national

Avoid crowds and non-essential gatherings, health minister urges

80 Comments
By CHARLY TRIBALLEAU

The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

© 2020 AFP

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

80 Comments
Login to comment

Avoid rush hour trains.

Perhaps I should teleport to work, minister? Or get there by means of Wonkavision?

44 ( +45 / -1 )

 "non-essential gatherings", including notoriously packed commuter trains

That's the ticket! I'll just tell the boss I couldn't get to work until 11am due to following the health Minister's advice and avoiding the non-essential notoriously packed rush hour trains.

40 ( +40 / -0 )

English teachers beware. You come into contact with many businessmen and women who have business ties to China and who usually are on commuter trains in busy areas. I feel sorry for the teachers at places that give "man to man" lessons. Glad I'm not in that line of work, but I have a friend who is.

11 ( +19 / -8 )

Avoid crowds? Spoken like a true politician who has not been out of his office for 30 years. Over one million people go through Tokyo, Shinjuku and Shibuya stations respectively every day. The peak hour trains are packed with 3,000 people. The peak hour train stations in central Tokyo have 10-20,000 people going through them every hour. It's pretty clear the health minister doesn't get out much. Does he expect the whole population of Japan to become 'hikikimori'? He is the health minister. If he doesn't have any practical advice for the masses, he should not be in that position.

39 ( +40 / -1 )

This strikes me as both alarmist and likely to encourage blaming/shaming of those with the virus.

4 ( +10 / -6 )

Those who can should avail themselves of “flex time” and work-from-home options. That can held minimising crowding for others who have commute at peak times. I expect my employer will announce that everyone who can should work from home.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

You can expect that the government will embark on a campaign to convince everyone that everything is okay well in advance of the Olympics. Because the almighty dollar or in this case yen is more important.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

Indeed, people who can probably should work from home. But this goes very much against the grain of Japanese culture. My guess is that the gaman culture will win out and folks will continue to go to work.

23 ( +23 / -0 )

TOKYO

Japan's health minister on Sunday urged the public to avoid crowds and "non-essential gatherings", including notoriously packed commuter trains, 

"Urged" will not work here in Japan, in this situation.

"Order" "Enforce" are the words.

If the government doesn't want a future and a bigger impact, it has to "order" companies to encourage teleworking, and shift the timings suitably so that rush hour can be avoided.

I said this in the past too.. declare a temporary holiday, for everyone except medical services..and we will avoid a debacle.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Japan's health minister on Sunday urged the public to avoid crowds and "non-essential gatherings", including notoriously packed commuter trains, to prevent the new coronavirus from spreading in the country.

I would love to hear just how this health minister defines "non-essential!"

I suggest that he stops the current Diet session, that certainly fits the bill of "non-essential" in my opinion!

23 ( +23 / -0 )

The virus has being spreading all over in Japan for six weeks, Japanese, US government say mask are worthless.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

You can expect that the government will embark on a campaign to convince everyone that everything is okay well in advance of the Olympics.

It was already being discussed last week on various news and talking-heads "wide-shows!"

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Japan's health minister on Sunday urged the public to avoid crowds and "non-essential gatherings", including notoriously packed commuter trains,

Says the health minister who has a car and a driver that takes him everywhere he needs to go. How in the world will people just begin to apparate to work? This is not Harry Potter. And yes, while some or many people should or could work from home, that is not part of the Japanese work ethos and will not, pardon the pun, work here!

18 ( +18 / -0 )

The Health minister acknowledges that the viral outbreak has entered a new phase and yet neither his ministry nor the government has taken proper measures to contain the spread of the epidemic, including a total ban on Chinese visitors.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

Oh yes, they (those government reps) definitely know what they are talking about.

So, how about this ... make everyone stay at home for the next couple of weeks.

Pay their salaries from a newly funded budget. Now that would be nice.

Else wise, as always, they DON'T know what they are talking about.

They should make themselves smart and educated, but I guess it's too late for that, too!

