Society | Discuss Japan - COVID-19

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Archives, Discussions, Society  Mar. 25, 2021

Dialogue on the Gender Gap Index: Reasons why Japan is currently 121st in the world ― the growing popularity of feminism and the unchangeability of journalism

Hayashi Kaori (Professor, University of Tokyo) and Kojima Keiko (Essayist) Goodbye to “membership system” feminism ― In 2017, the two of you created a group called MeDi, the Media and Diversity Forum, and since then, you have been involved in a wide range of activities, including holding symposiums and publishing. Kojima Keiko: To date, media criticism by townspeople has often been considered unimportant. Women’s voices rarely draw attention. In discussing the whole concept of the media, both academic viewpoints and the actual feelings of the people working in the media are important. However, there are not very many points of contact. Accordingly, MeDi created opportunities for discussion. We feel this has resulted in a greater number of people being interested in issues that surround the media.   Hayashi Kaori: I have been investigating and discussing journalism and media as a researcher. But my results ... ... [Read more]

Society  Mar. 25, 2021

From Inbound Tourism to Domestic Tourism and Workations—Can Japanese Tourism Recover?

Azuma Toru, Professor, Rikkyo University The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic Tourism has been dealt a serious blow by the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only has inbound tourism suddenly decreased since COVID-19 infections started growing last February, travel overseas has shrunk because travelers have nowhere to go. What’s more, even within Japan travel demand for tourism, business travel, and vacation trips to hometowns has greatly decreased. It’s a situation of “lost inbound” in which inbound tourism since last April continues to be down more than 99% month-on-month vs. the previous year. Bearing in mind that the amount spent by inbound travelers in 2019 was 4.8 trillion yen, that has mostly gone and the economic loss is extremely large. In particular, areas with a high ratio of expenditure by inbound tourists, such as Osaka (46.2%) and Tokyo at (44.8%) have been very greatly affected compared to ... ... [Read more]

Archives, Discussions, Society  Mar. 2, 2021

What Does “Quality” Mean for Tourism

Shimoji Yoshiro, Chairman of the Okinawa Convention & Visitors Bureau (OCVB) Interviewed by Yamada Yuichi, General Manager of the Tourism Research Department, Japan Travel Bureau Foundation on October 7, 2020 Developments in Okinawa tourism from spring to September 2020 Yamada Yuichi: Please tell us about developments in Okinawa tourism over the last few months. Shimoji Yoshiro: There was nothing we could do about the national emergency declaration in April and May, but in June and July when we’d finally started to recover, infection spread in an unexpected place, namely nightlife districts. Okinawa has been susceptible to infectious disease due to our social environment. Historically, we have many children and elderly people who often interact, and this was the case during previous epidemics of new strains of influenza or measles. It is a weakness with no solution and we have gone on with 20 or ... ... [Read more]

Society  Feb. 4, 2021

“Strong Societies” and “Weak Societies” in the Face of Infectious Diseases: Lessons from the Second Wave—COVID-19 attacks the broken parts of society

Oshitani Hitoshi, Professor, Department of Virology, Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine   Since June, Japan has experienced a COVID-19 “second wave” of considerable magnitude. This was expected to a certain extent, given that people’s movements have not been forcibly restricted as they were in the earlier state of emergency. However, its scale exceeded expectations. Since the peaking of the second wave in late July, the rate of decline has been slower than the first wave in April and May. Eventually, rates of new cases stopped declining and the number of cases began to rise in some prefectures, along with a gradual increase in the number of deaths. The source of the second wave is believed to have been Tokyo, the scale of the outbreak at the source so large that it left an impact across the country. The mechanism by which COVID-19 becomes ... ... [Read more]

Society  Dec. 15, 2020

Tokyo Metropolitan Government: Measures to combat COVID-19―The challenge of containing mass infection in a megacity with an aging population

Koike Yuriko, Governor of Tokyo Public hygiene supports the Tokyo Megacity’s measures to combat COVID-19 2020 was originally supposed to be the year of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. However, the COVID-19 pandemic compelled us to postpone the games. Currently, I am fighting this invisible enemy, as are the heads of local governments around the world. Tokyo, the capital of Japan, is a megacity with a population of approximately 14 million. The percentage of elderly people 65 or older in Tokyo is extremely high: 23.3%. Looking at Tokyo’s COVID-19 situation, there have been roughly 45,500 total infections and 530 deaths. As of December 10, 2020, there are approximately 60 people with severe infections in hospitals. As the number of infected people is increasing now, on November 19 the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) raised its coronavirus alert level of the infection situation to the ... ... [Read more]

Society  Nov. 24, 2020

How Should We Confront COVID-19?

