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Five ways the pandemic is affecting businesses in Japan, for better or worse:

  • When Japan announced a state of emergency earlier this year, people were urged to declutter their homes to pass the time, with Tokyo’s governor even roping in household-organizing celebrity Marie Kondo in promotional videos. Many have taken that message to heart and the market for secondhand luxury goods is booming as a result, Reuters reports.
  • Among the many service businesses in Japan that have fallen upon hard times due to the pandemic are photo portrait studios. As Mark Schreiber notes in Big in Japan, they’ve even had to think up new special occasions to stay afloat. No such problem for pet shops, though, where business is booming as people seek furry friends to stay home with.
A Sumitomo Mitsui Bank employee hands out a paper slip with a QR code that will allow a customer to withdraw cash at the ATM, on Tuesday at its Chuorinkan branch in Yamato, Kanagawa Prefecture. | KAZUAKI NAGATA
A Sumitomo Mitsui Bank employee hands out a paper slip with a QR code that will allow a customer to withdraw cash at the ATM, on Tuesday at its Chuorinkan branch in Yamato, Kanagawa Prefecture. | KAZUAKI NAGATA
  • While withdrawing or transferring cash through a bank teller may already seem old-fashioned, it could completely disappear in Japan within a few years as banks revamp their branches to adapt to the digital age, reports Kazuaki Nagata. And it’s a change that’s being accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • After taking a severe hit from COVID-19, firms in the sharing economy are exploring new opportunities, looking to offer services that help people avoid in-person contact with others, thereby lowering the risk of contracting the virus. As Jiji reports, their small workforces and limited facilities have been a help rather than a hindrance, allowing them to be flexible and nimble in their efforts to survive.
  • Working from home has been a challenge this year, with one online meeting after another replacing face-to-face conversations on an almost daily basis. No doubt many of us have faced embarrassing moments during online meetings over the course of the year. With 2020 fast coming to a close, Kaori Shoji takes a look back at some particularly excruciating experiences reported in Japan this year.

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