business

Tokyo shopkeepers brace for another slowdown as coronavirus flares

24 Comments
By Junko Fujita and Rocky Swift

Two straight days of record coronavirus infections in the Japanese capital have dashed shopkeepers' hopes that business can get back to normal any time soon.

Tokyo reported a record daily high of 243 new infections on Friday, following 224 the day before, as authorities stepped up testing in nightlife districts.

Shota Saka said sales at his ramen noodle shop had just started to recover in June after slumping by about 40% the previous two months when Japan was under a state of emergency.

"From now on, we'll have to live with the virus," said Saka, 34.

Japan's economy is expected to shrink at the fastest pace in decades in the year through March 2021, forcing the government to compile another stimulus package to cushion the blow from the coronavirus, a Reuters poll showed on Friday.

For Fumiko Sekimoto, the economic cost is all too clear.

She has drastically cut back the operating hours of the sushi shop that she and her husband have operated for more than 50 years as their customers have disappeared.

"Before the pandemic, we had customers who came here all the way from Saitama and Chiba," said Sekimoto, referring to regions north and east of Tokyo.

"Now those people have stopped coming because they don't want to take the train."

Yoshiaki Katsuda, a professor at Kansai University of Social Welfare, said that the spike of cases in Tokyo appears to have followed on from the reopening of businesses in the middle of June.

Although the bulk of new cases are young people, the danger is that they infect their more vulnerable parents and grandparents.

"If that happens, the burden on the medical services will increase sharply," Katsuda said. "I'm quite afraid of that."

Health authorities are carrying out more than 3,000 tests a day and Tokyo Gov Yuriko Koike wants to increase that to 10,000.

Testing has focused on the host and hostess clubs in the nightlife districts of Shinjuku and Ikebukuro.

Urologist and public health advocate Shinya Iwamuro has been going to red-light districts to press businesses to do what it takes to stop the virus.

"The concept is: 'We'll teach you how to prevent infection and welcome customers with peace of mind'," said Iwamuro, known as the Condom Master for his books on sexual health.

"I'm trying to gain empathy rather than persuasion."

Such targeting is a good strategy to keep the virus at bay as the epidemic settles into a new phase, and to stop what could be a severe second wave of infections, said Nishimura Hidekazu, the director of the Virus Research Center at Sendai Medical Center.

But a focus on nightlife could drive those businesses and infections underground while neglecting other trouble spots, said Hokkaido University professor Hiroshi Nishiura.

"As far as I can see, transmission is going on in industries other than host clubs," Nishiura said in a video on YouTube posted on Friday. "I'm beginning to wonder whether our current measures are sufficient."

© Thomson Reuters 2020.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

24 Comments
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I won’t be reducing my noodle shop visiting for a poxy virus, that’s for sure.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Altogether, a sad state of affairs.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Meanwhile please continue to use the crammed to breaking point trains!

Nobody on the trains has the virus nor does it spread there, right!

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Nobody on the trains has the virus nor does it spread there, right!

Exactly! It only spreads in restaurants, bars and gyms!

9 ( +11 / -2 )

People on trains are wearing masks which can't be worn in restaurants, bars and gyms.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

lol, trains vs ramen shops ... .first you will have to evade the train ride hazards to the ramen shop and then o all of the culturally correct and polite slurping droplets flying directly at you.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

People on trains cannot keep any type of distance between themselves as they can in restaurants, bars, trains, libraries, supermarkets etc.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

While the idiotic government and media keep pushing the fear factor, what else would we expect? If you can, get out there and support your local businesses, government fear campaign be damned.

I was somewhat heartened speaking with some friends last night about this. We hadn't talked about this whole affair before so I had no idea what they thought about it, but most of them are growing deeply suspicious about the motives of the government and media, and realising that they constantly manipulate context or underreport certain figures to make the crisis seem worse than it is. That's only a small sample of people, but it was half a dozen intelligent people from various backgrounds and walks of life. They know something's going on behind the curtain, so to speak, but can't quite put their finger on it.

Don't get me wrong - this virus IS a danger to some people, but not to most. If you're genuinely at risk, take the proper precautions. Look beyond what doctors are saying outside the WHO bubble.

Here's an interview with a doctor talking rationally about the risks and to whom they apply:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1z664H7EiA

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@n1k1,

..polite slurping droplets flying directly at you...

You have the deft poetic touch of a haiku master.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The go to campaign plans to give discount to eat ins as well, and vast majority of Japanese in surveys said they plan to take advantage of the campaign.

The government will be pushing for a message of travel, eat-ins, and events. With a significant proportion of population listening 100% to what the government says, I see business picking up regardless of coronavirus situation in August.

There is no way the government will ask the population to stop going out in middle of the go to campaign.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

People on trains are wearing masks which can't be worn in restaurants, bars and gyms.

Rubbish. Since my gym re-opened, everyone has had to wear masks. Yes, it's a bit uncomfortable, but I've managed so far. Haven't dropped dead from breathing in CO2.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Tokyo subway is still rather packed. Blazing summer heat is made even worse by open windows letting blazing hot air come in ruining my toupee thank you.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

People on trains are wearing masks which can't be worn in restaurants, bars and gyms.

Ahhh... the magic paper mask eh! That'll save our souls. Well, at least the ones that seal around the face and can stop the microbes from going through and haven't been worn for days on end...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Nobody on the trains has the virus nor does it spread there, right!

Exactly! It only spreads in restaurants, bars and gyms!

Probably the biggest contributor to spread of infection is stupidity

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I bought a cheap cloth mask in March and it's still going strong!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

RecklessToday  12:16 pm JST

I bought a cheap cloth mask in March and it's still going strong!

Physical tatemae. I've got one too. Not particularly useful, but stops the busybodies' disapproving stares.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Pukey2

   People on trains are wearing masks which can't be worn in restaurants, bars and gyms.

Rubbish. Since my gym re-opened, everyone has had to wear masks. Yes, it's a bit uncomfortable, but I've managed so far. Haven't dropped dead from breathing in CO2

But you are healthy.

Starting at the end of this month I will begin a once a week gym program at a local welfare center. I don't know if I can do it wearing a mask because I'm still recovering from a major op.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Hve you tried the mask from Uniqlo @zichi?

I haven't myself but could be useful

Or the ones from sports brands like adidas and underarmour

1 ( +1 / -0 )

i@n

Hve you tried the mask from Uniqlo @zichi?

I haven't myself but could be useful

Or the ones from sports brands like adidas and underarmour

Yes, thank you. I have been using homemade cotton ones a friend made for me. Better than the paper masks or at least more comfortable.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I myself find paper masks more comfortable than my cotton masks but I plan to try the sports mask of underarmour when I start jogging and basketball again

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

'We'll teach you how to prevent infection and welcome customers with peace of mind'," said Iwamuro, known as the Condom Master for his books on sexual health.

Really would like to know what Master is teaching about social distancing.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Many people do fear the train as a virus spreading area, but it is in fact very safe. People do not know each other’s so most of the time, nobody talks. People wear a mask. A few are coughing but the mask, if they have one, retains most of the virus. And windows have been opened recently .

Fear is based on a normal way to take the train, with only a few wearing masks and coughing without thinking. Recently, many try to retain from coughing

For all these reasons, it is actually quite safe. Not like bars, restaurants, clubs, coffee shops and offices, etc

0 ( +2 / -2 )

didou,

I don't think 'it is very safe.'

It might be safer than we imagine but I really don't think it is 'very safe.'

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Shop keepers are correct.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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