~ How to utilize the EPA ~ Practical business webinar with a Q & A format

Two years have passed since the Japan-EU EPA came into effect in February 2019. On February 1, 2021, the number of food and drink products protected by geographical indications (GIs) – a distinctive sign used to identify a product whose quality, reputation or other such characteristics relate to its geographical origin – was expanded, and a part of the procedures for exporting vehicles was simplified.

Japan and the EU have updated some aspects of the EPA and its procedures to make it easier for companies to use it.

On the other hand, for the past two years, some Japanese companies have faced practical challenges, such as certificates of origin (self-certification) not always being recognised by the national customs service in the EU, even though they were using the EPA scheme when exporting to the EU.

To solve those issues, focusing on exports from Japan to the EU, Tokyo Kyodo Accounting Office (TKAO), which has an EPA consultation desk commissioned by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) on the Japanese side and the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Taxation and the Customs Union (DG TAXUD) which is the authority managing, defending and developing the EU’s customs strategy, customs procedures and customs controls, will explain how to make good use of the EPA scheme in a Q & A format based on the experience of, and examples from, the past two years.

  1. Date and time

Thursday, March 4, 2021 17:00-18:45 Japan time (09:00-10:45 in Belgium)

  1. Languages

Japanese & English (simultaneous interpretation)

  1. Program
  • Presentation 17: 00-17: 40

Mr. Makoto Goto, EPA consultation desk counselor

Tokyo Kyodo Accounting Office (EPA consultation desk commissioned by METI)

  • Presentation 17: 40-18: 20

   Mr. Albert Hendriks, Team Leader - Preferential origin - Coordination and negotiation

DG TAXUD, European Commission

  • Q & A session 18: 20-18: 45
  1. Participation fee


  1. Registration

This webinar will be conducted through Zoom. Please book your place via this Zoom link: ZOOM

  • Please ensure that you have downloaded the Zoom app to your PC / tablet / smartphone before viewing this webinar as you will not be able to listen to the interpretation if you connect through your browser.
  1. Asking questions and access to event material.

1) You can either submit your questions in advance, when registering for the event, or during the event, using the chat function in your smartphone or PC Zoom app. Please note that for various reasons (e.g., lack of time) we may not be able to get answers to every question.

2) Please apply for the lecture materials when you fill out the evaluation questionnaire after the event.

  1. Organizer:

EU-Japan Centre for Industrial Cooperation (Head Office in Japan and Office in Europe)

  1. Inquiries

EU-Japan Centre for Industrial Cooperation / Mr. Sasaki

Email: ko.sasaki@eu-japan.or.jp

Overview of dismissal procedure in Italy

The economical crisis brought by Covid-19 is putting big attention on the topic of employee dismissal.
Generally speaking, foreign investors consider that the Italian regulation is not favorable to the company’s side when it’s time to deal with the dismissal of employees.
However, the situation has changed positively from 2012 with the first important reform (so-called Riforma Fornero) and it is further improved in 2014 with the entrance in force of the so-called Job Act.
With this article, we would like to give an overview of the main aspects related to the dismissal cases due to justified objective reasons (not related to employee behavior), such as possible consequences after the Covid-19 crisis.

1. Overview

The Italian Law grants the possibility to the companies to dismiss employees for justified objective reason (giustificato motivo oggettivo in Italian, so called g.mo.), both for individual and for collective cases.
First of all let's see what is the meaning of justified objective reason: the legal basis is contained in article 3 of Law 604 of 1966 and it states that dismissal can occur for reasons inherent to the business activity, work organization, and its regular functioning.

The most important cases of justified objective reason are:

A) Crisis of the company due to economic situation The company must be able to demonstrate the actual existence of the crisis. For example, a reduction of the income and a reduction of the purchase orders, if it can be demonstrated through documents, are suitable reasons for “g.m.o” dismissing. The consequence of the crisis must be the need for the company to cancel the position that the worker has.

B) The termination of the activity (company closure)
This hypothesis is considered one of the situations in which the dismissal for justified objective reason is legitimate and it has always been confirmed by the Italian Supreme Court (Corte di Cassazione, the highest judicial body in Italy).
In case of company closure, the employer has in fact no choice but to dismiss all workers.

C) Loss of the tasks to which the worker is assigned
The dismissal due to an organizational rearrangement that involves a redistribution of the employee's tasks is considered legitimate. The employer can dismiss for a reorganization that increases the efficiency and productivity of the company, even if the company is not in crisis, as long as the redistribution of the tasks is the cause of the dismissal.

Important: duty to consider the so-called “repêchage” (this is a French word that we use in Italian labor law).
This term refers to the obligation of the employer to check, before dismissing, whether the worker can be used to perform different tasks at the same level or even at a lower level of his actual tasks. It is essential to make this analysis.
In fact, in the event of a lawsuit, the judge always checks whether the employer has made this attempt.
If the employer can prove that the worker could not be used in a different position, the dismissal will be legitimate.
So, repêchage is a fundamental element to see if the dismissal is fully legitimate or not.

