Weekly Update: News on Japan & the Netherlands – Week 26, 2020

This newsletter was shared with Dujat members on 25-6-2020. 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 18,024 on Thursday 25 June, health officials said, with a total of 963 people who lost their lives as a result of the disease.Tokyo’s new coronavirus cases climbed to 55 on Wednesday, the highest tally since 5 May, after a cluster of infections was found at an unnamed office in the Japanese capital.Speaking before the latest figure was reported, Tokyo Gov Yuriko Koike had warned of a “large number” on Wednesday as more positive test results followed a cluster of seven infections previously found at the office.”Clusters in the workplace have become a big problem lately” as people have emerged from the capital’s “Stay Home” initiative, she told reporters. “Businesses like eateries are taking steps to create partitions and such, but it’s difficult to see what kind of precautions are being taken at offices.”The latest case tells us that offices can become clusters too, so we’d like everyone to think again about what a new normal for the workplace should look like.” Koike said that in addition to the latest results from the office, more than 10 cases emerged from group testing in Shinjuku – an area known for its nightlife – on Wednesday.

    Still, Tokyo – like the rest of Japan – has been spared the kind of explosive outbreak seen elsewhere, with some 5,800 coronavirus cases and 323 deaths so far.

  • According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, almost 40% of the funds budgeted for cash handouts to households has not yet reached people despite their approval in late April, writes The JapanTimes on Wednesday 24 June.As for business loans and job-protection subsidies, other key measures in Abe’s ¥233.9 trillion package, only 14% of the budget earmarked for smaller firms has been lent out, and just 5.8% of aid has reached companies maintaining their payrolls. The upshot is that even with the best of intentions, the government is falling short of the speedy assistance it promised as the economy faces its biggest contraction in more than six decades.“The speed is slow,” said economist Harumi Taguchi at IHS Markit, comparing Japan’s performance with other major economies. “I suspect the aid hasn’t really gotten to the people who needed it most, when they needed it most.”The limitations of the government apparatus revealed by the coronavirus should serve as an enormous incentive to drive digitalization and reform, said Martin Schulz, chief policy economist at Fujitsu Ltd. Japan announced plans on Tuesday to upgrade the country’s digital infrastructure. “Because the response has been slow, there are people who have gone out of business,” said Nobuyasu Atago, economist at Okasan Securities. “We’ll have to wait and see how many people have gone bust.”

    While bankruptcy rates have not shot up yet, the number of people idled has. In April, another 4.2 million people were on leave compared with the month before. Some 143,380 applications for the furlough program have been accepted from companies so far.

  • A survey by Japan’s largest labor organization has found that about 52% of respondents who have started teleworking due to the novel coronavirus pandemic are working longer hours, the union said Wednesday. The Japanese Trade Union Confederation, known as Rengo, said its online survey also revealed many people are not reporting overtime, highlighting challenges in the labor management of teleworkers.”Workers and employers should thoroughly communicate with each other to set rules for teleworking swiftly,” Rengo President Rikio Kozu said. The survey was conducted in early June targeting people aged 18 to 65, who began telecommuting in April or later, after many workplaces introduced the practice to contain the spread of the virus. A total of 1,000 people across Japan gave valid responses.It showed that 65% of those that worked beyond their regular hours at home did not report the overtime they worked, with many citing a corporate culture against reporting it. Regarding expenses incurred by teleworking, including internet connection and mobile phone fees, some 66% said they pay them out of their own pocket, while 20% said they receive subsidies from their workplaces.Asked about the benefits of teleworking in a multiple-choice question, about 75% said they can make better use of their time as they do not need to spend any time commuting. As for shortcomings, 45% said they have trouble separating work from everything else, and 38 percent said they missed socializing with their bosses and coworkers.

    Among those with children of school age, about 70% said they find it hard to telework, particularly those with preschoolers as they need to care for them and play with them.

    Many schools and day-care centers were closed or inaccessible during the state of emergency, which was declared in April to contain the virus and fully lifted in late May, forcing many parents to look after their children at home while working.

