Visit Ishigaki with Yoitabi Travel

Visit Ishigaki with Yoitabi Travel

While keeping an eye on the numbers and standing firm on the safety measures and recommendations, the Japanese Government has finally started the reactivation of the travel and hospitality industry.

Following this line, we have really great news for all the beach lovers. Our Corporate Member Yoitabi Travel has launched a special package to visit one of the most beautiful islands of the Okinawa archipelago, Ishigaki Island.

Did you know that Tripadvisor named Ishigaki Island the world’s hottest spot back in 2018? Ishigakijima is well-known for its surrounding coral reefs, their famed manta rays and some of the most beautiful sunsets of Japan.

If you would like to know more details about this package, do not hesitate to contact Yoitabi Travel through their contact email: 

info@yoitabitravel.com

Package Details

Duration: 4 days. 3 nights
Economy Flight Tickets 
Accommodation: 5* Hotel (breakfast included)
Private transfers from/to the airport
Leisure Activities: Island Hoping, Snorkeling Tour, Sunset BBQ cruise…  

OCTOBER
From ¥121,500 /PAX (995€ /Pax)  

SEPTEMBER
From ¥135,200 /PAX (1,095€ /Pax)  

AUGUST
From ¥166,200 /PAX (1,345€ /Pax)  

At Yoitabi Travel they are committed to create alternative, individualized and responsible travel experiences, so do not hesitate to contact them regarding Ishigaki package but also if you would like to design your own personalized experience. 

How can the auto industry give users what they want in the post-COVID-19 world?

How can the auto industry give users what they want in the post-COVID-19 world?

How can the auto industry give users what they want in the post-COVID-19 world?

In vast swathes of the world, most movement has been halted. Once people are able to travel once again, will they go back to their old ways of moving around?
Unlikely.
In attempting to predict a likely future state for the automotive industry specifically, to me one thing is clear: this crisis will trigger a shift in consumer preferences.
I predict two main—but somewhat opposing—shifts.

Firstly, more people will prefer to use a car rather than public transport.
When people will once again be able to travel, it is fair to assume that many will be reticent to use public transport that is packed with people, in close proximity, touching dirty surfaces. Given the choice, would you be willing to do that on a daily basis to get to work? Or exposing your family to that?
Another factor to remember is that falling oil prices may make using a car more attractive, at least from an economic perspective… if and when the fall in oil prices are translated to the prices consumers pay at the pumps.

The second shift is that less people will want—or be able—to buy a car.
While the value of having your own personal space is clear, the economic crisis means that people are not going to be able to afford a car. It is obvious that the immediate macro-economic impact of the crisis has led to high unemployment, which will directly translate into less demand for new cars.
Even for those people whose work has not been affected, many will have become accustomed to teleworking, which will likely become far more prevalent even once the crisis is over. This will mean that fewer people will need to commute, and those that do will do so less often, translating into less willingness to pay for an expensive/new car.

And what about the newfound, widespread focus on sustainability? This year’s crises—including the Australian bushfires and COVID-19—have brought people highly visible, immediate, and tangible effects of what is being characterised as a lack of respect for and acknowledgement of the limits of the environment. I predict that this will also have a downward effect on demand for new, privately owned cars. Yes, fuel prices might fall, but increasing fuel consumption and buying and throwing away cars are not going to be seen as part of the answer.

Given the reduction in willingness to use public transport and the reduction in ability/willingness to buy a new car, my prediction is that there will be a surge in demand for shared (and preferably electric) vehicles.

In the short term, this will be a boon for electric shared car service providers—such as Ferrovial’s Zity, VW’s WeShare, and Daimler/BMW joint venture SHARE NOW—but there are two key pain points that these services do not address:

  • Peace of mind around the service: How will the service provider guarantee that the in-car environment—particularly the steering wheel, touchscreens, etc.—will not be contaminated.
  • Fitness for purpose of the vehicle: Given that these vehicles were designed first and foremost for the private ownership market, do the cars do the jobs that car sharers want from them? What could they do better if they were built, first and foremost, for sharing?

I believe that both of these challenges strike at the heart of automakers’ traditional weaknesses, but could be sources of opportunity.

Designing a mobility service for the post-COVID-19 world
It is no secret that automakers’ traditional strengths and core competencies in manufacturing have caused them to lag behind in how to successfully design for, and capture value from, Mobility as a Service, relying instead on a traditional waterfall approach beginning with the vehicle and considering the service a mere add-on.

