Also, the Japanese healthcare system was never under the same pressure as in many other countries.
Is Japan going back to business as usual?
We all know that the answer is no.
The biggest component of Japan's "New Normal" will be a Digital Transformation.
This of course was already part of the outlook of Japan's economy, but it never was as urgent as the pandemic has made it.
The economy of Japan deals with a lot of paper work even 20 years into the 21st century.
For example, it is still common for companies to use fax machines. Another example is that for approval processes a 稟議書 (ringisho) or circular form is used where each step up to the top management (for big projects) has to place his or her "personal seal" on the paper for the project to be approved.
This personal seal is also needed for identity verification at banks, for social benefits, insurances, taxes etc.
Business associations urge the government to digitalize administrative procedures like these to legitimize official documents.
This procedure is also one reason many office workers do no not feel comfortable working from home. But this is not the only reason.
Since work officially has a higher status in Japan than family (you only have a family because you have a job in the first place) there is a very strong sense of obligation to show up in the office no matter what. Co-workers are perceived as a second family and it is not rare that even private issues are discussed with them (but only after work with drinks). Not being in the office and not having face to face meetings with colleagues, means not being part of the family.
The term "Remote work" or "telework" has existed in Japan like anywhere else, but was never broadly accepted even in tech firms due to this cultural background.
But the Japanese government has officially recommended work from home to reduce the crowds in public transport especially in metropolitan areas of Japan.
Therefore a lot of companies are now considering how to digitalize their operations to make working from home as efficient as from the office. The US and Europe are more advanced in this aspect since remote work was more part of the economy in theses regions.
Another change the government made through the Ministry of Health was in the healthcare system.
By now telemedicine was not allowed for the first visit, but this restriction has been lifted due to the pandemic and is a big change for Japan.
So the pandemic has forced the Japanese government not only to talk about Digital Transformation, but to actually make changes and make things happen.
The introduction of 5G network technology (which expansion the government promotes with tax benefits) and the commencement of 6G discussions will further push Japan's Digital Transformation.
Japan has lifted the state of emergency and companies are increasing their business activities again. It has shown the resiliency of the country in crisis situation in general, but especially in this pandemic. Of course the impacts of the Coronavirus cannot be neglected, but will have to be embraced and are already embraced, leading to a Digital Transformation in Japan.
Who will be the driver of Japan's Digital Transformation?
Of course Japanese companies and the government will be key players in this process, but that is not all. There are new innovative technologies and services out there by non-Japanese businesses and Japan is looking those foreign businesses to be part of its transformation.
Is your business ready to be part of it?