Japan’s government offices and many businesses marked their last working day of 2022 on Wednesday, with public health centers declaring a “desperate situation” amid an eighth wave of coronavirus infections, while some large companies they continued with the scandals.
“There is no holiday mood,” said Mieko Harada, who runs a public health center in Tokyo’s Chiyoda ward, adding that the center has been struggling to cope with the influx of patients with COVID-19 and to ensure sufficient hospital beds from mid-December. . .
“I hope this will be the last year we have to worry about the coronavirus,” said a senior official at the health ministry, which decided again this year to forego participating in New Year’s festivities.
Meanwhile, Japan’s biggest advertising agency, Dentsu Inc, remains embroiled in a major controversy over last year’s Tokyo Olympics, with its employees predicting a difficult year as it struggles to restore trust.
Former Dentsu executive and sports event organizing committee member Haruyuki Takahashi has been indicted four times in a far-reaching bribery scandal. The company has also been investigated for alleged bid-rigging for contracts related to test events for the Games.
“Since the scandals have shaken people’s confidence, just mentioning the company’s name is enough to invite resistance,” said one employee, who works in sports-related businesses.
The future of the industry was uncertain as the scandals also jeopardized plans such as Sapporo’s bid to host the 2030 Winter Olympics, the employee added.
Among other corporate failures, KDDI Corp, operator of the “au”-branded mobile phone service, suffered a network outage in July that affected more than 30 million people, with users unable to make calls emergency for an extended period.
“In order to provide stable services, we will improve operations through ways that include system monitoring using artificial intelligence,” a KDDI spokesperson said.
Instead, the Japanese imperial family wants to celebrate next year by holding its first public New Year greeting event in three years after cancellations due to the pandemic.
Princess Aiko, the only daughter of Emperor Naruhito, will also make her first appearance at the Jan. 2 event held at Tokyo’s Imperial Palace.
“While we are taking sufficient infection control measures, we want it to be a good start to the New Year,” said a senior official at the Imperial Household Agency.