  • All Nippon Airways Co. said last week on Thursday it will resume services on 20 domestic routes in July as the spread of COVID-19 has slowed and regional economies are reopening. The Japanese airline said, however, that nearly half of the flights it originally planned to operate during the month will remain suspended.It will resume flights between Tokyo and Kobe, as well as those to and from Kansai International Airport in western Japan and New Chitose Airport in Hokkaido, among other services. ANA said it will suspend 12,227 domestic flights on 109 routes in July, though it initially planned to operate 24,134.For June, the company had planned 22,970 flights but said it would suspend 15,963 flights due to the pandemic and the subsequent drop in travel demand. Among other domestic airlines, Japan Airlines Co. and Skymark Airlines Inc. are also resuming some of their suspended services.The government, which completed the lifting of a nationwide state of emergency in late May, has decided to end restrictions on travel across prefectures starting Friday.
  • Toyota Motor Corp. said Thursday it has resumed all manufacturing in Asia after its plant in India, the last in the region where output had remained suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, was rebooted. Toyota restarted operations at the No. 2 plant of its Indian subsidiary Toyota Kirloskar Motor Pvt. Ltd. on Monday for the first time since 23 March.It had already resumed output at its plants in China and Southeast Asia. Toyota produced 2.57 million units in Asia, excluding Japan, in 2019, about 28% of its global output. In India, it produced 116,393 units. In other regions, production in Portugal, Brazil and Venezuela remains suspended following the outbreak of the virus, it said.
  • Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea will reopen from 1 July after a four-month suspension over coronavirus, its operators said Tuesday, as Japan gradually reopens its economy, including theme parks and professional sports.Oriental Land said the two resorts will resume operations to a limited number of visitors who bought online, reserved tickets. The parks will enforce rigorous social distancing measures and use of masks, while also checking guests’ temperatures.”We will operate the parks with caution” by restricting the number of guests and on individual rides, as well as cleaning and social distancing efforts, Oriental Land said in a statement. Last month, a group of Japanese park operators, including Oriental Land, released guidelines on how to operate safely under the threat of the virus.Tokyo’s Disney parks closed in late February as the pandemic swept across the world. Around that time, Japan began to see a surge in infections, prompting the government to close schools and urge theme parks and major events to consider cancelling or rescheduling until the infections were brought under control. More than 30 million visitors flood into the two Japanese parks each year, and they are among the most popular destinations for tourists visiting Tokyo.

    Japan is gradually lifting social restrictions associated with the coronavirus, after the government lifted a national state of emergency a month ago. Universal Studios Japan in Osaka opened on 8 June to very limited visitors who live nearby and who already own one-year passes, before expanding the rule to residents of a wider region in western Japan.

    Japanese professional baseball began behind closed doors last week and the main football league returns to action on 4 July. The two sports will gradually allow spectators into stadiums from 11 July.

Update on the Netherlands

  • The total number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the Netherlands stood at 49,804 on Thursday 25 June, health officials said, with a total of 6,097 people who lost their lives as a result of the disease.
  • On the evening of Wednesday 24 June, the cabinet announced a number of relaxations of the corona measures from 1 July at a press conference.Basic rules will remain: keep a distance of 1.5 meters, and if you have complaints, stay at home and get tested for coronavirus as soon as possible. Avoid crowds, travel outside rush hour, and work from home as much as possible.In places where you do not have to make a reservation and where you do not receive questions about your health in advance, a maximum of one hundred people applies. This does not apply to places with a high flow of visitors (for example, museums, shops and libraries). There is no maximum there.In public transport, a non-medical mask is mandatory, and from 1 July all seats will be available, but the advice is still to travel outside rush hour as much as possible.

    More people (also from different households) will be allowed to travel together in the car from 1 July. The advice is to wear a face mask, but it is not mandatory. People with a contact profession (hairdressers, sex workers, masseurs, driving instructors) do not have to comply with the 1.5 meter rule for customers.Outside, a maximum of 250 people can be together. That is exclusive of personnel. However, like almost everywhere, the 1.5 meter rule applies. Customers must have a permanent seat on terraces. There is no maximum if everyone has reserved and answered questions about their own health. There is no maximum number of visitors in zoos, amusement parks and at fairgrounds. Everyone must keep a distance of 1.5 meters.

    Children up to and including the age of twelve do not have to keep a distance of 1.5 meters between themselves and adults. This is not necessary in schools or childcare.Primary schools were already open and secondary schools reopen fully after the summer holidays. Students do not have to keep a distance of 1.5 meters. However, they must keep a distance to the teacher.

    Colleges and universities may also be opened further after the summer holidays to teach students back in the classroom. Everyone should keep a distance of 1.5 meters.All sports, both indoor and outdoor sports, may be practiced. This also applies to contact sports. Matches may also be played again. After a training or competition, athletes must again observe the 1.5 meter rule.