How much more powerful would it be if an automaker really looked at the shifts in consumer behaviour, and designed new mobility solutions based on consumer pains and jobs to be done focused on the service, with the form of the vehicle following the function required from it?

We have seen mobility service providers quickly roll out minimum viable solutions to the coronavirus challenge: for example, Didi Chuxing (China’s answer to Uber) started sticking up protective plastic dividers between drivers and passengers in its cars, setting up 46 shield installation points and 9 disinfection stations around Beijing. But this was in response to taxi drivers taking matters into their own hands and making makeshift barriers themselves, or even wearing hazmat suits.

However, these are temporary solutions that illustrate a real problem.

What could service providers—automakers, ride hailing companies and car sharing companies alike—do to ensure not only that vehicles are safe, but that people feel safe?

To successfully address consumers’ concerns, companies must firstly make sure that they understand deeply what consumers care about and secondly, make service design a priority.

Designing a vehicle for the post-COVID-19 world
Even if services are put in place to give users peace of mind around shared vehicles, the fact remains that these vehicles were never intended to be shared, and therefore are not built for purpose. Some upstart companies—Chinese/Swedish Lynk & Co springs to mind—have created cars with shareability in mind from the start, but we are still a long way from a car that has been designed with the needs of car sharing as being foremost.

While in the old days, interactions with the car and the use cases for a car were limited to those dictated by one owner, shared cars will be used by multiple people for multiple different purposes on any given day. How could one car adapt to all those needs? How should a car allow interaction with a multitude of different people?

What could a purpose-built shared car look like?
Answering these questions would require a deep study of customer needs and behaviours in different contexts, and an integrated approach that takes in service design and digital touch points, as well as the physical design of the car.
Any car company that does this could really build themselves a differentiated advantage. It is here that automakers could really shine, as Uber and other service providers cannot suddenly start building cars.

Driving forward

The world is going to look and feel rather different to the world we had before, and all companies must prepare to address new concerns and understand new consumer preferences.
An integrated design approach across service, digital, and physical, based on a deep understanding of customer’s needs and concerns, will be key to make the changes required to business for survival post-crisis.

Whoever answers the call to understand new consumer preferences and make a vehicle that is more adaptable, more sustainable, and with a service that feels secure, will surely find a place in the post-COVID-19 world.

What are you doing to prepare for this shift?

Maruan El Mahgiub
Director of Business Strategy at Mormedi

Security Threats in this New World

Security Threats in this New World

On 9 June the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Japan organised an online seminar inviting Gerard Salvador López, Senior Cloud Transformation Specialist at IBM to hear what is currently happening in the world of IT from a cyber-security perspective.

2020 will be remembered as the biggest remote working experiment in the history of mankind. With almost a third of the world’s population locked down, businesses and industries are trying to face this new reality asking their employees to work from home. Just as an example, Zoom is now worth more than the sum of the 5 biggest airlines in the US.

However, the larger the IT infrastructure is, the higher the likelihood of having vulnerabilities. Covid-19 has changed the security landscape enormously and, probably, forever. Just to give you an example, there has seen an increase of 14.000% in spam and phishing.

Passionate about the potential of technology and the risks of it, Gerard Salvador López has worked as a Cloud Strategist at Siemens in Belgium, lead the Engineers Without Borders NGO, hosted a TEDx event and wrote a book about the future of technology, “Too tech to fail”. He holds an Engineering Degree and a Master in Business Administration at Vlerick Business School in Belgium. For more information, you can take a look into his website: www.gerardsl.com.

Spanish Automotive Suppliers looking ahead after COVID-19 crisis

Spanish Automotive Suppliers looking ahead after COVID-19 crisis

Spanish Automotive Suppliers looking ahead after COVID-19 crisis

COVID-19 is having a major impact on the economy and has caused an unprecedented lockdown in automotive manufacturing and retail activities in Europe and worldwide.

The automotive industry is one of the pillars of the Spanish economy. Over 1000 companies supply vehicle parts and components both to the OEMs located in Spain, Europe and worldwide and also for the aftermarket. Spain is the 2nd vehicle producer in Europe and the 9th worldwide and Spanish suppliers export c. 60% of their revenues: €20,754 million in 2019 out of €35,822 million turnover.