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Japan really dropped the ball on controlling the spread of this virus with their complacency and the 'It won't happen here" attitude. Telling people to wear paper masks and avoid crowds is kindergarten advice. It has been proven time and time again that paper masks do very little (if anything) to control the spread of viruses. There are masks available that do control the spread of viruses, but they are expensive, hard to get and need to be changed 10+ times a day. However, these are not the masks the vast majority of people are wearing. The Japanese health ministry needs to embark on a serious educational campaign to advise people on the correct personal hygiene routine to stop the spread of this virus. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap at least every hour. Keep your fingers out of your nose, mouth and eyes. Eat a diet high in vitamins and super veges like, ginger, broccoli, cinnamon, honey and all fruits and get plenty of sleep to build up your body's resistance. A large majority of Japanese city dwellers are living on four hours a sleep, heaps of garbage foods and alcohol. These are the ones that will contract the virus and spread it further.

16 ( +20 / -4 )

Avoid crowds and non-essential gatherings, health minister urges

And yet they're still going to hold the Olympics???? I mean isnt that the mother of all crowds and gatherings??

15 ( +20 / -5 )

Aly Rustom

And yet they're still going to hold the Olympics???? I mean isnt that the mother of all crowds and gatherings??

It would be extremely alarmist to cancel/postpone the Olympics now. It isn't until July, and hazarding a guess, they're hoping it'll abate somewhat by then.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

...“Feed them cake”...

Socially isolated, career politician living in a fantasy world.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Glad I'm not in that line of work, but I have a friend who is.

Sure, make yourself feel better by taking a crap on the rest of us.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

They should have stopped tourism from China as soon as they knew of this epidemic. But the lure of Yen円 was too strong to stop it.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

It would be interesting to test a random few hundred people in central Tokyo, just to see if it is already 'out there'.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Japan has been pushing Tokyo residents to try telecommuting or avoid rush hour commutes to ease traffic congestion during the summer Tokyo Olympic Games.

Has nothing to do with residents unless the companies support telecommuting.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

"I think it's important that we exercise Japan's collective strength. ,"

Popaganda soundbite central.....what exactly is this mystical "strength" minister speaks of?

Dither about what to do and then just following what everyone else does whilst "gaman -ing and hoping the LDP mandarins have a clue about what to do? Yeah OK.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I would love to hear just how this health minister defines "non-essential!"

I've been downarrowed but if I read the minister's words as a foreign tourist with a trip to Japan booked, I would cancel if my policy allowed. Every tourist site in Tokyo, Asakusa, Meiji Jingu, Harajuku, GInza etc. is crowded. The economic fallout of en masse cancellations, not just mainland Chinese, would be huge.

I would also question why all festivals, events, trade shows, concerts, etc. this month and next aren't being cancelled. Lots of them are full of old vulnerable people. Is hanami cancelled this year? It's only a month away.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Avoid rush hour trains.

Perhaps I should teleport to work, minister? Or get there by means of Wonkavision?

or you could commute by car/motorcycle...

if you really need to use trains etc. avoid touching handrails or literally anything during your way to work would help a lot

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

I caught a little cold. But I do not go to a clinic which is run by my cousin. If I am found with the coronavirus, his clinic will go out of business.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

"non-essential gatherings", including notoriously packed commuter trains, to prevent the new coronavirus from spreading in the country.

Don't start throwing yours and the Japanese governments failure to curb Chinese traffic at us, Katsunobu-chan.

You responded poorly and now you want to put the responsibility on everyday citizens to curb the disease. How about you block any and all Chinese traffic until we get the virus sorted? Oh you want Chinese money though?

Well who doesn't want their cake and to eat to eat it too.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Avoid crowds....?

Does the minister even know where we live? Good luck everyone.

I've stopped worrying...it's inevitable we will get a dose of this virus.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Only a coddled bureaucrat who gets driven everywhere in his taxpayer-funded limo would be able to offer such "advice" with a straight face.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Take his car away and make him find a way to his work.

15 ( +15 / -0 )

Where's PM Abe? Have not heard of him since "brushing away" the worries about the spread of the virus.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Ok let's give the advice a Health minister can't:

if feeling with difficulty to breath after getting a cold within days, call your doctor, and DO NOT GO TO HOSPITA by yourself

clean your hands thorughly with soap often

cough in your elbow all the time

So far, no person in Japan said to be in serious conditions surprisingly.

Odds seem to vary a lot depending on country. Strange to me because if you may have stats variations from a different contaminated panel, on a large undetermined panel, you should get sale figures, ie 2% of demise and 18% or so of contaminated in serious conditions.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I wonder if he'll personally sign a 'doctor's note' for all 40 million people living in the greater Tokyo area.

