Chambers of Commerce Across Japan Step In to Help Local Businesses Through Pandemic

Japanese chambers of commerce have gotten creative in their efforts to ensure local businesses have a chance of survival during crisis

Chambers of commerce help local businesses
A quiet street in Sapporo

Chambers of commerce and industry throughout Japan have implemented a variety of measures to help businesses in their local districts that are experiencing difficulty as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Chambers of commerce help producers left with stockpiles

The Sapporo Chamber of Commerce and Industry took action to assist producers in the region who were left with large quantities of goods when product fairs had to be cancelled because of the outbreak.

The chamber launched a website to promote and sell the local delicacies, such as cheese, sweets and agricultural and seafood products, that would have been featured at the fairs.

Within two weeks of the launch, the site had generated over ¥100 million in sales through online shopping and other routes. It has since been getting more than 10 requests for product listings per day.

With so many restaurants unable to serve customers in their premises due to COVID-19 restrictions, many have adapted to provide takeout options for their customers

Restaurants turn to takeout services

Also in Hokkaido, the Obihiro Chamber of Commerce and Industry has compiled a database of restaurants providing takeout services, which can be found on its Tsunagu Marche website.

With so many restaurants unable to serve customers on their premises due to COVID-19 restrictions, many have adapted to provide takeout options for their customers. French restaurant, Cardinal, created appetiser platters and course menus that people can order to eat at their homes.

“We are drawing up a delivery menu, such as one with Tokachi beef stewed in red wine,” owner Yoshihiro Kato said.

Young people at the Nanao Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Ishikawa Prefecture built two websites for people to order takeout meals from restaurants and cafes in the area – one for local residents and another for people outside the prefecture who want to order food from the district.

“Customers are posting (information about the sites) on social media, so we’re becoming more known,” said Nobuyuki Ota, one of the sites’ managers.

The Kobe Chamber of Commerce and Industry teamed up with a local television station to boost its outreach through the station’s website for supporting local businesses.

Helping hand with new employees

In Nagano Prefecture, the Shiojiri Chamber of Commerce and Industry is helping businesses to recruit new staff. So far, it has connected employees who were laid off when hotels were forced to close with a farmer who needs seasonal workers. The chamber said it has been contacted by many people, including students, who are looking for work.

At the Sendai Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Miyagi Prefecture, local restaurants are getting a much-needed helping hand from a crowdfunding initiative launched by young people in the area. In just three weeks, the fund raised around ¥25 – five times the initial goal of ¥5 million.

What about your area? Are restaurants and producers offering takeouts or selling their products online? Or have you noticed any crowdfunding initiatives to help your local businesses? Would love to hear about them.

"Otsumami" - a bite size snack:

Help for struggling business is taking many different forms during pandemic.

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