Restarting plants and logistical operations across the EU is a highly complex process, that relies on enough demand in the pipeline an on a functioning internal market, which is a difficult task when member states and regions are at different stages in the corona crisis.

Uncertainty and volatility of demand are considered the most critical issues for the automotive supply chain at the moment. The future perspective depends very much on consumer sentiment and demand picking up substantially. Experts have already discarded a fast recovery (V shape) and consider that a slow recovery (U shape) or a recession (L shape) are the possible scenarios. Recovery of 2019 figures is not expected until 2022 or even later, which has urged the Spanish Government to launch a recovery plan that includes measures both to promote demand and to support the industrial capabilities in the whole supply chain, with liquidity and labor measures and to support R&D and innovation.  

Demand stimulus through vehicle renewal schemes will kickstart economic recovery, support the relaunch of the sector and therefore safeguard jobs and investment capacity. The automotive industry can act as an engine of overall economic recovery thanks to its impact on other economic sectors and its multiplier effect.

Moreover, the crisis is accelerating the transformation of the sector. The whole automotive ecosystem must look ahead and maintain focus on the objectives towards a sustainable, safer, connected and automated mobility in a digital and carbon-neutral society. Besides the market and production recovery, investment in people and R&D remain essential and the companies need to reconsider their strategic plans in the short, medium and long terms, to become more resource efficient.

The Spanish components industry is leader in materials and production technologies, thanks to its extensive experience manufacturing parts for multiple models of vehicles from different industrial cultures, including the Japanese one. This long tradition is linked to its commitment to innovation. Spanish manufacturers of auto equipment and components invest 4.1% of their turnover in R&D&I; three times the average of Spanish industries. This means that products incorporate advanced technologies and meet the most demanding specifications.

Though equipment and components are largely “invisible”, automotive suppliers contribute to about 75% of the total value of a vehicle. And as cars are increasingly including sensors and electrical and electronic components, this figure will grow. The engineering and technology departments of the Spanish components industry are made up of professionals from technical schools and universities, recognized worldwide for training students to the highest academic standards.

Spanish suppliers are adapting to new times without compromising quality, safety and competitive prices. Their brands have achieved recognition and customers’ trust all around the world.

For Spain, and particularly for automotive suppliers, Japan is amongst the top ten export destinies, if we consider the EU as a whole, with an average increase of 5% in the last 5 years. The FTA signed recently between Japan and the EU will favour trade exchanges due to the harmonization of technical requirements.

Maria Luisa Soria
Public Affairs and Innovation Director in SERNAUTO (Spanish Association of Automotive Suppliers)

Remote interpreting – a chance for the internalization of SMEs

Remote interpreting – a chance for the internalization of SMEs

Remote interpreting – a chance for the internalization of SMEs

New normality is not here yet. For the last couple months, we all have started taking measures in order to adapt to this endlessly shifting reality. Citizens follow guidelines from the experts, while companies from different industries face different challenges. While having all the options on the table, every single factor must be scrutinized by companies in order to implement the right measures to continue being an active actor in the market.

The translation and interpretation industry, which my company belongs to, has not been impacted as badly as the hospitality or fashion industries. Although April was a rather sluggish month for most, right now translation is still alive and well. Since most freelance translators have been working remotely since the birth of the internet, not much has changed in this regard. Translation in fields such as audiovisual and literature especially is still in abundance, with streaming content or video games being almost the only option of entertainment currently available.


On the other hand, it is not an overstatement to say that interpretation or oral translation is in a lean period. Interpreters are qualified professionals with not only a great understanding of and fluency in the two or more languages that they work with, but also with an array of skills to convey a message and make communication between two or more parties possible, a key tool in the current world we live in. Although the practice of alternating with a speaker to translate what they are saying so that listeners can constantly follow along, commonly known as consecutive interpretation, is more common and requires virtually no equipment, for high-level meetings or seminars with many participants and not enough time to alternate between speaker and interpreter, simultaneous interpreting becomes necessary. When providing this service, an interpreter finds herself/himself actively listening to the speaker in order to understand what they are saying and then convey it in another language to the listeners on the spot. Similar to professional athletes, surgeons or chemists, the highest-level interpreters might be seen by some as extraordinary people with superpowers.

