It has been almost a year since the pandemic started.
The numbers of new COVID-19 cases reported each day have increased more
than tenfold since  the first state of emergency was declared in April
last year.
The Japanese Government has declared the second state of emergency for
Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures in an attempt to curb the rise
in coronavirus cases on January 7th (As of February, it is extended to
other prefectures).
In the statement, Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide asked bars and
restaurants to be closed by 8 p.m. (What an early closing it is! Can
they make lives for themselves?) Residents were also asked to refrain
from non-essential outings after 8 p.m.
Companies were asked to encourage remote work and reduce the number of
staff in their offices by 70 percent.

CICC has introduced teleworking since the end of March in last year. Our
staff, including myself  comes to the office 2 days a week and work from
home 3 days a week. At first, I thought it was just a stopgap measure to
prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus and it would not last long.
But the pandemic has changed our workplace appearance.
And what is more, online meetings are now held twice a week.
I had been hearing for some time that online meeting was the wave of the
future. It was the first time for all of us to have meetings online last
spring. It took us a little time to be accustomed to it. Sometimes,
video stops in the meeting and never recovers again. I forgot to turn
off the speaker during an online meeting, and my soliloquies were heard
by the other participants.
But eventually we were able to organize a multilateral conference in the
form of webinar in December. The COVID-19 crisis served as a short-term
intensive course on how to hold conferences physically apart.
Not only that, it forced us to use the internet the way it was always
meant be used: to connect each of us, to share information and to
develop solutions to problems. Twice-a-week meetings give us opportunity
to share information and improve communications in our organization.

There are trying times and it’s difficult not to get pessimistic as we
listen to the news.
The outlook for economic indicators released by the government is grim.
The GDP growth rate was -28% in the second quarter of 2020. Many
bankruptcies have also been reported. This is especially true for
food-service industry. In total, 646 business enterprises in Japan went
bankrupt after the outbreak of the virus. In terms of industries, the
food-service industry experienced the highest number of bankruptcies at
110 cases as of October 2020.

Under these circumstances, one of restaurant chains are increasing their
sales through its innovations. The restaurant chain that operates many
Izakaya (Japanese style pubs) across the country has changed its Izakaya
to smokeless barbecue restaurants and prepared a breakfast menu, so
called “Early Morning Yakiniku”.
Before the crisis, I would never have thought of having Yakiniku(grilled
meat) in the morning.
The smokeless roaster is well ventilated, and there are also
single-person Yakiniku seats available to ensure that infection
prevention measures are perfect.
Here, too, the common belief that Yakiniku is grilled and eaten by many
people was overturned.

Once again, I was reminded of the saying, "Necessity is the mother of
The common sense of the past no longer applies in the face of survival.
I feel that we will see tremendous innovation in the post-COVID era.
I am scared of being left behind.

More than anything else, I hope that this crisis will end as soon as

SHIRAKURA Hiroko (Ms.)

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