national

Japan struggles to get a grip on social distancing

51 Comments
By Junko Horiuchi

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

© KYODO

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

51 Comments
Login to comment

For a parent with a child, I cannot imagine being forbidden to go outside at all

Well, you better get used to it.

15 ( +22 / -7 )

Two weeks! Just two weeks stay home! Why force the government to drag it out for months! We can take the hit for two weeks or slowly take the hit for months. Don’t expect any pity from me for those out and about enjoying their outing in crowded area. You get sick, it’s on you. Karama always attacks stupidity!

13 ( +17 / -4 )

Social distancing.....Damn straight they have no idea, at least the folks in Tokyo, just look at daily rush hour on the trains! Those are worse than being stuck in an airplane, and the perfect breeding ground for the virus to spread.

Right, but that's not "social" that's "work"......hence the problem with the concept!

16 ( +21 / -5 )

Oh and how can all these "oyajis" enjoy their nightly drinks at their local snack, pub, or cabaret, if they have to "socially" distance themselves from the women serving them!

10 ( +15 / -5 )

Why force the government to drag it out for months!

Because it takes someone with a bit of balls to actually say enough is enough and force a lockdown. But no Japanese politician, especially Abe or Koike, wants to take responsibility. Abe is probably busy now folding up his Mario costume.

20 ( +23 / -3 )

Yeah umm... have you taken a morning train in Japan?

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Japanese people have a herd or cattle culture. They have to be close and tight to function. Because of this social programming, the concept of social distancing is hard to comprehend for them. Case in point, have you ever been on a relatively empty train with plenty of empty seats, and yet have someone sit right next to you. A lot of people just don't feel comfortable unless they are close to others.

24 ( +27 / -3 )

Social distancing lacking?

No sweat...lets try another " urge" shall we?

Remarkably, Japan has seen a slow rise in the number of coronavirus cases compared with other countries, 

Hail, its an Olympic miracle.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

@mirai hayashi i've been in tokyo since 1970's - you are correct.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Case in point, have you ever been on a relatively empty train with plenty of empty seats, and yet have someone sit right next to you.

Not in my world. Often the whole train can be standing-room only, and the seat next to me is open.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Japan’s cramped housing will probably work against it too. In North America houses and apartments are, on average, much bigger and people arrange them to be comfortable and have a lot of entertainment options. Staying isolated is a lot easier when you can do it lying on a massive sofa, watching a big screen TV, with a massive fridge stocked with huge amounts of food that you like. Plus a garden outside to sit in if you have a house.

In Japan almost everyone lives in cramped houses or apartments that are uncomfortable and don’t have enough space for much furniture or amenities. Even if you live in a house you probably don’t have a garden. Your living space is designed under the assumption that you will spend very little time in it, and will instead either be at work all the time or getting your entertainment outside somewhere.

Its going to be way harder to sit in isolation for months in a Japanese residence.

18 ( +18 / -0 )

Yes, Pukey2 ..Get used to it !

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Perhaps they will understand the importance of social distancing after the whole country goes into lockdown.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Pukey2:

Abe is probably busy now folding up his Mario costume.

LMAO!!!

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Case in point, have you ever been on a relatively empty train with plenty of empty seats, and yet have someone sit right next to you.

Or at the gym, when there are 200 empty lockers, some cretin will come and start using the locker right next to yours.

11 ( +14 / -3 )

"Before school closures, I felt like I was always rushed and occupied with trying to keep on schedule, such as taking my son to school, making him do homework, and getting him to go to bed. I tended to get irritated," she said.

That's sweet. It is how one ought to raise ones' child, virus or not,

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Or in the toilet, when every stall is empty, but some lonely heart wants to use the stall right next to yours. Insane! This is actually a real phenomenon in Japan called "tonara" トナラー, where people can't help but to be next to others. I think its a psychological disorder due to social programming and being forced to live in tight quarters.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Not surprised the usual suspects out there take this news piece and run with it as per usual.

As I stated in another news topic, Japanese are hardly the only society, culture, or country 'struggling' to get a grip on social distancing.

