Hopefully this message finds you all well.
Firstly, I would like to appreciate everyone regarding cooperation to prevent this coronavirus spread.
Many people may have felt that Japan so far has been one of the safest places among the developed countries. I agree with this to some extent, however, after the Tokyo governor Koike’s request for a mild form of “lockdown” this weekend, I feel it’s time to sum up my deliberate thoughts to everyone.
The decision to sum up my thoughts to everyone owes to some LPs being honest to tell me their thoughts.
Under this kind of uncertainty (with limited local information in English), the fear of losing place for work, income, visa, and more importantly, the lives of the loved ones and yourself, has developed unprecedentedly, and it is worth being frank with each other regardless of the position to overcome this worldwide crisis together.
Currently, the Japanese government has been one of the most lagged nations when it comes to economic assistance to individuals and businesses. Unfortunately, as far as looking at everyday discussion at the diet, I have come to conclude that we cannot count on them (unless the worsened situation forces them to). Not a joke, but you’ll be surprised that they are now discussing fish, beef, and sushi coupons to us in order to help those industries.
Closing on the 28th and 29th
After Koike’s requests to all businesses and individuals for a mild form of non-compulsory “lockdown” those two days, we decided to close our schools for two days. In the case of possible future compulsory lockdown (like typhoons or earthquakes), there’s nothing we can do but to expect the government to compensate us all. However, in this case, it was still not a governmental order yet so we will compensate for people working those two days related to the already booked slots (not non-booked slots) before the announcement.
General thoughts since this January to March
Many lesson partners went through dropping number of lessons, which became noticeable from February and obvious since this March.
That’s true with majority of industries across all sectors worldwide.
Honestly, I have been anticipating this world crisis since the beginning of January (though hoping it was merely an overanxiety).
That is why we started the development of online stuff far in advance despite the huge costs associated with it.
As the stage of this crisis develops to uncertainty, it is very difficult to expect the same as usual (our sales dropped more than 60% in March and will continue to decline more in the next few months). I was in a panic at the beginning, but after I decided to accept a huge losses, I feel better now.
Life and sustaining work in Japan comes first
Though we all hope for no further stricter governmental force to “compulsory lockdown” the cities, looking at overseas big cities like NY, London, or Paris, the possibility of the same happening here becomes much higher. (You see, Japanese government usually cannot make its own decision, but follow others).
Already millions of people already started to lose jobs overseas, and as the situation gets worse, the same thing will take place here (it has already started in some sectors). With this in mind, my mission to everyone at this stage is to avoid terminating contracts, and provide a place to work and sustain your life in Japan, while working with the politicians to decide economic packages likewise in the US or EU nations (as a macro economics lover, I really envy those nations being decent to consider such amazing economic packages. Both fiscally and monetally, it is the right decision. I hope we don’t get beef and fish coupons in Japan.).
In order for us to keep our operation running while to minimize the damages to our business financially, instead of touching jobs, I discussed with all of our building owners, business partners, also my salary as well, to drastically cut first while discussing with our banks for just in case of emergency loans. Some of the discussions are still undergoing, but mostly completed by late March)
As of now, though it’s hard for all of us to expect enough lesson bookings, we so far have tried to open more shifts than the expected number of lessons, hoping this could do something to cushion the effect on lesson partners’ income. As of now, this could be something we can do in our efforts to minimize your damage (I’m OK with non-teaching slots at this time, hoping some blog entries though!), and also I would expect everyone to minimize spending at this time for a long term siege. We continue to monitor the government’s response to the situation and will seek out any possible compensation or assistance to help you to deal with the crisis.
Under this uncertainty, you may also have a fear of losing your visa.
I would like to commit to you all that I am willing to assist everyone regarding the procedure even during the possible lockdown extended period and work with the Immigration.
Should the process be stagnant, I am also willing to call and write a special petition paper with my signature for an expedited process to the Immigration.
Possible future official “lockdown” etc
We all face the financial impact this situation will have on us already. To the best of our efforts, b has attempted to keep schools open and lesson partners working as much as is possible, again attempting to cushion your financial damages. At the same time, an official directives from the government cannot be ignored so the schools will necessarily be closed should a “lockdown” be imposed.
Assuming the possible official compulsory lockdown, regarding April shift specifically you already committed, I am considering to keep your current shifts opened regardless of a possible lockdown and will take care of non-teaching slots. This could be something we could consider as of now without having governmental aid to all of us. Hope this could help you keep minimum income to sustain your life. (Also note that this is for an event of official lockdown case, and should the schools be opened, we will do likewise in March as it will provide better income to you.). In the event of the compulsory lockdown and being forced to stay home, you might also want to do other works to add your income. Should online lessons be booked, I would ask you for the same quality lesson as usual:), but you can allocate your time for other extra works if you would like.
Regarding online teaching
The online teaching solution, while only a stopgap at this point, is functional and remains an option we have on the table.
The primary intent is to allow business operations and lesson partners to continue to generate some limited income (while keeping our schools open and use the tool there). We did initial research with members (about 120 members) with regard to the demand and 54.6% of members showed interest (better than expected considering their ages), but we do not expect nor intend it to match the level of business of our normal operations. We are running a business with the school operations, so this is just a backup. If you expect more with online, definitely companies solely focusing on this provide better solutions.
We have been implementing more rigorous cleaning routines since mid January, and have promoted masks, hand washing, sanitizing, and gargling as a protection measure. We also did our best to obtain enough alcohol and masks from overseas before they became scarce there (we have enough alcohol for the next 3-4 months).
We supplied additional masks at each school in case to allow LPs and members to wear them if necessary. We continue to do so and expect everyone to do their part by following the recommendations of the government health ministry and global health organizations.
We had already requested all members to cooperate with us and refrain from not coming should they feel unwell, and also told that we may request to leave if we feel their health conditions are not adequate to attend. That said, in general members are as concerned as lesson partners and concierge staff, and are putting in the same efforts to protect themselves and others as we are. If you feel that your member’s condition is not adequate for attendance, please do not hesitate to ask concierges.
We have developed a website solely for members requesting cooperation since late February.
Well, that’s all for now and sorry for the lengthy message – and again, as the situation fluctuates so quickly and I will continue to update you all.