Spike in COVID-19 cases prompts Tokyo to act . . .
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has declared a state of emergency in seven of Japan’s prefectures, including the capital city of Tokyo. The declaration was made to curb the drastic spike in new coronavirus cases and is expected to remain in place until at least May 6. As of April 8, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 has increased to 4,257 – nearly doubling within nine days – with 93 deaths. During the state of emergency, governors in the seven prefectures will be given the authority to request that their residents stay home, and that schools, some child and senior care centres, and non-essential stores and businesses be closed. Grocery stores, banks, postal services, medical services, and utility companies will remain open.
Unprecedented economic stimulus package . . .
Prime Minister Abe also announced a C$1.4-trillion economic stimulus package that equals 20 per cent of Japan’s annual GDP. It includes C$77 billion in cash payouts to households and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), a C$335-billion relief bill for social security and tax payment deferrals, and C$502 billion in direct fiscal spending. Within the cash payout package, SMEs that have lost more than 50 per cent of their revenue will be given C$26,000, while families suffering from income loss at any time between February and June will receive C$3,750. The rest of the stimulus package is aimed at boosting demand in sectors such as transportation, tourism, and food services, which have been hit especially hard by the coronavirus outbreak.
Cultural, technical challenges to working remotely . . .
Many Japanese businesses are unprepared for remote work during a state of emergency. Many lack the infrastructure for teleworking. But in addition, Japan’s work culture is one that highly prizes face-to-face interaction. Konica Minolta has assisted with the former by setting up public Wi-Fi. The firm had initially intended to provide additional teleworking support during the Tokyo Summer Olympics, which have been postponed until next year.
- Japan Times: Emergency declared in Japan for Tokyo, Osaka and five other virus hot spots
- Nikkei Asian Review: Japan’s $1tn stimulus offers $18,00 to mom and pop businesses
- Washington Post: Work from home, they said. In Japan, it’s not so easy