However, we are in an age where even the jobs of the most capable of people are in shambles. Here in Japan, we are seeing with our own eyes how many expats are being sent back to their home countries. All of the hard work spent developing skills and know-how is suddenly not a guarantee to have a stable life. It seems like the situation will not get better anytime soon and that there is no hope left in these trying times. Or is there?

Unexpectedly, this viral crisis might actually bring some great business opportunities both for companies with a presence in the international landscape and related professionals. Remote teleconference platforms, such as Zoom or Interprefy, as well as a large number of apps that are available to the public nowadays, provide premium services that enable one or several designated people to carry out simultaneous interpretation. Simple features enable participants in a videoconference to select a channel and listen to an interpreter in a language they understand, while muting the speaker speaking in another language. Despite the sometimes-imperfect sound quality and some basic technical difficulties that may arise, mainly due to internet connections, this is indeed not so different to a professional setting such as an international meeting, conference or seminar where soundproof booths, microphones, headphones and a PA system are required.

We do believe that with the new 5G networks that are being implemented, new tech will be developed, bringing new business opportunities and ways of carrying out such services. We can see great positive outcomes for companies whose activity crosses borders and for the professionals involved in the interpreting field. With shorter notice, companies will still be able to connect with a professional interpreter who provides a similar high-quality service for a significantly lower price. Moreover, this will help small and medium-sized enterprises have more of a chance to negotiate and build up a relationship with foreign companies and vendors. Likewise, interpreters can benefit from this new way of providing services by being able to manage their schedules better and have a better work-life balance.


The role of a translation and interpretation agency will remain the same: providing clients with the resources and solutions required to cater to their needs whenever necessary with the guarantee of a great outcome. However, agencies must continue to find out how to help and assist their clients in the most efficient way possible in this new era we are now entering.

Jorge Rubio
Sales Planning Division No.2
Operations Deparment at Franchir Co., Ltd.

Managing through the maelstrom

Managing through the maelstrom

The Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Japan (SpCCJ) together with the Belgium-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce in Japan (BLCCJ) in a joint effort invited on Friday 29 May, partners and directors of the Japan member firm of Deloitte to share with our members, their perspective related to doing business in Japan during the COVID-19 emergency.

Evolution of a crisis, relief measures, financial reporting matters, technology vision and vulnerabilities and command strategies were some of the topics covered in this interesting and useful sesion.

A big thank you to our 5 speakers from Deloitte and to all the attendants for joining us during lunch time!

The New Normal: How can we ensure a safe and secure environment? – Biological Passport: Access to a COVID-19 free society

The New Normal: How can we ensure a safe and secure environment? – Biological Passport: Access to a COVID-19 free society

Amidst the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, our way of life has changed drastically. How can we tell places you visit or people you meet are COVID free? How will companies protect their employees and create a safe workplace?

Applying tests for every single person will be a must in the New Normal Society? Will we all have an easy access to these newly developed medical kits soon?

 On May 19, Andy Chang, APAC Regional Senior Director of our Corporate Member IGENOMIX offered us answers to these questions and many others in a webinar session specially organised for the SpCCJ Members.

Igenomix is a Spanish reproductive and fertility bio-tech company, which has been working on COVID-19 testing for private usage, by applying their know-how in genetics. Igenomix has recently launched the FDA-EUA approved COVID-19 RT-PCR Test and also introduced the Igenomix Biological Passport, a combination of new COVID-19 RT-PCR diagnostic test and a COVID-19 serological antibody test.

2nd Online CEO Round Table Discussion – Session 2

2nd Online CEO Round Table Discussion – Session 2

As the COVID-19 pandemic is globally expanding and having economic and financial impacts, the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Japan organied the 2nd online CEO round table Discussion to create a platphone, where the CEOs & Managing Directors of our Corporate members could exchange information and ideas.

Atendants: Hernandez-Echevarria, Orto Group, Nishibi, Novajika, Mormedi.

This time we invited the Economic and Comercial Counsellor of the Embassy of Spain to Japan, Fernando Hernandez to the session.

2nd Online CEO Round Table Discussion – Session 1

2nd Online CEO Round Table Discussion – Session 1

As the COVID-19 pandemic is globally expanding and having economic and financial impacts, the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Japan organied the 2nd online CEO round table Discussion to create a platphone, where the CEOs & Managing Directors of our Corporate members could exchange information and ideas.

Atendants: Amadeus, Chanel, Iberia, Gestamp, Grupo Antolin, Grupo Freixenet & J. Garcia Carrion.