New South Wales in Australia has had to resort to much stricter measures and law enforcement because people were simply ignoring social distancing recommendations. Just last week scores of people massively crowded Bondi Beach igniting anger, as coronavirus spread silently throughout Sydney. In the U.K., despite desperate pleas from doctors and officials, people continued to ignore social distancing as they crowded venues and subways. Americas across the United States are ignoring social distancing orders as well.

Criticize Japanese society for not abiding by social distancing rules, that is fair. However, for anyone to imply that this is solely a Japanese only problem, as the second paragraph of this article alludes to, is Irresponsible and simply showing their ignorance and prejudices.

https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/world/2020/03/coronavirus-social-distancing-in-london-a-non-event-as-uk-cases-soar-past-8000.html

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/coronavirus-america-stay-home-orders/

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/coronavirus-australia-closing-bondi-beach-crowds-ignore-social-distancing-guidelines/

https://www.businessinsider.com/coronavirus-photos-people-ignoring-self-isolation-mandates-crowds-around-world-covid19-2020

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Google deaths from fear of the virus. Some countries more die from virus related suicide than the disease. Also fears of increased domestic violence. Hundreds of severe mental disease among pacific princess guests.

It is a hard call.

Nippon Kaigi and Kandenren don't want workers to stay home. Tokyoites don't like following "advice" or "recommendations".

I'm luck to live in the countryside.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

I can not imagine having to quarantine myself in a Japanese apartment...shudder, like a prison cell!

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Yolo, yo. Somethings are worth risking death for, and the beautiful cherry blossoms are one of them

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

Two weeks! Just two weeks stay home! Why force the government to drag it out for months! We can take the hit for two weeks or slowly take the hit for months. Don’t expect any pity from me for those out and about enjoying their outing in crowded area. You get sick, it’s on you. Karama always attacks stupidity

Yes and then what? Schools will start and teachers will be back in class and the virus meanwhile is spreading, so what becomes of all these teachers and students being so openly exposed in such close quarters? Will the government call for another lockdown? It’s not like the virus understands time limits and it’s not going away anytime soon from the spreading of this.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Bass4funk

I agree with you (for once) in that 2 weeks is a bit short. I would argue 4 to 8 weeks would be better for someone who is carrying the virus, to start showing symptoms if they have it and know whether take time off, or go back to work if they don't get sick.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I agree with you (for once) in that 2 weeks is a bit short. I would argue 4 to 8 weeks would be better for someone who is carrying the virus, to start showing symptoms if they have it and know whether take time off, or go back to work if they don't get sick.

Yes, definitely agree, but it seems the officials will continue to downplay and deny the severity this virus in the same way they downplayed and refused to see the reality that the Olympics should be postponed. If this thing catches like wildfire, I just don’t think Japan has the ability to handle a massive outbreak and the man reason for that: lack of preparedness and denial, a costly mistake.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

From the article:

wash your hands, wear masks on public transportation to be considerate of others and avoid contact with the elderly and others vulnerable to the pneumonia-causing illness.

How is "being considerate" to others going to stop the spread? And how do you avoid contact with others in some of the most densely populated cities in the world? Wearing a dust mask on public transportation will reduce its spread???

Good luck, people of Japan!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

There are several steps Japan and its businesses can take in order to encourage social distancing...

Stagger the work day in order to lesson the eki crowds. For example, encourage businesses (that can) to start later in the day (10 am) or much earlier than normal.

Encourage employees to work at home if possible.

Close the parks and places that attract large crowds.

Encourage people to walk or ride their bikes to work, or get dropped off if possible. Basically, try to avoid public transportation.
7 ( +7 / -0 )

Social Distancing: how ironic that it’s always been there mentally, just if the physical aspect could be addressed, would go a long way to help.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Mirai HayashiToday  08:13 am JST

Or in the toilet, when every stall is empty, but some lonely heart wants to use the stall right next to yours. Insane! This is actually a real phenomenon in Japan called "tonara" トナラー, where people can't help but to be next to others. I think its a psychological disorder due to social programming and being forced to live in tight quarters.

