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Your questions answered 31 March 2020
It is so important for companies to keep in touch with their importers/customers during this time by phone and email - keeping them up to date with how you’re going, any issues you may have, asking them about how they’re doing. Video conferences are still not widely used in Japan so just be aware that this will be new for some of your importers/customers.
It is my understanding that Medical Personal Protective Equipment is being produced by companies that would otherwise be manufacturing other products at this time, but due to COVID-19, have idle plants. Japan is a country that is used to natural disasters, and it is commonplace for households and companies to have PPE.
Japan’s food security policy stems from when Japan experienced an acute food shortage after World War II, and the overreliance on imported food and risks associated with this has always been a concern. The government realised that if import disruption takes place it will become necessary for Japan to produce the minimum food requirements in the country. For this reason Japan has rice, soy bean, and wheat stocks, and I believe these are controlled nationally.
No, most manufacturing plants are remaining open and those with idle plants are being encouraged with government subsidies to go into the production of essential items, such as masks.
The Department will be reviewing the forward program of business missions. As country borders re-open and cancelled or postponed events are rescheduled on the business mission calendar, we will be discussing with industry DTI’s program of future missions. In the meantime, please make use of our offshore offices and team to support you in-market.
It is my understanding that construction will keep going. Tokyo has a number of construction works still scheduled to be ready before the Olympics (2020) so these are still moving along. I imagine the speed of construction may be curtailed by the issues facing procurement of building supplies that are sourced from China. The government is also subsidising big companies with idle manufacturing plants, like Toyota for example, to enable them to start manufacturing medical use masks and respirators.
The Education Australia conference that was to be held in May has been cancelled. We are now looking at webinars and using online platforms to introduce schools/education institutions with the help of education agents here. This kind of platform is relatively unfamiliar to the Japanese audience, but we will have to explore these options and get people used to this style from now on. If we can make it easy, fun and interesting, the online platforms are something the Japanese audience will take on. I believe many schools are optimistic that they’ll be able to send students groups to Australian schools for short term study tours during the summer holidays (August to September) and some of them are already looking into options here. This will be determined by the travel ban and the willingness for host families to host.