Seriously the second I step outside my house there's already a crowd.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Japan really dropped the ball on controlling the spread of this virus with their complacency 

This is based upon the assumption that they ever had the ball in their hands in the first place!

I for one believe they never did! Case in point, the propaganda ministry continuing to state that there reason to believe that the virus spread from within the hospital, where a number of cases have popped up.

Its like here in Okinawa, there is no "official" news other than the 60's female taxi driver, and in the hospital....

No hospital named, nor taxi company named either, but BOTH matter!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

In Japan,If hundreds of people start to become infected, then there will most certainly be curfews in place.

The Japanese government will react similarly to the Chinese government.

Stock up on toilet paper and canned goods for a couple of weeks.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The "Gambare" / "Gaman" hogwash will be this countries undoing. I've seen people come to work sick with a really bad cold, fever, a few even came with influenza, so on and so forth. The belief that I can't take a few days off to heal, that I must report for work will allow this virus to spread throughout the country.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Avoid crowds and non-essential gatherings.....Tokyo, the most densely populated city in the world with 38,140,000 people. (2016)........ 6,158 persons per square kilometer...

Utter mind numbing nonsensical gibberish. A cabinet Minster responsible for the health and welfare of the people.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

There are masks available that do control the spread of viruses, but they are expensive, hard to get and need to be changed 10+ times a day. However, these are not the masks the vast majority of people are wearing.

I was told by a friend that masks of any type are sold out most everywhere.

if feeling with difficulty to breath after getting a cold within days, call your doctor,

Most likely he/she won't answer the phone. You'll have to make an appointment.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@zichi. I fully agree about removing his car and driver.

As much as I like living in Japan I have to remember this is a country which appointed someone who cannot use a PC to head up IT security. This is relevant as I worry the people heading this response up may have similar “qualifications”

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Most likely he/she won't answer the phone. You'll have to make an appointment.

How to make an appointment if they don't answer the phone?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Went to a lunch at a Chinese restaurant yesterday in the middle of town. We were a party of thirty plus, many of us elderly, and our event had been booked since last December. The place was fairly packed with regular customers anyway. No-one wore a mask. I am sure everyone has seen all the repeated hype on TV. The common unspoken assumption was one of resignation, I sensed, i.e. if you are going to get this thing, then so be it.

The food, you ask? Not bad.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I am so glad that I have live in a sterilized, germ free bubble home. Plenty of stocked food at best 2 yrs of food, capability for fresh treated potable water, medicines, proper sanitized waste water removal and trash compact/disposal system, built in contamination stations w quarantine facility, state of the art UV light for microbes and detection system. Full HVAC system. No need to go anywhere and my job is online. I'm good. YEAH RIGHT like UTOPIA exists...I guess good old fashioned common sense and proper etiquette was flushed down the toilet along time ago.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

How to make an appointment if they don't answer the phone?

Call the receptionist, who most likely will answer the phone, unless it's St. Lukes Hospital, in which case you'll have to hang on for as long as 45 minutes before they answer.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Correction: the LAST the place you want to be is in a city like Tokyo, fighting crowds for resources.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

It would be extremely alarmist to cancel/postpone the Olympics now.

Yet you have the Health minister telling people to avoid public gatherings..

It isn't until July, and hazarding a guess, they're hoping it'll abate somewhat by then.

That's a pretty BAD guess. Sars, which was FAR LESS contagious than this strain lasted from November 2002 to July 2003.

Sars started EARLIER, spread MUCH SLOWER, was far LESS contagious, and yet it remained a problem until July of the following year. So if SARS is anything to go by, I'd say NO WAY this is going to be nipped in the bud by July.

Of course, it is POSSIBLE that it will die down as quickly as it has spread, BUT it is not alarmist to cancel the Olympics. Or at least postpone them for a year or so

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Has this twit ever actually been on a train in rush hour?

(Que video of a young Kevin Bacon steaming “REMAIN CALM! All is well!” From ‘Animal House’)

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Avoid crowds? Well that's easy to do for those of us who live in Tokyo........