Surely this is made up or just doesn't apply to foreigners. I've been in Japan for 24 years and it is absolutely the opposite. If there is a choice for a Japanese person to NOT sit next to me (male, average size, middle-aged), they look around and go for another seat, as long as it isn't next to a 'gaijin'. This is even more the case with women. I say, even though I love being in Japanese and love Japanese people and culture generally.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Open up those remote houses in the mountains and villages for rent. The ones that are a couple of hundred meters apart from each other. Entice folks to move there temporarily.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

YubaruToday 06:59 am JST

Oh and how can all these "oyajis" enjoy their nightly drinks at their local snack, pub, or cabaret, if they have to "socially" distance themselves from the women serving them!

You are right. We don't know what kind of diseases those women have.

lol!

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Schools will start and teachers will be back in class and the virus meanwhile is spreading

Now you mention it, my university pushed the semester start date back from the 6th of April to the 20th.

Considering it looks like there will be a huge increase in the number of cases discovered even though it looked fine before makes me wonder if the professors working there made their own calculations instead.

Not so long ago the government was saying everything was fine, but now it's gone to being a potential doomsday scenario in the same week

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Surely this is made up or just doesn't apply to foreigners. I've been in Japan for 24 years and it is absolutely the opposite. If there is a choice for a Japanese person to NOT sit next to me (male, average size, middle-aged), they look around and go for another seat, as long as it isn't next to a 'gaijin'. This is even more the case with women. I say, even though I love being in Japanese and love Japanese people and culture generally.

Us foreigners are usually immune to トナラー but I've experienced it before. They do this not only on trains but also in car and bicycle parking lots, and yes, urinals. Probably the bicycle parking is where I've experienced it the most, because they park next to my bike not knowing it belongs to a gaijin.

Sometimes I had to change my seat at a restaurant because someone sat right next to me when the whole row was empty. Then again, waiters/waitresses working at restaurants usually try to cram you next to others when you walk in, so people probably think that's the "right" way.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Us foreigners are usually immune to トナラー but I've experienced it before. They do this not only on trains but also in car and bicycle parking lots, and yes, urinals. Probably the bicycle parking is where I've experienced it the most, because they park next to my bike not knowing it belongs to a gaijin.

Sometimes I had to change my seat at a restaurant because someone sat right next to me when the whole row was empty. Then again, waiters/waitresses working at restaurants usually try to cram you next to others when you walk in, so people probably think that's the "right" way.

You are probably right. I have experienced instances of cramming, which I usually resist. I also think it has something to do generally with Japanese women's fear of men (not always unjustified) and a pervading sense that older men are smelly and irrelevant and a kind of neurotic attitude on the part of many Japanese women to sexual relations. Just the use of the word 'oyaji' makes my skin crawl. And yet face-to-face, younger people are extremely polite and respectful.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I still think that India requesting lock-downs is the most ironic thing ever...I mean with all due respect, India is a country notorious for having very poor public hygiene, therefore I wouldn't be surprised if there are lots of diseases spreading all over so suddenly getting strict regarding corona is quite hypocritical...

2 ( +4 / -2 )

No BusinessToday  07:53 am JST

Case in point, have you ever been on a relatively empty train with plenty of empty seats, and yet have someone sit right next to you.

Or at the gym, when there are 200 empty lockers, some cretin will come and start using the locker right next to yours.

I've found that in restaurants here too. Sometimes walk in to a relatively empty place and they've bunched everyone up on tables in 1 corner. If they try and direct me to a table like that I just ignore them and sit on 1 with some space.

The locker thing can happen as they just dish out keys in numerical order which is annoying.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

A lot of people just don't feel comfortable unless they are close to others.

just go to a carpark, youll see all the cars bunched in pockets together, I always park my car away from others so as to not get door dents or scratches from other cars. 8/10 time when I come back Ill see another car parked right besides mine, even if there are dozens of other empty spaces in the lot.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

 If they try and direct me to a table like that I just ignore them and sit on 1 with some space.

