How Is Japan Dealing with Coronavirus?

April 4, 2020 Juju Kurihara Lifestyle, news, politics Tags: , , , , , , , , 4 Comments

Yesterday, one of the biggest comedian in Japan, Ken Shimura passed away. He had a fever and difficulty breathing on the 19th, was hospitalised on the 20th and had a pneumonia, tested positive for coronavirus on the 23rd and moved to ICU on the 24th  with a heart-lung machine for breathing. He passed away six days after he was diagnosed the illness. 


Ken Shimura, English Lesson:




Japan has been showing relatively low number of people affected by coronavirus while South Korea has had an coronavirus overshoot as well as China. Why? What has Japan been doing? 


According to Toyokeizai’s COVID-19 Situation Report in Japan, there are 1,820 tested positive cases, 59 serious cases and 54 deaths on the 30th of March.


All of us know about Italy, Spain, Iran and the U.S. It’s scary how the new cases grow.


And now we wonder, how come Japan keeps going as if coronavirus is someone else’s problem? How is Japan dealing with coronavirus? 


After Japan has finally decided to postpone the Olympics, the Tokyo governor requested people to “stay at home” over the weekend. She emphasised that “cherry blossom will bloomed next year and we can do hanami again”. The result wasn’t so good, unlike the news report of NHK. To be fair, this is much less than usual years but still, there are enough people if you try to avoid a crowd.



Another surprising thing is, Pachinko shops keep opening and people are queuing to get in. While schools, theatres, department stores, nightclubs or hair salons are all closed, Pachinko shops, sex establishments and karaoke shops are not obliged to close the business. The reason is a political matter. Many politicians seem to support Pachinko industry as “advisers”. They insist that there are no cases at Pachinko shops and the establishments are clean and well ventilated.   


この中の一部の方々が商品券では家賃は払えないとか現金よこせとか言っているんだろうな?知らんけど#不要不急の外出自粛 #パチンコ#頑張ろう日本

An article says Japan has low cases because Japanese people are culturally not affectionate comparing to Italian or Spanish people who greet people with besos. As you may have experienced, Japan is famous for packed trains during rush hours and Shibuya crossings with waves of people, isn’t it? Is this not enough to spread the virus? 

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After Japan has decided to postpone the Olympics (finally!!), there was a rumour that Tokyo may have a lockdown. The Chief Cabinet Secretary immediately denied. PM Abe also has denied the possibility of a lockdown as it would give a big damage to Japan’s economy. I think this was the most honest comment they have made until now. 


It’s frustrating to see Japanese people are very relaxed about the situation. To me they look almost careless as if they see the problem is someone else's. But at the same time, people rush to get toilet rolls or face masks. What is this gap? 


Many Japanese people have by now started to feel the same feeling after the Fukushima disaster in 2011. It was obvious that many regions in Japan were contaminated. Everyone knew that was threatening when the government began to pile up contaminated soil near the residential areas, or when people realised the water in the Tokyo area was highly contaminated by the radiation. However, most response you would get that time were, “The government says it’s safe” or “The government doesn’t dare to harm us”. 


It’s the same this time. Because of SNS, more people are complaining or warning the situation but the majority of the people are acting the same. It reminds me the children’s book, “The Emperor’s New Clothes”. Many people knows the government is not telling the truth and even some specialists or foreign medias tell them, they pretend that they don’t hear anything. 


PM Abe has just announced that the government will distributes two face masks per household. As the announcement came out on the 1st of April, people on SNS made a joke about it and shared images to ridicule the Prime Minister.

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Moreover, the masks he will send to the nation are cloth masks which are supposed to be less protective than surgical masks. A professor of life science at Kyushu University explains why cloth masks are not effective.


The cost of a cloth mask is about 200 yen and the government will send them out by post. It seems like the postal fee will cost more than the masks. And yet, that’s the best support for Japanese people. “Give masks to the nation and they will stop worrying” was the idea of the same Chief Cabinet Secretary, Suga. 


It’s quite obvious that Japan gives more importance to its economy than the people. This is whom the majority of Japanese people have chosen. 


I hope you are all well and healthy. It’s boring and hard. The loneliness is also a problem caused by this social distancing. Phone your friends, Skype them or have a zoom conference with your family. It’s time to share our compassion and solidarity. 


Feeling lonely? Write me or Skype me. I am happy to have a chat with you.







Japan subculture:

COVID-19 Situation Report in Japan:

Tokyo Web:

NHK news:

Asahi digital:



  1. Beth Parkhurst 3 years Reply

    According to news reports I’ve read in the U.S., people in Japan are much better than Americans about wearing masks. Here, some shop employees have been physically attacked for asking customers to wear masks. One was even killed.
    Americans seem to have forgotten about community spirit. We need to learn from Japan

    • Juju Kurihara 3 years

      There are lots of criticism about Japan but at the moment we don’t see any chaos. Masks are always familiar to them even for avoiding cold air in winter. 

      I’m sorry to hear that people get aggressive over the masks. Killed…. That is very sad. This is a hard time to everyone and I just hope that each of us care others even a tiny bit. 

  2. Al 3 years Reply

    OH MY GOD(do)!! Not Shimura Ken =( I knew the name vaguely (from Gintama of all places) and thought he sounded cool — sorry to hear the government doesn’t seem to be looking after its citizens properly.

    I believe the plan in the UK was originally to just let people catch the virus and gain immunity, as the lockdown itself would cause more economic damage, but the plan was scrapped because they didn’t want to overwhelm the health system.

    Sounds like it’s “business as usual” in Japan. How sad to have to postpone the Olympics, but I’m sure it’s for the best.

    We’re still allowed to go outside for exercise here with no permit (and I’m at my parents’ in the countryside, not my boyfriend’s place in the city, so at least I have some green space to look at!) We’re having very nice weather at the moment — I bet loads of people went to the beach…

    Anyway, stay safe, Juju!

    • Juju Kurihara 3 years

      The Olympics were the main focus for the Japanese government. I can understand. It’s a lot of investment and preparation but still, there was no way they would make it. I am relieved they have finally decided it. 

      I’ve read about the UK’s plan. I thought it was a joke then realised it wasn’t. It’s scary. 

      I’m glad you are with the family and not in the city. It’s sad that you can’t be with your boyfriend but that would be the better option for now. Less people and more space for you to walk to get some fresh air, that’s the best thing you need.

      Stay safe and healthy to you, AI. 

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