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Aly,

POSSIBLE that it will die down as quickly as it has spread, 

Not to worry about the virus; by early June the LDP’s propaganda ministry (ie NHK) will make sure that the hysteria etc surrounding the virus will dissipate and all will be well again. But suddenly! Suddenly! I say, right after the Olympics NHK will show that some ‘foreign visitors’ reintroduced the virus to Japan.

As for avoiding unnecessary meetings - Bingo! All of them are unnecessary. As for avoiding crowded places - Bingo Again! Can’t make it to work, boss, the LDP Health Minister said so.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Japan's health minister on Sunday urged the public to avoid crowds and "non-essential gatherings", including notoriously packed commuter trains, to prevent the new coronavirus from spreading in the country.

Any chance of a lift, then? Pick me up about a quarter past seven. I’ll put a mask on.

Tea with milk and no sugar if it’s not too much trouble. Non of that canned or bottled crap.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

I think (and I imagine they have started) it is time to start talking about cancelling or postponing the Olympics. They do not need to make any decision now but I think they would probably need to decide within April or early May.

In their defense (and I am one who thinks the IOC and probably some of the people involved in this are corrupt) this was highly unpredictable and difficult to foresee.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Shouldn't they be advising people to go for testing, I mean all the sales staff at brand stores will have been up to their eyeballs with chinese customers

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Not to worry about the virus; by early June the LDP’s propaganda ministry (ie NHK) will make sure that the hysteria etc surrounding the virus will dissipate and all will be well again. But suddenly! Suddenly! I say, right after the Olympics NHK will show that some ‘foreign visitors’ reintroduced the virus to Japan.

borscht Brilliant post mate!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Al Jazeera documentary on the virus. Its really concerning

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBOwFBu05c8

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Unfortunately, a virus as contagious and has dormant symptoms like covid19 cannot be contained in a densely populated area. Only way is to stay strong, follow proper sanitary procedure, and lower the probability of contracting it (by avoiding unnecessary crowds).

What else can the minister do?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I never knew the Japanese politicians were so into "Mission Impossible" :)

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Being out to lunch isn't going to instil a lot of confidence in the governance over this issue.

Now if he introduced the concepts of washing hands, using hand sanitizer, and sneezing into the elbow, that might be useful

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Also brass. Brass has a unique property for a metal in that it is anti microbial. Useful for handrails. The copper in the brass disrupts pathogens.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

At least one company is taking countermeasures:

Yahoo Japan Corp said Friday it is calling on all employees to avoid commuting during rush hours and is banning meetings of more than 100 people in principle, in addition to encouraging personnel to wear face masks and promoting the use of teleconferences.

For now, core working time will be shortened by two hours from noon to 3 p.m. for the 6,500 employees at Yahoo to facilitate commuting during later hours.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

What else can the minister do?

Resign? Get a doctor in there who understands Public Health . People need assurance from professionals, not window viewing oyajis

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Japan has been pushing Tokyo residents to try telecommuting or avoid rush hour commutes to ease traffic congestion during the summer Tokyo Olympic Games.

As if this is a choice each worker can make.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Yes, resigning surely helps the situation, and changing a head with more credentials is what we need.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

“What else can the minister do?” Exactly.

Initial hip-flex reactions aside, am left wondering what other suggestions are out there to try and contain the inevitable outbreak. The eat healthy , sleep well and boost your immune system in any way possible is a good one to start. Limit your own personal activities as well as the loved ones around you. Hand washing etc. We are still in chapter one remember, just entering chapter two. How long the story goes and to what end no one knows. The guidelines and appeals although they seem simpleton, seem fairly reasonable to me. If you are lucky enough to be in a position that enables a bit of flexibility, stay away from crowds, work from home, keep an eye on your personal space. It’s as good as you are gunna get from any government anywhere, the potential scale of the thing is scaring everyone. Why people look to governments to protect them with all the incompetence on show for anyone to see always amazes me.

Imagine what its going to do to third world countries before you panic though. There are much worse places than Japan to be to ride this one out.

PS Who else has been binge watching outbreak and pandemic movies on Netflix?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The Olympics... plan B yet?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

What a joke! And this statement coming from Japan's Health Minister.

Everyone might as well just hunker down at home and wait until the crisis is over whenever that may be.

Seriously, how is everyone expected to function when they are being told to avoid crowded places and packed trains.