I do exactly the same, when you go to the gym its the same , dozens of lockers available yet theyll give you the key to the locker that is right next to somebody else

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Graduation ceremony yesterday (!). 200 kids in an auditorium, no more than 2 feet apart....How hard is it, really? Invalid CSRF

5 ( +5 / -0 )

That's what happens when the mentality is, "This surely doesn't apply to me. Only to others!"

4 ( +6 / -2 )

@Wesley

Open up those remote houses in the mountains and villages for rent. The ones that are a couple of hundred meters apart from each other. Entice folks to move there temporarily.

I know you mean well by this idea, but remember, you can have covid-19 asymptomatically, and still infect others. Now if people from Tokyo, where there's a high risk of catching the virus, move to these small villages and spread the virus there, that would cause unthinkable problems for these said villages, and especially put a strain on their health care system. So no, people should just stay where they are, stay home.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Japanese people spend their whole lives being told what to do, what to say, what to wear and where to stand. It’s difficult to believe they can’t follow simple directives that could save their lives. Where’s the ‘reiwa’? “Do as you are told and there will be harmony”

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The hikikomori won't have any problem at all....

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Remarkably, Japan has seen a slow rise in the number of coronavirus cases compared with other countries, 

Hmm, I wonder, could that have something to do with the low testing?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

But political experts warn that the law giving broad power to Abe to declare a state of emergency for mandated restrictions, enacted March 13, must be executed with caution as it could violate basic human rights.

"human rights"????

Isn't it the government's job to protect people in this country?

If the decision making process on fighting the pandemic involves giving weight to the warnings of so called "political experts", then we are in a horrible trouble.

Many people are going to DIE because of the indecisiveness and incompetence of the government.

Those deaths (that could have been prevented) will be on their hands.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Japanese people have a herd or cattle culture. They have to be close and tight to function. Because of this social programming, the concept of social distancing is hard to comprehend for them. Case in point, have you ever been on a relatively empty train with plenty of empty seats, and yet have someone sit right next to you. A lot of people just don't feel comfortable unless they are close to others.

It's not just Japan but all of East Asia is like this, from S. Korea to Taiwan, China, etc.

I've lost track of the number of times that I've been walking down a wide hallway, or been standing on an empty train platform only for someone else to walk past so close that they brush me. As a Westerner it's just mind-boggling.

Oh well, c'est la vie.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Japanese people spend their whole lives being told what to do, what to say, what to wear and where to stand. It’s difficult to believe they can’t follow simple directives that could save their lives. Where’s the ‘reiwa’? “Do as you are told and there will be harmony”

Nothing about the "directives" have been simple...

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Case in point, have you ever been on a relatively empty train with plenty of empty seats, and yet have someone sit right next to you. A lot of people just don't feel comfortable unless they are close to others.

Nnnnnope. As a foreigner, I have the pleasure of often having an empty seat next to me on crowded rush hour trains. Some gaikokujin find it insulting. I think of it as a perk.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Its going to be way harder to sit in isolation for months in a Japanese residence.

Those tiny 1 room apatos must be murder at a time like this.

Thankfully, we have a comfortable house, as comfortable the ones we've had in California. We even have a yard and garden, albeit not nearly as large as our last US home's yard. But, still, it's made riding out our social-distancing/stay-in-place time fairly easy. We are very lucky in that regard.

Having lots of home delivery options for dining, grocery, and general merchandise has been a blessing, as well.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The term “social distancing” is part of the problem. The term has to be explained every time it’s used by a government official or people will not know what they are supposed to do. The most vulnerable will be the last to catch on. Just say, stay 1.8 meters away from people not living in your household.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@oldman_13

That's true. I think the main issue is that we have a much worse problem here, due to the government not telling people to stay at home and socially distance (to globally "accepted" standards). At least, in other countries, ignorant and selfish behaviour (or situations of crowded trains of "essential" workers) is regularly reported upon and criticised by the media or by governments, etc.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Countries with extensive and crowded mass transportation systems are at a disadvantage. However the Japanese seem to be handling the situation well considering the huge number of people that use mass transit- especially in the early days of the crisis when the masses were less well informed.

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