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Lockdown, Japan-style: Pressure to conform, but no penalties for non-compliance

33 Comments
By Linda Sieg

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Abe has come under growing pressure to make the declaration after a surge of virus infection cases in Tokyo and elsewhere.

I've been informed by several Japanese people that this decision should have been made sooner and it's still not enough.

Restricting movement and businesses, however, would deal a heavy blow to an economy already struggling to cope with the virus outbreak.

It is what it is. If there are no restrictions the number of COVID cases and deaths will multiply.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

SerranoToday  04:20 pm JST

Well, he's trying to calculate for the point when most people are for it and the most reluctant are at least willing to accept it. This reduces the resentment caused by these orders to a bare minimum and increases compliance to a maximum.

Without voluntary compliance, it seems even a combination of risk to life and threatening murder charges (like in Italy) cannot stop all violators.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

From what I understand, New York hasn't declared a total shutdown but almost everyone is off the streets

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/coronavirus-new-york-city-cases-map-state-of-emergency-covid-19-pandemic-a9398776.html

Hopefully Japan's strategy is effective, but a lot relies on Japanese people going along with it which they weren't doing only a week ago. The gov does also need to support businesses though to encourage them to let people stay at home and stop the virus spreading

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Hokkaido declared its own state of emergency on Feb 28. It managed to do this on its own without a national emergency being declared. The Hokkaido state of emergency has since been lifted.

Does this new national state of emergency mean prefectures can bring in more sweeping restrictions than Hokkaido did? In Hokkaido, it sounds like people were merely asked to stay home at the weekend.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

In contrast to stringent lockdowns in some countries, mandating fines and arrests for non-compliance, enforcement will rely more on peer pressure and a deep-rooted Japanese tradition of respect for authority.

Yeah, I'm pretty sure already panicked Japanese will still comply with authorities and not panic buy essentials and not get into fights with others while buying said essentials. I'm sure it never happened before and never will.

Japan has shied away from stronger enforcement steps in part because of memories of civil rights abuses during World War Two, and protection of such rights was enshrined in the U.S.-drafted post-war constitution. "The (pre-war) Meiji Constitution had such powers and there were abuses," said lawyer Koju Nagai. "The current constitution is based on the idea that human rights should be respected."

Would you rather have lots of potentially more coronavirus cases that will lead to more dead people, more financial losses and a more difficult time to rebuild the economy by going soft or just put up with the complaints of the people and drop the axe already. Now shouldn't be the time to think about one's approval ratings and democracy, survival should take priority first

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Google Mobility Report reveals that there is no significant difference in human mobility rate between "lockdowned" NY and "self-restrained" Tokyo.

https://www.google.com/covid19/mobility/

During mid-Feb to the end of Mar, Tokyoite are sightly more mobile than New Yorkers only at workplace (among other checkpoints: entertainment, pharmacy, stations, residential areas, etc.). Despite lockdown, NY is found as the same as Tokyo in terms of mobility rate. The former is more physically active in residential areas.

Personally I feel that those who go too wild and defiant on the streets should be fined (money being redistributed to finance supportive programs for risky groups of people under the virus threat)

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Some may wish for more authority by a government to be effective but we can appreciate the civil liberty in Japan. Don’t abuse it. Cooperate.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

@kohakuebisu

Does this new national state of emergency mean prefectures can bring in more sweeping restrictions than Hokkaido did? In Hokkaido, it sounds like people were merely asked to stay home at the weekend.

Technically, yes. It would enable (designated) local governments to act on legal grounds. It would allow for both rewards (compensation) and punishments (fines or forced closures) to targeted areas and people.

The Hokkaido case was extralegal though the move seems to have ended up working. Unless it is legally valid, civil lawsuits could be possible against the government.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

It's encouraging to see that Abe is not going to turn the authorities loose on the noncompliant, but frankly it would be impossible in a city that is so geared to mass transit.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japan has shied away from stronger enforcement steps in part because of memories of civil rights abuses during World War Two, and protection of such rights was enshrined in the U.S.-drafted post-war constitution.

"The (pre-war) Meiji Constitution had such powers and there were abuses," said lawyer Koju Nagai. "The current constitution is based on the idea that human rights should be respected."

I think we all can agree with respecting human rights. Even so, you can't be shy about confronting something with the power to kill tens of millions. I am not slighting this in the least, however, the abuses they are talking about happened under much different circumstance and most of the people old enough to remember probably are too old to really care about that this day and time. Today, this enemy is unable to be seen but can still wreak extreme havoc. One must act sternly and decisively for the betterment of the people.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

"In contrast to stringent lockdowns in some countries, mandating fines and arrests for non-compliance, enforcement will rely more on peer pressure and a deep-rooted Japanese tradition of respect for authority."

Traditional, perhaps. There are lots of traditional that aren't followed anymore, just as there are MANY people here who do not obey the law, from kids at school to adults in society, because they know there are no serious repercussions, if any at all. Look at "no smoking" laws/rules, and you'll see a person smoking under a "No smoking" sign. That's but one example.

In any case, it's a "lip-service" lockdown, plain and simple. Government is passing off instructions to local authorities, who will say it's up to the Central Government, while both will use those who DO obey the law and force them into further overtime work.

More importantly, though, a virus -- particularly this one -- doesn't care about what we deem "essential" or not, and won't distinguish between a crowded train in the morning for "essential" work, or a crowded bar at night. So long as they are not going to take this seriously, even with the "state of emergency", we're going to be back to Abe having to make this month-long decision again, after thousands of deaths, and potentially millions infected. TIJ

5 ( +7 / -2 )

A lockdown but with office workers still packing the trains going to work.Lol two times.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Glad I can still go to work. Some of us got beans to earn!