This time we invited the Economic and Comercial Counsellor of the Embassy of Spain to Japan, Fernando Hernandez to the session.

Covid-19: emergency ruling under the rule of law and legal certainty

Covid-19: emergency ruling under the rule of law and legal certainty

Covid-19: emergency ruling under the rule of law and legal certainty

Among all legal issues that are emerging owing to the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent health and sanitary crisis there are two of undeniable relevance. On one hand, governments sticking to the principle of the rule of law. The other one, more linked and oriented to the business and commercial environment, governments preserving legal certainty. Both are equally important in Japan and Spain. To begin with the rule of law, as Prime Minister Abe Shinzo pointed out in his welcome speech at the Opening Ceremony of the IBA Annual Conference held in Tokyo back in 2014:

Law represents the morals and norms of society, created through consensus among people who work together, and bound by their shared love of humanity. In all human societies there is always the law, and power is always the servant of the law”.

Declaring the state of alarm in Spain and the state of emergency in Japan (articles 116 and 41 of their Constitutions, respectively) cannot imply, by any means, giving governments carte blanche for adopting any kind of extraordinary measures in defiance of the law. The more extraordinary the use of powers is, the more the need to scrutinize executive actions not only politically -through parliamentary supervision- but specially by the judiciary. It is not only that acting extraordinarily does not mean acting above the law. It is precisely because governments are using unusual tools to impose exceptional measures which imply restrictions of fundamental rights, that the rule of law shall be more jealously preserved.

Balancing basic priorities such as human lives and health conditions on one hand, and fundamental personal, economic and social rights and liberties, on the other, shall be based on whether advantages outweigh the disadvantages and ultimately, be liable for those decisions. It is crucial that Governments have to respect the usual constitutional procedures, motivating their decisions. Measures shall be proportionate and limited in scope and time, although strong and strict enough to achieve its sanitary goals, even if constraints of rights and liberties come along as a consequence of the extraordinary measures.

Spanish and Japanese societies are bound by the variety of laws, regulations and executive orders but also by their sympathetic sense of responsibility. In Spain the “forcefully lockdown” imposes strict limitations of rights, that have been accompanied by coercive measures and consequent administrative and even criminal penalties. While in Japan, instead, a “soft lockdown” has been implemented, based on jishuku [自粛]. However, the precedent of issuing mandatory orders in 2011 to evacuate population from the catastrophic area affected by the Fukushima natural and nuclear disaster could be seen as ground for adopting harsher measures. Avoiding the temptation of the abuse of power while suffering a state of emergency situation is tantamount to saying that governments shall exercise extreme caution in submitting its actions to the rule of law, before, during and also after the emergency situation, including material responsibility of the state if and when legal requirements for such liability are met. We all need to be attentive.

In parallel, a new climate of legal certainty is needed for companies, public administrations and citizens alike, which implies, for instance, to make public in full all new regulations, limitation in retroactive effects of laws, protection of legitimate interest and legitimate expectation or using interventional procedures with care and limitation. A new and to some extend highly volatile environment need to know in advance the “rules of the game” for this new situation of “new normality”. Clarity in the content of laws and regulations will prevent arbitrariness and abuse of power. Not knowing what to expect due to regulatory uncertainty can only aggravate the unavoidable incertitude of our present real world. Chaos shall bow to the writs of the law so legal certainty shall rule over risks and uncertainty of our new uncertain times.

Salvador Rodríguez Artacho
Partner at Hernández-Echevarría Abogados

After the Pandemic

After the Pandemic

On 22 April our Corporate member Ie University organised in colaboration with the Spanish Chambers of Commerce network in Asia, an online seminar inviting Enrique Dans, Professor of Innovation at IE University.

What will the world look like after the pandemic? The question, increasingly, is no longer whether we will return to normal after the pandemic, but whether we really want to return to normal. Labor, the environment, the economy, education and healthcare are just five examples of things that should change after this crisis. Are we really sure that we want to go ‘back to normal’ after the pandemic? Did we like that ‘normality’ so much? And since we have managed to make a clean break with it… why not take advantage and move on to something better?

Professor Enrique Dans has a Bachelor in Science from Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, an MBA from Instituto de Empresa and a Ph.D. in Management Information Systems from UCLA.