Oshitani Hitoshi, Professor, Department of Virology, Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine   This is a republication of Prof. Oshitani’s message as published on the website of the Department of Virology, Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine during the period February 4–22.   There is no end in sight to the infectious spread of 2019-nCoV (COVID19) that started in China. The true nature of this virus is gradually coming to light. There still remains much that we do not know, but I would like to consider how Japan and the international society should respond to this virus in light of what we do know. Firstly, the virus that is causing this was quickly identified by Chinese scientists and its gene sequence has been publicized. As a result, we know that the virus is closely related to SARS-CoV, which caused a global outbreak in 2003. ... ... [Read more]

Society  Nov. 16, 2020

We Are Approaching the Limits of Having Only Policies that Preserve Employment!: The Largest Number of People Taking a Leave of Absence Since World War II—What Has Happened in the Labor Market?

Genda Yuji, Professor, University of Tokyo Only a Slight Increase in Unemployment in April When the declaration of a state of emergency was issued for all of Japan due to the spread of COVID-19 in April 2020, the survival of many companies was in jeopardy and the Japanese workplace faced unprecedented difficulties. Job opportunities collapsed and there was concern that we might see workers lose their jobs and struggle to survive. According to the Labor Force Survey by the Statistics Bureau, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, released at the end of May, the number of workers across Japan was reduced by 1.07 million (seasonally adjusted) in just one month from March to April when infections rapidly spread. As a great reduction from the previous month since May 1953 when comparisons can be made, it was second to the 1.13 million workers from January ... ... [Read more]

Society  Nov. 11, 2020

Chasing the X-factor! Why is the Japanese COVID-19 death rate low?

Osumi Noriko, Professor, Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine   What conclusion was drawn from searching, based on the belief that there must be a reason unique to Japanese people?   In Bungeishunju, June 2020, Dr. Yamanaka Shinya, Director of the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA), Kyoto University, pointed out that there must be some sort of a hidden “X-factor” behind the fact that there are few deaths from COVID-19 among Japanese people, and this was talked about in the news. I have actually always had the same doubts and searched for possible candidates for an X-factor from public data and the latest papers which are updated daily around the world, and I presented these candidates on the “sendaitribune” blog. My field is developmental neuroscience, which is different from infectious disease medicine and epidemiology. However, with this COVID-19 outbreak, I now ... ... [Read more]

Society  Nov. 11, 2020

Another State of Emergency is Possible: What the Coronavirus Subcommittee Hesitated with and How they Made Their Decision

Omi Shigeru, Chairman of the New Coronavirus Infectious Diseases Control Subcommittee   Dr. Omi Shigeru (71), Chairman of the New Coronavirus Infectious Diseases Control Subcommittee, revealed in Bungeishunju (July 2020) that he was influenced by author Kobayashi Hideo’s Mushi no Seishin (The Spirit of Unselfishness) when he was younger. The following opinion is found in an essay by Kobayashi that was presented in the 1960s. “People who succeed as doers are seen as people who push through themselves and strongly assert themselves, but on the contrary, there is actually a kind of unselfishness among them.” (Hideo Kobayashi Complete Works, Volume 12, Shinchosha) Dr. Omi, who served as the vice chair of the Expert Meeting until June, took responsibility for controlling infections while also making the economy work as the Chairman of the Subcommittee from July, as the spread of infections approached a new phase. ... ... [Read more]

Society  Oct. 27, 2020

Infectious Disease and Civilization in the Twenty-first Century: Invisible Calamities Attack Modernity and the Spirit of Civil Virtue Developed by the Japanese People

Yamazaki Masakazu, Playwright and Critic   Editor’s note: Professor Yamazaki Masakazu passed away on August 19, 2020. This article, written in early May 2020, is published in translation here with the permission of the bereaved family and the original publisher. Going back to a previous time in world history The current spread of COVID-19 can be considered a “historic” event in two senses. Firstly, of course, it is an epoch-making tragedy and turning point in contemporary history, because the epidemic is likely to have a lasting influence on future civilization. Secondly, and of greater significance, the tragedy pours cold water on the hidden arrogance of modern people, and we can imagine it encouraging a return to the human civilization of the past: a time when urban civilization arose. The epoch that we call the “modern age” has had a number of stages—and as humanity ... ... [Read more]