In conclusion, we can generally summarize that dismissal for a justified objective reason, to be fully legitimate, must fall within the cases A, B, C listed above, and pass the verification of the repêchage duty.

2. General procedure

We have to examine two cases: (1) Individual dismissal
(2) Collective dismissal

(1) Individual dismissal
It occurs in all the cases where the collective procedure does not apply, therefore when less than 5 workers are dismissed within 120 days.
How the dismissal is communicated to the employee?

- Company must send to the local labor authority of the place where the employee works a communication containing the intention to proceed with the dismissal and its reasons. Then, a meeting with the company and the employee will be done to try to find an agreement on the dismissal.

- The procedure can be concluded with an agreement between the parties that avoid the termination of the employment relationship or which provides for a consensual termination.

- If an agreement is not reached, the employer can then proceed with the written communication of the dismissal.

(2) Collective dismissal
It occurs when the company that has more than 15 employees intends to dismiss 5 or more workers within 120 days, as a consequence of reduction or transformation of the activity or when it intends to close the activity.
The number of five employees to be dismissed can be the first intention of the company, then it can dismiss fewer people but it must follow in any case the collective procedure.
The collective procedure involves the participation of the union. The union will see if the reasons provided by the company are legally valid.
This procedure is more complicated than individual dismissal but it could be the best option if a company wants strongly to reduce the number of employees or even close the activity.
In this way, the company faces a unique procedure to dismiss a high number of employees at the same time.
It is very important to check the following requirements to decide the employees to dismiss:
- Family situation: easier to dismiss a person without a family than who has family
- Seniority: easier to dismiss a younger worker
- Business needs: it is important to pay attention to these criteria. The company must be able to demonstrate that a certain position is no longer useful due to the crisis and subsequent reorganization.

These criteria must apply to all workers in the company. Not just those from a specific department.

Dismissal is a delicate theme and each case has specific procedures according to the dismissal nature. Thus, in case the company has to face this issue we highly recommend consulting suitable professionals to make appropriate steps.

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Social Media Marketing: how the strategy has changed following the pandemic

What will the social media world look like after the pandemic? As we have learned so far in 2020, it is not possible to ever be 100% prepared for the future. It is important to try to predict trends, strategize and plan, but we have to be flexible and ready to shift marketing and business strategies at any time, especially regarding social media.

The impact of the pandemic on the marketing landscape has certainly been of considerable intensity. Many things have changed: our life habits, the way we relate, the way we work. Due to this, it is easy to imagine how the business world has also suffered severe shocks. However, in this particular situation, we have witnessed a very rapid evolution in recent months of the digital transformation, with the use of new communication channels.

The strategies have changed to better adapt to the new tools, and the way in which companies communicate with their customers has become more digital. People have spent much more time indoors than before, feeling the need to feel connected to the world to some extent. For these reasons, numerous aspects related to social media marketing have been reviewed and updated. Investing in social media has therefore also become necessary for companies, which have thus had the need to seize all the opportunities offered by the digital transformation, perhaps underestimated before.

In a short time, 2020 has managed to give life to a completely new lifestyle and to create a set of new rules for everyone. From COVID-19 to the Black Lives Matter movement, brands and social media marketers find themselves making adjustments, large and small, to their original strategies. It became fundamental to analyze social media marketing strategy in perspective of the latest events and necessarily set the direction. Moreover, social commitment and empathy will be the keywords of the future, and it is an important part of the strategy changing the way of using social media.

Social media today represents an essential element for any activity: before COVID-19, the path was already traced, and the pandemic did nothing but accelerate and optimize certain processes already in place. Today, it is impossible to think of marketing processes without the support of social media, which have now forcefully entered the life of each of us.

Therefore social media communication and the use made of it are really important in the future of all kinds of companies.

The best producers of high quality oil finally collected in a guide

The “JOOP SELECTION 2016” guide, which is curated by the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Japan, will be soon available. The guide, in English and Japanese, will be distributed on line and will be an important resource for the members of the Chamber as well as restaurant managers and olive oil importers in Japan.

This guide reports about 50 high quality extra virgin olive oils coming from all the world. They are the ones who obtained almost 7 of 10 points at JOOP 2016 - Japan Olive Oil Prize.

The news of JOOP 2016 edition is that awards were assigned according to the taste (strong, medium, light) and the scent (tomato/tomato leaf, green almond, artichoke/herbs/olive leaf).

JOOP  is the event held by the Chamber that turned the IV edition last June: the 9th of June winners had been proclaimed. The panel of jurors consisted of 9 experts coming from Italy, USA, Spain and Turkey, who selected winners among 155 olive oils entered in the competition

JOOP is a great opportunity to spread the culture of the olive oil in Japan. Not only by the acknowledge of the best producers but also thanks to the seminars held by important tasters and oil experts and finally by this precious and detailed guide book.