(Yomiuri: March 20, 2015 – p.10)
In response to an attack by an armed group against a museum in Tunisia in North Africa, Japanese companies with business interests in North Africa and the Middle East are becoming nervous about security measures for their employees. This is because Islamic extremist organizations conduct terrorist attacks across national borders, although the amount of trade with Tunisia is not much.
According to the Ministry of Finance and the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), Japan exported automobiles and steel products to Tunisia during 2014 that amounted to 9.8 billion yen, while Japan imported tuna and other items from Tunisia that amounted to 15.8 billion yen.
There are around 10 Japanese companies operating in Tunisia, many of which don’t post Japanese resident employees to the country. The YKK Corporation that began its business of manufacturing and selling fasteners in 2002 has not issued instructions in particular such as retraining activities. The company will “first collect information and then discuss countermeasures” (the company’s public relations department). A spokesman for Toyota Tsusho Corporation, which sells automobiles in the capital of Tunisia, said, “Although restraining business trips to the country is not under consideration, we want to increase watchfulness.” Though the Hitachi Ltd. has no outlets in Tunisia, the company put the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ information on its intranet, calling for employees not to get unless it was absolutely necessary.
In response to the Japanese hostage case by an Islamic extremist group known as “Islamic State,” the main office of the Daiwa Securities Group Inc., has instructed each overseas resident employee to take safety measures. The Japan Petroleum Exploration Co., Ltd. (JAPEX) that pumps crude oil in Iraq has taken measures for overseas employees to be thoroughly watchful.
There are voices of concern heard in the domestic travel industry that “with terrorist attacks happening abroad frequently, people have the growing sense that no matter where they go, they will not be safe. This will lead to a decline in tourists” (a major travel agency).
In response to a terrorist attack in France and other incidents, both All Nippon Airways Co., Ltd (ANA) and Japan Airlines (JAL) have already issued instructions for beefing up security measures.
The utilization rate of flights for Europe that ANA increased from the previous year remained as low as 59.4% for January this year. A series of terrorist sattacks in France seems to be a factor in this low figure. The company says, “We will carefully monitor the impact of the latest incident.”