Musings on technology, Covid-19 and the long term impact

Musings on technology, Covid-19 and the long term impact

Musings on technology, Covid-19 and the long term impact

The ongoing health crisis caused by the spread of Covid-19 has transformed almost overnight the way most of us engage with our company, colleagues, clients, friends or even our family. Country governments and corporate leaders are tackling the current events in the short term while considering the mid to longer term strategic changes required to handle a post Covid-19 society.

In most developed countries, including Japan, this pandemic has accelerated the acceptance of a working culture that provides greater flexibility to employees. These days, basically, most of us are working from home and many of us have changed our working hours, eliminating commute time while setting aside time during the “working day” to do things like chat with our family, take our pet out for a walk or have a virtual drink with friends.

Almost overnight, many companies increased massively their use of digital engagement solutions, accelerating by years their digital transformation journeys. Current solutions like WebEx, Zoom, TEAMS, Yammer or email have seen a dramatic increase of use. While it has created odd or funny situations (strange home decorations, children running in the background, too casual dress attire, etc.) for the most part, people have shown the ability to adapt and learn quickly. One important challenge for many of us, though, has been to learn how to mentally compartmentalize our living and working space, meaning, how to switch on and off from work while at home, since home is the new “office”.

The longer-term implications that this “new way” of working will have are yet to be seen. For example, how will Japan, a nation that is technologically advanced in some areas, like robotics, but which also does considerable amount of business over informal interactions, like dinner, drinks or Karaoke, look like once the pandemic is over? Will most people go back to work 9 to 5 in their offices as before or will the current way with flexible and remote working, be understood and widely accepted instead of frowned upon?

Furthermore, in a future potential society where the current level of digital engagement becomes the normal, what’s the future for retailers? Will they all close their physical shops except for a few flagship stores, move online and reduce massively their workforces? In hospitality, will restaurants become mostly an Uber-eats kitchen? In other industries with large human sales forces, what role will physical sales representatives have in an era where customers and stakeholders prefer to get information or place their orders online? Or, when it comes to health, will we finally embrace fully digital health services, therefore changing the role and priorities of the health care workers, such as doctors or nurses?

Many are the questions and few are the answers thus far. What are your thoughts on what will the future look like?

Javier Asenjo
Head of IT & Digital for Japan Business, Takeda Pharmaceuticals

Asia – Pacific Regional Economic Outlook – COVID-19

Asia – Pacific Regional Economic Outlook – COVID-19

The Asia Pacific Region is the most dynamic of the global economy with a stable high growth forecast. However, the lingering impact of the coronavirus outbreak raises the uncertainty in the area.

The Spanish Chambers of Commerce in Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Philippines and Singapore jointly organize a webinar for their members to better understand the respective countries’ economies in relation to CoVid-19.

Moderator

Barbara Apraiz, Executive Director, Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Philippines

Speakers

  • Cristina Teijelo, Economic and Commercial Counselor, Embassy of Spain to China (Hong Kong)
  • Fernando Hernández Jimenez-Casquet, Economic and Commercial Counselor, Embassy of Spain to Japan
  • Alejandro Nieto, Commercial Attaché, Embassy of Spain to South Korea
  • Pedro Pascual, Economic and Commercial Counselor, Embassy of Spain to Philippines
  • Jose Maria Blanco, Economic and Commercial Counselor, Embassy of Spain to Singapore

Event Details

Date: Tuesday, 21st April 2020
Place: Zoom Online Webinar
Time: 18:00 – 19:30 JST
Language: English
Members Only

Boletin CoVid-19

Boletin CoVid-19

Recopilación de los resúmenes elaborados por la Cámara de Comercio de España sobre las noticias generadas por las crisis del COVID-19, con información del Comité Técnico de Seguimiento y los cambios normativos publicados en el BOE.

JUN

MAY

ABRIL

MARZO

Cities & CoVid-19

Cities & CoVid-19

Cities & CoVid-19

The urbanization process we are experiencing today is unprecedented. In 1950, approximately 30% of the world’s population lived in cities. In 2000 the percentage of urban population was already 50%. According to certain solvents forecasts for 2025, about 70% of the world population will be urban. In the next 25 years nearly 2 billion people will be born or move to livein cities. This process is an extraordinary social, economic, infrastructural and environmental challenge, and also, a clear business opportunity of global dimension.


