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COVID-19: An ESSEC Alumnus Reports From Japan

Interviews

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19/06/2020

Japan lifted the state of emergency in most of its prefectures. However concerns remain – and the economic outlook seems dire, says Laurent Wolff (E91), President of ESSEC Alumni’s Japan Chapter

ESSEC Alumni: What is the current situation in Japan? How does this situation impact you on a daily basis - personally and professionally? 

Laurent Wolff: State of emergency was declared on April 7, just after Tokyo Olympics postponement was announced. There are however no legal constraints attached to it. The contamination level remains limited, compared with Europe – 18 200 people and 950 casualties for a population twice that of France. The highest daily contamination amounted to 743, on April 10, and it has remained under 200 since May 3rd,, and under 100 since May 16. Public schools had been closed since March, at least in Tokyo area, entertainment facilities such as movie theaters and concert halls also had closed, and cultural facilities. Since early June the voluntary confinement measures are being lifted, and life is gradually going back to normal. 

Another flagship measure was the attribution of 100 000 JPY (about 800 euro) for each family member, to alleviate revenue loss. The government asked for social distancing, and for social interaction to be reduced by 80%, but this was hardly achieved. A lot of decision power is given to local authorities, and the governor of Tokyo took a much stronger stance, but with little more possibility to implement, except for city-run facilities. 

We have seen a tremendous increase in teleworking, which impacted both my team and myself, in a positive way. There are also some good aspects here, and some savings in internal meetings. But overall the outlooks are grim, as in other countries, with strong impact on in-bound tourism, which became a major source of income for a number of regions, and on an industry which is exporting a lot.

EA: How is the post-crisis period shaping up in Japan? 

L. Wolff: As in other countries, government plans public spending to support companies, with a focus on small and medium-sized businesses, and the tourism related industry, as illustrated by the Goto campaign launched by the government to support domestic travel. The crisis impact will remain strong for the industry, including automotive, and for tourism and travel related businesses. Crisis will linger for some time, and people behaviour will probably be impacted on the long run.

EA: What news from the local ESSEC community in this context? 

L. Wolff: We all have been rather busy, and we had to cancel a major event in March. News have thus remained limited in the meantime – I am not so focused on organizing Zoom parties, I still prefer face-to-face -, but hopefully we will be up and running shortly again. In the meantime, new people have joined the local network, even from France, and the local ESSEC Alumni LinkedIn community.


Interview by Veary Ngy, International Community Manager at ESSEC Alumni, and Louis Armengaud Wurmser (E10), Content Manager at ESSEC Alumni 

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Image: © Su San Lee on Unsplash

 



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