take the second shot of the same vaccine.

The cabinet wants to bring the next relaxations of the corona measures forward to 26 June. This has been confirmed by insiders after reporting by the NOS . The next step was originally scheduled for 30 June.

Catering establishments may then, for example, remain open longer and receive more guests. The number of guests would go from 50 to 100. The same would apply to cinemas and theaters. These are now allowed to receive a maximum of fifty people per room, much to the chagrin of the cultural sector.

The advice rules for home visits are also being further relaxed. The advice is to receive a maximum of eight visitors at home from 26 June.

The cabinet emphasizes that the basic rules, such as keeping a distance of 1.5 meters, will continue to exist. You must stay home if you have health problems. The face mask obligation is not yet abolished, although the outgoing cabinet does want to discuss about the duration of that obligation.

Initially, these relaxations were only planned for 21 July. But the number of infections and hospital admissions continues to fall sharply. Outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte and outgoing Minister of Health Hugo de Jonge will give a press conference on Friday.

From Tuesday 15 June, a quarantine obligation will apply for people traveling to the Netherlands from the United Kingdom, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Myanmar and Nepal. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced this on Friday. 

The WHO has renamed worrisome variants differently since 1 June:

  • The British variant is the alpha variant.
  • The South African variant is the beta variant.
  • The Brazilian variant is the gamma variant.
  • The Indian variant is the delta variant.

The quarantine obligation, which takes effect in the night from Monday to Tuesday at 0:01 am, is being introduced because the countries are estimated to be high-risk areas. This is mainly due to the advance of the worrying delta variant of the coronavirus (previously Indian variant).

People traveling to the Netherlands from the UK, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Myanmar and Nepal must have a correct and fully completed quarantine declaration. They must also be tested for the virus before departure and show a negative result.

Travelers who do not comply with the quarantine obligation can be fined 339 euros. Anyone who does not have a quarantine statement can be fined 95 euros.

Dutch nationals traveling to the UK must be able to show a negative test of no more than 72 hours old. The ministry calls on Dutch people to only travel to the UK if necessary and gives the country the color code orange.

According to the latest studies, the delta variant is a lot more contagious than the ‘classic’ coronavirus. Vaccines seem to be slightly less effective when infected with this variant, although they still offer sufficient protection.

A big change for the Dutch railways yesterday: the NS started running its normal timetable again – as before the corona pandemic.

The government’s advice to only make necessary trips expired last month. The advice is: avoid the crowds.  A face mask is still mandatory for everyone aged 13 and older on the train, at the station and on the platform. Due to the mask obligation, it is allowed not to keep a distance of 1.5 meters on the train. This means that all seats can be occupied, and that you can sit next to everyone. If you do not wear a face mask you can be fined 95 euros.

The NS launched the app ‘Treinwijzer’ a few months ago. A function where you can sign up for a train journey that you are planning to make. On the basis of those registrations and data on passenger numbers, a crowding forecast has been added for every train journey. How crowded they predict a trip to be is indicated with the little symbols.

The more people use the Treinwijzer, the more accurately the traffic can be predicted, according to NS.

There is a face mask obligation on the train, but sandwiches and drinks can still be eaten, says the NS. It is important that the mask is still worn in between.

“It is not the intention that you extensively eat a croissant on the train so that you do not have to wear your mouth cap. For example, take snacks of your food and sips of your drink and wear the mouth mask in between,” says the spokesperson.

Update on Dujat & Members

We will once again list our upcoming events below. Tomorrow for the first time since the outbreak last year, a small group of members will gather at Cityden Up in Amstelveen for a labor law round table event followed by drinks on the rooftop terrace. If you would like to be there but did not sign up, please send an e-mail to vangastel@dujat.nl or call 0624937861.

16 June: COVID-19 and Vaccination in Dutch Labor Law – Round Table with L&A Lawyers at Cityden Up

23 June: Special Concert at NedPhO-Koepel 

24 June: Accelerating New Technologies – Learn how 5G and AI can boost your business, and how cyber security can protect it.

01 July: Visit Yanmar Stadium and Floriade Area in City of Almere

10 July: Dujat at Women’s World Tennis Tour + Lunch

All of our events will be organized according to the corona measures. The invitations for every event listed above were already sent, except the Tennis event (will be sent next week, a save the date was shared before).

We herewith would like to share news from our member Concertgebouworkest:

Gustavo Gimeno, with whom the Concertgebouw Orchestra also undertook the restart after the first lockdown a year ago, will lead the first live concert since 16 April. Italian-inspired works by Schubert and Mendelssohn frame Ligeti’s early Concert Românesc, based on Romanian folk music.

Program Saturday 19 June:

  • Conductor Gustavo Gimeno
  • Franz Schubert program
    Ouverture ‘In the Italian style in D gr.t D 590

    György Ligeti
       Romanian Concert
    Felix Mendelssohn
       Symphony no. 4 in A. gr.t. op, 90
  • Start 21.15
  • Location The Concertgebouw, Main Hall

In order to welcome as many people as possible (425 per concert) this evening, we have chosen the option of having our audience tested. It is therefore necessary that all attendees are tested for possible Covid infection at least 40 hours before the concert (testenvoortoegang.nl)

The basic measures also apply, such as keeping a distance of 1.5 meters and wearing a face mask until you are seated. We advise everyone to schedule the test 24 hours before the concert, to make sure that the results are available on time.

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.nlNOSRTL NieuwsJapanTodayNHKNikkei Asia