    During competitions, the audience may sit or stand along the line. There is a maximum of 250 spectators. Audience can also be present again at games taking place in stadiums, but must keep a distance of 1.5 meters. Also in stadiums may again be public at matches.

  • So far there have been no reported coronavirus deaths on two days in June, according to new figures from public health institute RIVM. On Monday 22 June, the RIVM reported no increase in the number of official COVID-19 deaths in the Netherlands, and although the overnight figure rose by 5 on Tuesday, these were related to deaths on Sunday and earlier in the month, RIVM said.Since testing was opened up to everyone with symptoms on 1 June, 170,000 tests have been completed. Of these, 1.4% or 2,357 tested positive. However, the percentage is still going down, the RIVM said. In the first wake of mass testing, 2% of the tests were positive, but that has now decreased to 0.9%. There are, however, strong regional variations, with the lowest positive rates in the north, Zeeland and southern parts of Limburg.The RIVM also said that 12,793 teachers, school staff and daycare workers have been tested for the virus since 1 June, and just 68 cases were positive. There is no difference in the testing results between the different sorts of schools, the RIVM said.
  • The Dutch economy will shrink 6% this year because of the coronavirus crisis while unemployment will double by 2021, CPB (Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis) said in its June forecasts.Without a second wave, the economy will contract in 2020 but grow again by 3% in 2021, the CPB said. Unemployment will rise from 3.4% to 5% this year, and again to 7% next year. Public finances would be severely impacted but “they would not enter the danger zone.”At the same time, the agency warned of the ‘great uncertainties’ ahead, particularly the likely impact of a second wave, which would require tough measures on social distancing and further damage the economy.”The current government is facing major dilemmas,” said Pieter Hasekamp, director of CPB. “During the recovery phase, we need a managed withdrawal of state support, but the measure to which the government can withdraw depends on the speed of the recovery.”If there is a second wave GDP would decrease also in 2021, with unemployment rising to 10% and public debt increasing to over 75% of GDP,’ the agency said. The CPB’s forecasts, which have a key role when ministers draw up their budgets for the coming year, are roughly in line with those published by Rabobank earlier this month.
  • 120 companies that received more than 6 million euros in support money to be able to continue to pay their staff have now been declared bankrupt. Minister Wopke Hoekstra of Economic Affairs and Climate announced this on Wednesday in response to questions from the Senate.Under the Temporary Emergency Bridging Measure for Sustained Employment (NOW), the companies that have since fallen over received an average of 50,400 euros from the UWV. The agency reported in early June that the total NOW benefit was 4.5 billion euros at that time. That money was paid to 123,000 employers, who employ 2.1 million people.The provision of advances will be stopped as soon as there is an indication of a moratorium or bankruptcy. According to the minister, however, it cannot be prevented that part of the NOW scheme ends up with companies that are ultimately declared bankrupt.Companies can qualify for the NOW scheme if they demonstrably have less income due to the corona crisis. They can then be reimbursed for part of the labor costs. The first application period for the scheme has now ended. Applications for the second term can be submitted from 6 July.
  • Telecom providers are concerned about a bill that requests them to temporarily collect more data about people’s travel behavior and to share it anonymously. One of the concerns is that investigative services can access the information stored with providers.That is what sources in the telecom industry say to the NOS. The data concerned are intended for RIVM; the institute believes they can help fight coronavirus. When the law comes into force, providers may supply Statistics Netherlands with anonymised data about the movements of people between municipalities on a daily basis. The statistical office processes and combines the information with other sources and then forwards it to RIVM.For example, if there is an outbreak in Utrecht and data shows that there have been many people from Rotterdam shortly before, the institute can point this out to the GGD. In an explanation, RIVM compares this to a smoke detector: it is more likely to detect revivals of the virus.The sources that the NOS spoke to only wanted to be presented anonymously because the subject is politically sensitive. They agree that providers will have to build a new database as a result of the bill. Opinions differ about what ends up in that database and to what extent this can be traced back to individuals.

    For example, providers must determine which municipality someone is from. One of the sources says that this means that the database will show which municipalities someone has been in the past 30 days by requesting data from a transmission tower. From this it can be deduced where, on average, someone has been most often, which is probably the place of residence.

    This will require traceable data to determine who it is, for example a 06 number that is converted into a unique code. It remains the same, which would make it possible to find out who it is. Telecom expert Rudolf van der Berg, who works at consultancy firm Stratix, confirms this lecture.

