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Asia Minute: Fewer New Year’s cards from corporate Japan

coronavirus Outbreak Japan Daily Life new year 2022
Koji Sasahara/AP
A woman wearing a face mask to protect against the spread of the coronavirus walks in front of the new year's decoration in Tokyo, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2021. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

This is the first weekday of 2022 — but in many parts of the world, the New Year’s holiday stretches to include Monday. That includes Japan, where a different New Year’s tradition is on the decline.

In the New Year, many Japanese traditionally take a little while to settle back into the patterns of the workplace.

In the not too distant past, many businesses were closed for the first several days of January.

Now, more places are open — and there have been some other seasonal shifts — including with New Year’s cards, still popular with many families.

Tokyo Weekender reports they’ve grown in popularity over the time of the pandemic — rising sharply between 2019 and the end of 2020.

But for businesses, they’re on the decline.

Nippon Telegraph and Telephone is a telecommunications giant that’s been sending out New Year’s cards under the name of its top leadership since its founding as a state monopoly in the 1950s.

NTT continued after it was privatized in 1985, through the days of the bubble economy and into the digital age.

Jiji Press reports that all stopped this year — not only for NTT, but also for telecommunications firm KDDI.

And it’s not just in the technology world — Jiji says companies ranging from fire truck manufacturer Morita Holdings to real estate companies have abandoned the traditional New Year’s card.

Some companies cite environmental concerns — using too much paper — while others have said updating the database for changing addresses has just become too much work.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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