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Economic revitalization minister Daishiro Yamagiwa on Thursday asked the business community to further promote telework, in an effort to tackle the rapid spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Yamagiwa, who is in charge of the government’s coronavirus response, made the request during a teleconference with leaders of the country’s three major business lobby groups — the Japan Business Federation, or Keidanren, the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Japan Association of Corporate Executives, or Keizai Doyukai.

“We want businesses to think what they can do and how best they can handle the situation in terms of ensuring business continuity,” Yamagiwa said in the meeting.

The minister urged the business community to prepare business continuity plans centering on telework, with the aim of maintaining socioeconomic activities at a time when further spread of the variant is expected.

“We hope to make public advanced examples where companies are utilizing telework effectively, and hopefully spread such use of telework to other companies,” Yamagiwa said.

Meanwhile, the minister did not set any telework-related numerical targets for the business community to achieve, such as reducing the number of commuting workers by 70%, as he acknowledged that each company is operating under different circumstances.

During the meeting, Keidanren Chairman Masakazu Tokura said he called on the business group’s member companies to work out a business continuity plan that includes the use of telework.

At the same time, Tokura asked the government to shorten the COVID-19 quarantine period required for coronavirus close contacts, which is currently set at 14 days, saying that people should be allowed to return to society swiftly once they test negative for the virus.

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