0 ( +5 / -5 )

We can all just sit back and watch the number of new cases continue to rise.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

"In contrast to stringent lockdowns in some countries, mandating fines and arrests for non-compliance, enforcement will rely more on peer pressure and a deep-rooted Japanese tradition of respect for authority".

Well the Japanese police will be happy that they can continue on with their hijinks.

The 50-60 strong bosozuku gang here in East Osaka have no interest in peer pressure or respect for the law. Even last night, Sunday night, they were out terrorizing the neighborhood.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

yeah, gotta love the fact that in Japan everything ,s different ... ... it,s a state of emergency but not really an emergency ... it,s a lockdown but not really a lockdown...

2 ( +3 / -1 )

yeah, gotta love the fact that in Japan everything ,s different ... ... it,s a state of emergency but not really an emergency ... it,s a lockdown but not really a lockdown...

Or, the opposite of love.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

It’s hardly a lockdown. It’s just more of the same that’s been happening for the last week or so, except this time someone in a suit on the tv has told them. Go about your lives everyone, nothing to see here.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Vince Black said "It’s hardly a lockdown."

Well, one man's hardly is another man's likely.

Who needs penalty if one trusts ?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

What, you mean asking people to stay at home for weekends only wasn’t effective, the authorities have only just realised this? Incompetence or wilfull ignorance?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Now shouldn't be the time to think about one's approval ratings and democracy, survival should take priority first.....

Today, this enemy is unable to be seen but can still wreak extreme havoc. One must act sternly and decisively for the betterment of the people.

These are exactly the kinds of words that have been used in the past to usher in authoritarian governments. Not to diminish the risks, but think about the results, I am glad that Japan is not (yet) following the path of taking away human rights. People who brush off this concern are people who have never experienced losing human rights - and are not all that different from people who brushed off early reports of corona-virus because they have never experience such a thing.

Get a grip. Be responsible, take care. But don't just hand over human rights that millions have died to preserve.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Keeping the country moving is important

The alternative is millions jobless, homeless, no savings to talk about.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Get a grip. Be responsible, take care. But don't just hand over human rights that millions have died to preserve.

What should we do in this situation to make sure human rights are not handed over?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

What should we do in this situation to make sure human rights are not handed over?

Ideally, people will cooperate. Barring that, it would be nice if people remained alert and wary, rather than just cheering on martial law. Fear causes people to make very bad decisions. I am glad there is some resistance to handing too much power to government in Japan, not always at the forefront of human rights.

I don't know what to do - just wish people would be more aware of what's happening and what is being traded off for perhaps a little more safety.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

id bet most people act very well but a lot or hoarding and some madness popping up. Need to push the population more on the basics use a bbc style wash your hand-don’t touch your face- stay home approach. Don’t risk it for a biscuit!!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I'm as anti-authoritarian as anyone. I don't trust government overall.

But a virus doesn't care about politics, it doesn't care about authoritarianism, it doesn't care about personal freedoms.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

So this is just a commercial and political propaganda? What is the point? The CCPCOVID-19 has no prejudices and as stated in posts it cares less about politics. When is the government going to do its job and follow what the people voted them in to do. What's the point of laws and policies if there is no bite to them.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Read it again because I just can't believe it... or rather, I CAN believe it. Abe seems to think he can negotiate with the virus and it will pat him and others on the back for doing things "Japan-style" here.

So, he can go home tonight and praise himself in the mirror, but tomorrow morning it'll be to the tune of another record day of new positive tests for Covid-19, and the day after, and the day after that. Soon it'll be 500 a day while he pleads with the virus to cooperate and ignore packed rush-hour trains and point out it's for the economy.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

So it's a lockdown which is purely voluntary.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It's funny watching people trip over themselves trying to rationalize their biases against Japanese society as the coronavirus continues to spread rapidly through Japan.

One of the oft-repeated stereotypes about Japanese society, as seen in this article, is that Japanese people are afraid to stand out against the grain, and that they will blindly obey and follow authority to their dying graves in a 'conformist' society.

Well, if that's the case, then how to explain how quite a few Japanese people, like many other people around the world, have been ignoring authorities and shelter in place orders while defiantly crowding public venues with zero social distancing protocols? So much for that outdated notion, huh?

But not to worry, the same people will then say, "no that's incorrect, the fact that these Japanese people ignored social distancing and stay at home orders is precisely because they are conformist to each other and don't want to stand out by staying at home, hence they pack subways and crowd public venues."

smdh

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Well, if that's the case, then how to explain how quite a few Japanese people, like many other people around the world, have been ignoring authorities and shelter in place orders

There has been no "shelter in place order" in Japan.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The CCPCOVID-19 has no prejudices and as stated in posts it cares less about politics. When is the government going to do its job and follow what the people voted them in to do.

The virus has no political opinions.... means what exactly?

What's the point of laws and policies if there is no bite to them.

What's the point of a constitution if there's no bite to it?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

commanteerApr. 6 09:43 pm JST

These are exactly the kinds of words that have been used in the past to usher in authoritarian governments. Not to diminish the risks, but think about the results, I am glad that Japan is not (yet) following the path of taking away human rights. People who brush off this concern are people who have never experienced losing human rights - and are not all that different from people who brushed off early reports of corona-virus because they have never experience such a thing.

While I agree with the general sentiment above, from a legal viewpoint, for making this thing work IMO a better balance is to authorize an order, with penalty. The penalty can be symbolic peanuts, say 100 yen for individuals and 10000 yen for legal entities that try to order their people to violate the order, but it should be there.

Because an order from the government changes the legal obligations of its subjects, while a request does not. The order actually gives the little guy a solid legal basis for staying at home. The request does not do that.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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