It is not just a quantitative process, cities are the nodes that articulate and organize the world economy, with a growing leadership role and without the commitment of cities, the principles of sustainable development and the continuity of the quality of life on the planet are unfeasible. For this reason, organizing the cities of the 21st century is one of the great questions of humanity.


In this challenging time of COVID-19, cities have been put again in the spotlight. Two main elements of global cities have been fundamental for the quick spread of the virus from Asia to Europe and then to America: connectivity and density of urban cores.


Global cities in develop countries are suffering the most in this initial stage of the pandemic, especially cities that have been successful most of them in attracting talent and positing themselves as the economic powerhouses of their respective countries. It has been very interesting how dense Asian cities such as: Singapore, Seoul, Hong Kong are trying to be very successful to tackle this initial phase outbreak with the use of technology.
The application of technology in cities constitutes a massive opportunity to rethink our cities and create cities that are not only more resilient to sanitary shocks or economic shocks but also more human cities.

Source: https://www.againstcovid19.com/singapore/cases

In this regard this sanitary crisis has provided an opportunity to understand better urban ecosystem and how technology and innovation, occur at the intersection between different disciplines, in the nodes of physical and virtual confluence.
Cities that pretend to be successful in the future will be the ones that strike a smart balance between the different elements of the urban trilogy: economic competitiveness, social cohesion and environmental sustainability and acknowledge the power of technology, and applications derived of artificial intelligence to ensure prosperity and higher quality of life for its citizens.

Alfonso Vegara Gorroño
Associate Director of Future Cities Research Fundacion Metropoli

Online Education towards New Normal

Online Education towards New Normal

Online education towards New Normal

Prior to the lockdown in Madrid, IE University has quickly moved all classes into online format early in March and since then, we reserve academic continuity through online classes for all of our 7,000 students. In Japan too, switching to remote work is considered as the fastest way to control the spread of virus infections. There are several important points in using online tools to educate and train your people. The biggest challenge of online classes is to keep class participants focused. Some of the latest technologies such as face recognition and big data analysis would allow professor to conduct a class while keeping track of the concentration of students in real time. However, what if you don’t have such technology tool available in your hand right now? You can still make your class better engaged and relevant with just some simple tips.

  • Look into the camera instead of the screen when talking
  • Ask questions as frequently as possible, and use raise-hand and/or chat functions to increase opportunities for participants to give feedbacks
  • If voting-function is available, try to use that too occasionally
  • Don’t overestimate digital literacy of participants. Announce “House Keeping Rules” at the beginning of the online session to ensure everyone is familiarize how to use functions

One of the most challenging parts of online education is conducting exams. To administer an exam online, you may need to reassess what kind of abilities of your students the exam should test. For example, in the traditional format that tests students’ memorization, students may search for answers on Google during the test even if they’re monitored through camera. Thus, evaluating different abilities other than students’ memory could change the purpose of education itself, and simultaneously, because education should change, so should formats of exam.

Running exams online with trust between both parties while ensuring fraud prevention may be largely helped by the latest technology tools. In this regard, you may refer to the article on his detailed practices which Professor Enrique Dans from IE University has contributed to Forbes.

Learning experience is not just about classes and exams. Remember, besides participating in online classes, students should work on group assignments virtually, therefore their perseverance, virtual teaming capability and creativity are required more than ever. Therefore, performance evaluation system will be necessary to incorporate not only quality of their final deliverables but also other elements such as students’ peer-to-peer evaluations. The same thing may apply not only to educational institutions but also to companies where many employees work from home. Change our perspective to get prepared for the New Normal. I feel this is the most necessary attitude for now.

Kaoru Iino
Japan Country Director at Ie University

Freeze the deal, Freeze the contract

Freeze the deal, Freeze the contract

Freeze the deal, Freeze the contract

It goes without saying that the Covid-19 pandemic is a sanitary crisis. The emphasis should be -obviously- on saving lives in the first place. Secondly, on guaranteeing good health conditions of the population, in particular, of those belonging to risks groups. Adopting all possible necessary measures to stop the spread of the disease and control its devastating effects shall become also a necessity. As a consequence of all of the above, constrain civil rights and liberties including stopping economic activities has been considered as an unavoidable sacrifice in the balancing of interest mechanism of democratic systems all around the world, including Spain and Japan.

