COVID-19 Situation in Japan

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     The COVID-19 pandemic has rocked the world over the past year and a half; the response in most countries has left a lot to be desired, to say the least. However, with the Olympics (supposedly) around the corner, one might bring themselves to ask how the host nation of this year’s festivities is handling their own response. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at some of the ways that Japan has been tackling its virus problem.

Independent Efforts

     The vast majority of Japan’s containment efforts have been done by the businesses that operate here. Due to the complexities of the Japanese legal system, official government mandates are few and far between; however, this has not stopped businesses with any amount of foot traffic from instating regulations of their own. Many businesses across the country have started requiring patrons to wear masks at all times and apply disinfectant to their hands at the front doors.

     Many stores have also implemented basic social distancing measures: stores like convenience stores have put stickers on the floors prompting customers to stand adequate distances apart, and restaurants have started closing off certain tables and bench seats so as to prevent diners from sitting too closely together.

     While not quite as effective, some smaller restaurants have also placed plastic dividers between seats to try to cut customers off from each other as much as possible. More serious measures also include front door temperature checks, which have become common in office buildings, schools, hospitals, and other places where infections could spread rather quickly.

Photo from 日本経済新聞

Government Response

     To be quite honest, the Japanese Government’s response has shown a lot of room for improvement. In recent times, the country has begun to enforce minor lockdowns, requiring businesses to close their doors by certain times of night. However, these lockdowns have come very late into the pandemic, largely starting over the winter, a year into the pandemic.

Photo from 日本経済新聞

     Additionally, the government was widely criticised for running the “Go To Travel” campaign, encouraging national tourism in the middle of 2020, a year into the pandemic. This was, to put it mildly, probably not the wisest decision, and Japan’s infection numbers have risen since the end of this campaign. The government has also decided not to allow foreign tourists into the country for the Olympics, which is likely for the best, though it has yet to make any announcements regarding cross-country tourism, which is generally seen as hazardous in a pandemic.

The Vaccine?

     Japan’s vaccination efforts are somewhat difficult to write about as there is not a whole lot of publicly available information around them, for the time being. 

Photo from NHK

     While the government has claimed in the past that mass vaccination of residents would begin this summer (with June being the targeted starting point); however, with May quickly passing us by and the news we have received about the rollout being largely uninspiring, it seems unlikely that most of us living here will be able to receive their vaccinations in the coming weeks.

     While Japan’s response may not be the most inspiring, there is reason to be optimistic. Though the numbers may be rising, they have not hit a number of confirmed cases comparable to other, less fortunate nations. However, while there is room for optimism, it is important to remain vigilant and to take precautions seriously. It is my hope that, until the majority of the population is vaccinated, we will all continue to remain cautious and conscientious so that casualties can be avoided wherever possible.

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