    Insiders within the telecom industry are concerned about the data collection, which could be of interest to investigative services, because this type of data is not currently being collected. Other sources say that the database does not show who it is. A fourth source cannot estimate whether the new database will lead to extra interest from investigative services, but does share concerns about its design.

    Researcher Matthijs Koot, who obtained his PhD on data anonymity at the University of Amsterdam, says that all interpretations of the bill show that there is still a lot of ambiguity. “At the moment, there is indeed a chance that the legislation will be implemented in such a way that the data is not entirely anonymous,” he concluded.

    Furthermore, sources have doubts about the usefulness and necessity of the measure. They are not so much concerned about the storage of the data by providers, but more about its processing when the information leaves an provider anonymously. Criticism shared by Jaap-Henk Hoepman, associate professor of privacy engineering at Radboud University in Nijmegen: “You can feel that there are risks involved.”

    The Ministry of Economic Affairs says that the technical implementation of the law is still being examined by Statistics Netherlands, RIVM and the providers. Statistics Netherlands expects this to become clearer when the law comes into effect. The law, which still has to pass through the House of Representatives and the Senate, expires after one year, but can be extended. The proposal is separate from the corona app.

  • If you want to travel abroad, you need a so-called health certificate in a number of cases. But how do you get there and in which countries is it valid? The answer is quite complicated. “Because no international agreements have yet been made. So in many different countries, many different rules apply,” says a KLM spokesman.The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has informed RTL Nieuws that it recommends travelers to check before departure whether they can travel to the country of destination and what measures apply there. This information can be found per country on the website nederlandwereldreed.nl and the various travel advice has been collected.In the Netherlands it currently works as follows: if you travel via a Dutch airport, you are requested as a passenger to have a health certificate with you. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to obtain a health certificate from your doctor or anyone else.At the moment, anyone traveling through a Dutch airport is asked to have such a document with them. According to a KLM spokesperson, the following countries are currently requesting this statement from people who wish to enter their airports: South Korea, Canada, Singapore, Italy, Aruba, Bonaire, France and Turkey.

    However, other countries may also require other medical documents if you enter them by other means than by air. For example, people who want to enter Spain must be able to show a fully completed health certificate from the local GGD. And people visiting France must provide a full declaration of honor to declare that they have no symptoms of coronavirus.

    These requirements may also differ for passengers from different countries. You can look up the exact requirements for each country worldwide, and for which nationality they apply. Incidentally, it often also applies the other way around. Passengers from various countries on the so-called EASA list (including Belgium, France, Italy, Sweden and Great Britain) must have completed the Health Screening Form of the RIVM upon arrival at a Dutch airport. They must show that before they enter the airport.

    In some countries, a health certificate is not enough, says KLM. “In China, South Korea, Singapore, Turkey and Italy, a temperature test is also being conducted at some airports.” KLM does not currently fly to Turkey.

    Some countries go even further, they have still closed their airspace to all or certain nationalities. Or the local authorities want you to take a corona test before departure, such as Curaçao and Bonaire. You can only enter those countries in the event of a negative result.

    You can also have a test done via KLM Health Services. They work with a so-called PCR test. It is examined whether there are virus particles in the nasal or oral cavity. The result of that test comes within 24 to 32 hours, and the passenger is also supplied with an English-language certificate. The cost for this test is 179 euros.

    “We only test people who are not covered by the Dutch test policy and who have no health problems or Covid-19 symptoms. Do you have complaints or do you develop complaints such as fever, cough, sore throat or rhinitis? Unfortunately we cannot test you and we refer you to the GGD “, can be read on their site.

    But beware: this way of screening is not completely reliable, because such a test is only a snapshot. The passenger may still be in the incubation period where the virus cannot be found yet. Or that the passenger becomes infected between the time of the test and the start of his or her journey.

Update on Dujat & Members

  • Today from 10:30, members from both the Netherlands and Japan will log in jointly to attend our online event: “DUJAT-EY Webinar: Beyond COVID-19: what do companies need to prepare for?”During this webinar, we will focus on planning for ‘Return to Work’ from a people perspective, tools and insights for digital acceleration and innovation adopting new customer buying behavior, how to reduce the costs to accelerate the growth, and how to mitigate the tax exposure in a view from transfer pricing. A group of seasoned EY experts will address this matters.Please let us know if you are still interested in joining.
  • If your company has any news to share in next week’s newsletter, let us know via 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 NieuwsJapanTimesJapanTodayMainichiWorldometers