With only 60 cases, this is overkill. The Health Ministry is spooking the public and Japanese being extremely gullible will do as they are told to do unfortunately.

This is going to get really bad.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Japanese are not good at avoiding crowded gatherings! I used to think it was not by choice that they felt obligated for crowded gathering but the matter of fact is that they like crowded gatherings as it brings a feeling of safety and security! It’s like moth drawn to a light! For instance, with the virus outbreak developing at a rapid pace people still formed massive crowds to watch the Olympic torch test run last weekend! It was only a test run but yet the crowd was massive!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Stop wasting tme and pls find a cure.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Why people look to governments to protect them with all the incompetence on show for anyone to see always amazes me.

A tad more difficult than that : 1- the government was elected by people and as the responsibility to manage the country to the benefice of the people. So, it is kind of logical people expect them to do that. 2- Even if you consider the government failed totally to do so, you are still bound by rules so you have to appeal to the government to make it so that you can take necessary mesure : the exemple of rush hour is one : telling people to avoid it but doing nothing o make it possible put people in troble. As far as I know government own lot of schools. How about just make it so that no school start before 10:00. Should have a positive effect in reducing the amount of people commuting between 7 and 9.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Avoid crowds there say, yet the Tokyo Marathon is on the 1st March

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Hard to understand why people are wasting time commenting on the sort of pro forma public statements that officials would make in any country under similar circumstances.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

corporate workers should use this to excuse themselves from meaningless daily meetings

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Well, anyway, we cannot avoid commuter trains and crowds if we work, unless we have cars. The majority of commuters go to and from work via public transportation. Note that we are not seeing a plague, whereby thousands of people are falling by wayside with the flue. At this point one can cautiously guess that coronavirus is not as vigilant in Japan as it is China.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Well, I just got home via the Ginza/Chiyoda Lines, and I can reort that the revered Minister's wise advice has fallen on deaf ears, as has the basic manners I had drummed into me before I was old enough to tie my laces, i.e. cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough.

With a bit of luck, though, the magic talisman of having a scrap of tissue somewhere close to your face - be it under your nose to prevent your glasses steaming up and interrupting your TikTok, or pulled entirely under your chin so you can pick bits of gyoza out of your teeth before getting hold of the handrail and lifting your able-bodied self out of the "courtesy" seats is all it takes to prevent this thing ripping the @rse out of this city in the next few weeks.

Never forget, folks - perform the ceremony and facts don't matter.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Hahaha... right. Japan won't stop people from going to work -- won't even DARE suggest it, and there is no way companies will allow peoples to stay home until they are actually infected and have already spread it. Japan's going to put China to shame once the full spread starts kicking in.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I could not imagine such advice being applied to japan and rush hour trains. most people would still want to go to work with a bullet in the head.

japan's culture and social structure is based on following and being within crowds. and i doubt they could step out of that comfort level.

in conclusion, i hope this virus, or the next one, can change and reshuffle people for the better...and most importantly, how it treats animals,..especially the rare and endangered ones.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Useless advice that just fuels fear.

How about advice on basic preventions for cross infection? Telling people if they think they have the virus NOT to go to hospitals, doctors surgeries etc, phone for advice first.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Health Minister Katsunobu Kato, 65, is a member of the Liberal Democratic Party. Prior to politics, Kato worked at the Ministry of Finance from 1979 to 1995. He was elected to the House of Representatives for the first time in 2003 after unsuccessful runs in 1998 and 2000.

It appears that Kato has never had a job outside of government or politics.

Kato is a member of the revisionist lobby group Nippon Kaigi.

A graduate of Tokyo University, he is living proof that a high score on an entrance exam is not always an indicator of any sort of intelligence or common sense.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

But this goes very much against the grain of Japanese culture. My guess is that the gaman culture will win out and folks will continue to go to work.

Actually, Japan does not have to work in such cramped places, its a making of their own and they seem to like it. they only have themselves to blame if there was a mass outbreak

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Great, Minister. Thanks. That ought to keep the panic down. Just avoid human beings when they gather. Like, in cities for example.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Mask country now can’t get you a mask. What a joke. Can’t get disinfectant sprays from drugstores now. Should I save up on o-shibori from Starbucks?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites