JAPAN FIRMS REVIVE PACKAGE TOURS TO HAWAII
Travel companies in Japan have begun selling package tours to Hawaii for the first time in about two years. The islands are one of the most popular foreign destinations for Japanese tourists, but the tours have been suspended since early in the pandemic.
Travel agency JTB began taking bookings Friday, with departures from April 28. Airline group ANA Holdings is also jumping back in. Their first flights leave a day later.
The Japanese government lowered its travel warning for the United States earlier this month from “Avoid all travel” to “Avoid non-essential travel.”
Officials from the Japan Association of Travel Agents visited Hawaii and concluded that the state was ready to accept tourists again.
Tourism companies say they hope to resume tours to Europe and other regions if infection situations allow.
FINLAND, SWEDEN DRAW CLOSER TO NATO
Leaders in Finland and Sweden have chosen to keep their countries non-aligned since World War II. But what they’ve seen in Ukraine has prompted them to reconsider.
The leaders met in Stockholm to discuss their countries’ relationship with NATO. Finland and Sweden are partners with the alliance, but not part of it.
(Sanna Marin / Finnish Prime Minister)
“The change in the security landscape makes it necessary to analyze how we best secure peace for Finland and in our region in the future.”
Finns and Russians share a border. Marin says members of parliament will debate and decide “within weeks” whether to apply for NATO membership.
(Magdalena Andersson / Swedish Prime Minister)
“We have to really think through what is best for Sweden and our security and our peace in this new situation.”
Many Swedes aren’t convinced. But Andersson and Marin agree there’s no other way to have such security guarantees “than under NATO’s deterrence.”
NISSAN ACQUIRES FORMULA E RACING TEAM
Japan’s Nissan Motor has acquired a French race team that participates in the Formula E championship, known as “F1 for electric vehicles.”
Nissan said Tuesday it has taken full ownership of the e.dams team. They have been partners since 2018, when Nissan became the first Japanese carmaker to take part in Formula E.
The company says it’s strengthening collaboration with the team to help it achieve its strategy of electrifying all new vehicle offerings by early next decade in key markets.
All EVs feature quiet, smooth acceleration, making it difficult for automakers to differentiate their models in terms of ride comfort and handling.
Nissan said it aims to transfer its expertise and technology from the racetrack to the development of better EVs for customers.
GERMANY WOULD SUFFER RECESSION IF RUSSIAN GAS CUT OFF
Leading economic institutes in Germany are warning that Europe’s biggest economy would experience a deep recession if it stops importing natural gas from Russia.
The joint forecast comes from the Ifo Institute and four other research bodies. They say Germany’s economy would lose a total of 220 billion euros, or roughly 240 billion dollars, by the end of next year in case the gas supplies are shut off. The loss is equivalent to more than 6.5 percent of Germany’s annual gross domestic product.
German officials have been discussing a possible embargo of Russian gas as part of tougher sanctions against Moscow.
The institutes also believe that German GDP will grow only by 1.9 percent this year and contract by 2.2 percent in 2023.
JAPANESE SCHOOL SATCHELS USE MORE RECYCLED MATERIALS
Japanese elementary school children have used traditional box-shaped backpacks for over a century. The satchels, called “randoseru,” are usually made of leather or synthetic materials. But now recycled materials are increasingly being used, and demand is strong.
The new lineup currently hitting the stores is for children who will start school next year. Tokyo-based startup Ranaos makes its “randoseru” with polyester recovered from used clothing. It weighs about 980 grams, much lighter than leather satchels.
Since it went on sale last month, orders have been more than three times higher than the monthly average for last year’s version.
An eco-friendly satchel made by another Tokyo-based firm, Ikeda Chikyu, is also attracting demand. The company uses recycled plastic bottles to make polyester, which is then processed to give it a leather-like texture.