This paralysis of economic activities indicates a variety of legal consequences and effects to almost any legal entity. From partners in commercial projects, or parties in contracts, to litigation actors, not to mentions public administrations, authorities, large corporations or individuals in their daily life legal relationships. Accordingly, Spain and Japan have been forced to, on an exceptional basis, declare the state of alarm (Spain) and the state of emergency (Japan) substantiated on Constitutional grounds and principles. New laws and regulations needed to be promulgated with the main purpose of protecting legal and economic relations under a crisis status, with the rule of law and legal certainty as benchmarks for legislative actions.

Under this unprecedented scenario, legal advisers, acting with sensibility and empathy towards their clients, should be aware of legal problems and threats directly or indirectly related to the consequences of the Covid-19 crisis. Here is where the timing element plays a crucial role. Even if denouncing contracts for infringement, formally unilateral withdrawal or formal claim could come at first as apparently easy and rapid attainable responses, they might not be the best of all options. In the current situation, the wisely adopted “Tokyo 2020 in 2021” conclusion seems to be, by large, the win-win solution for all parties involved, when and if analogy applies. It is not Olympics cancellation but rather Olympics deferment.  Put in simple terms, do as if this period of standstill had not existed at all, for all interested parties at stake and transpose all rights and obligations to a later time. In those legal relationships in which freezing the deal or freezing the contract works as a credible solution due to the supervening cause of force majeure, parties will do well constantly to maintain the current status of legal obligations as it is.  This is also the solution laying behind the official suspension of deadlines ordered to all administrative and judicial procedures. If we can freeze the deals, the contracts and the procedures, we will all do as if this period had never legally existed, under the bona fide principle between commercial parties, which apply to Japanese and Spanish companies with common interests. With hope and commitment, the same or maybe new challenges that lay ahead of us, would be dealt with the same productive way, but just in future better times.  

Salvador Rodríguez Artacho
Partner at Hernández-Echevarría Abogados

Online CEO round table Discussion

Online CEO round table Discussion

As the COVID-19 pandemic is globally expanding and having economic and financial impacts, the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Japan organized an online CEO round table Discussion to offer a suitable atmosphere where the CEOs & Managing Directors of our Corporate members could exchange information and ideas.

Atendants: Amadeus Japan, Chanel, CVNE, Dorna, Franchir, Freixenet Japan, Grupo Antolín, Hernandez-Echevarria, IE University, Igenomix Japan, J. García Carrion, Mormedi, Novajika, Orto Group, Solan de Cabras, Solarig, Videl Golosinas, Yoitabi Travel.

Event Details

Date: Wednesday, 13 May 2020
Place: Microsoft Teams
Time: 17:00 – 18:30 JST
Language: English
Corporate Members Only

Pandemics, Crises and Japan

Pandemics, Crises and Japan

Pandemics, crises and Japan

On February 14 this year, Japan saw its first local infection from the CoVid-19 virus. It has only been a bit over six weeks, but already seems like a world away. Every country has had its own way of facing the reality of this pandemic. This has been a sudden refresher of high school algebra: the expansion on an epidemic follows the exponential function, while our brains are more geared to understanding linear increases or decreases. It has also been a refresher in the economic theory of the “tragedy of the commons” where what is best for an individual (get on with your life normally) is not aligned with the common good (prevent transmission).

In this kind of situation, strong government leadership is essential for individuals and businesses to know where they stand and take proper measures. But we are not seeing much leadership or clarity in the world in general and Japan is not an exception.

It helps to remember previous crises. The 1973 oil shock, the 1995 Great Hanshin earthquake, the 2011 Fukushima crisis all followed a pattern of bad initial responses. Eventually things worked out through great sacrifice. Muddling through crises seems to be the norm in Japan, in sharp contrast with the image of a highly organized system and society.

As of today, companies are still navigating conflicting announcements and messages from local and national government leaders. It is difficult and stressful, but it helps to remember some basic ideas: take measures to protect the health of employees, partners and customers. Take measures to ensure there is enough cash to survive the worst of the crisis. Then, start thinking about the post-crisis world, which may bring a sharp recession in many industries. Companies will need to keep a sharp focus on the basics, fresh thinking, flexibility and anticipation.

At the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Japan, we want to engage all our members to help each other think through and make good decisions through the crisis. We will be posting ideas and thoughts over the next few days. We look forward to your comments. Thank you for reading!

Guillermo Gutierrez
President, Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Japan