To round things off, five examples of how the pandemic is proving to be a boon for some companies that are making the most of the new normal, while others are doing their best to keep calm and carry on:

  • Business jets are taking off in Japan as companies look to keep their workers off commercial planes to minimize the risk of infection. Companies that arrange charter flights are getting a growing number of inquiries, with one flight operator planning to increase its fleet size.
  • NEC has launched a facial recognition system that can identify people even when they are wearing masks. The technology firm had already been working on a system to meet the needs of allergy sufferers who wear masks when the COVID-19 pandemic prompted it to speed things up.
Japanese cheerleaders lift spirits | REUTERS
Japanese cheerleaders lift spirits | REUTERS
  • Japan’s imports of spaghetti hit a record high in 2020 as more people stocked up on staples that are easy to cook at home. Imports in the first 11 months of last year totaled 154,505 tons, already exceeding the previous annual record high of 138,037 tons, marked in 2017, by about 10%. Same for macaroni.
  • At the tail end of depressing 2020, a faint ray of hope could be found on social media. “There are some things to be thankful for amid the coronavirus pandemic,” @fuwarin wrote on Twitter. “For one thing, I don’t have to visit my in-laws.” Others, meanwhile, are realizing who their true friends are, writes Kaori Shoji in Japan Pulse, and making the most of a bit of “me time.”
  • Commuters got a pleasant surprise Thursday as a troupe of cheerleaders did their thing outside a Tokyo rail station in a bid to lift spirits ahead of the capital’s second state of emergency. “Let’s go, fight!” they shouted, face shields fogging up in the chilly weather as they waved gold pompoms.