Global businesses start to shun Japan over growing outbreak

Nikkei -- Feb 20
Multinational companies are avoiding travel to and from Japan over fears the country could be the next hot spot in the coronavirus outbreak.

Luxury fashion house Prada has postponed its first-ever fashion show in Japan scheduled for May 21. "This decision was made as a precautionary measure as well as an act of responsibility and respect for all the people working on and planning to attend" the show, the Italian brand said Tuesday.

Prada is eager to tap rising demand for luxury goods in Asia, and held a menswear show in Shanghai in June. It considers Japan a strategic market, and plans to look into a new date and venue after assessing the impact of the coronavirus.

The decision came as a World Health Organization report published Tuesday placed Japan's coronavirus patient count at 65 -- the highest in the world after China and Singapore.

There are also signs of a push to limit travel not only to, but also from, Japan. "We are seeing companies in several countries besides China, such as India, that are refusing business trips from Japanese partners," Japan Foreign Trade Council Chairman Kuniharu Nakamura told reporters Wednesday.

"This reminds us again of the severity of the impact," he said.

Experts worry that Japan could face an increase in homegrown cases that cannot be traced back to a specific patient. Coronavirus infections have been confirmed across the country, from Hokkaido in the north to Okinawa in the south.

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