as_the_crow_flies comments

Posted in: No. of virus patients recuperating at home tops 30,000 See in context

The number of coronavirus patients recuperating at home in Japan reached 30,208 this week, the health ministry said Saturday.

Well there’s a problem right off. Some may not need hospitalisation, but just because some are being denied in-hospital treatment does not mean they are necessarily recuperating. So how about something like ’patients suffering from Covid but not classified as seriously ill’.

The situation poses a challenging task to health authorities in terms of keeping a check on patients in the event of a sudden deterioration in their condition.

Perhaps here they are trying to say ’health authorities, who are leaving patients untreated at home, exposing some to the risk of a sudden worsening of their condition.’

This is particularly true as there is little education of the public that you might not feel any change, but your oxygen saturation level could be dropping dangerously low. Most of us don’t have a pulse oximeter at home.

The Tokyo metropolitan government on Wednesday reported the deaths of two COVID-19 patients -- a man in his 80s and a woman in her 50s -- who were recuperating at home.

And this is why words matter. If they died, they weren’t recuperating, were they? So stop sugaring the pill and say people are suffering with Covid, then the report will make a bit more sense.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan finds new coronavirus variant in travelers from Brazil See in context

And anyway, taking the UK mutation as an example, it was already figuring in official reports (disregarded there) back in September, which means that it was able to freely circulate the world and seed itself .... wherever, but almost certainly in many, many countries .... On top of that, aircrew are able to bypass controls in many (most?) places, allowing asymptomatic spread for weeks now. We can probably assume that these more virulent variants are on the up and up in many places, and are behind the rocketing infection rates in so many places, including Japan. So - the horse has well and truly bolted.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Suga, Bill Gates agree vaccines key for Tokyo Olympics See in context

You can just picture Bill Gates in a meeting with a bunch of advisors before he made that call: " Let's just humour the old git about his pet vanity project . Japan is a lost cause, so of course Suga will prioritise anyone on the Olympic gravy train before Japan's own citizens. But we can't do anything about that, so let's just focus on getting Japan to fund vaccination programmes for developing countries."

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Posted in: Tokyo reports 708 new coronavirus cases; nationwide tally 2,937 See in context

How I wish we could start getting some figures that show the trends, rather than this robotic spitting out of daily random numbers on age groups, and comparison with the day before.

For example, the national 7 day average of daily positive tests was 2000 a month ago, now it is 3000. In Tokyo it was 400, now it is 700.

National 7 day average daily deaths were 20 a month ago, now they are in the high 40s. In Tokyo there were 2 a day, now there are 7 a day.

Latest figures are a of couple of days ago, so a bit on the low side.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Posted in: Masks block 99.9% of large COVID-linked droplets: study See in context

Mask loving propaganda .... Do you really want to wear that ...

Leave feelings out of it. Viruses don't care what you or I feel. Maskless people are simply useful idiots for the virus, powerful disease vectors for it to replicate successfully. Just like rats during previous outbreaks of Bubonic plague, really.

13 ( +17 / -4 )

Posted in: Masks block 99.9% of large COVID-linked droplets: study See in context

The point of mask wearing is to reduce the viral load the wearer breathes out, or the number of viral particles the wearer breathes in. The viral load you get is one factor in how sick you get, and likewise if you are infected, the viral load you breathe out will be a big factor in how sick any infected people will become. Your chances of getting or causing a milder or even an asymptomatic case are dramatically improved by mask wearing. Your immune system can work much more efficiently against a few hundred or a few thousand viral particles, compared to hundreds of thousands or millions of them.

So masks will catch a lot of the large respiratory droplets, and although they don't catch all of the airborne aerosols, reducing the load will definitely help protect the wearer from serious illness and death, or conversely, protect those around an infected person from serious illness or death.

In Japan, we are mostly denied testing. The number of infected people is increasing dramatically, so your chances of exposure are growing. As vaccine rollout here promises to be slow and you will be queuing for months for your turn to be vaccinated, in the meantime, mask wearing (along of course with handwashing and avoiding crowded and poorly ventilated indoor spaces) is the single biggest way to protect yourself and others.

17 ( +17 / -0 )

Posted in: Man in 50s with mild COVID-19 found dead in quarantine hotel room in Kanagawa See in context

As I understand it, a blood oxygen saturation of less than 95% should mean he is being regularly monitored by qualified medical staff. It is not, and should not, be considered mild, as someone's condition can go downhill fast. Just dumping people in a hotel and labelling their cases mild is not an adequate response. It's a kind of 'out of sight, out of mind' way of trying to wish a problem away by mislabelling.

If the health system is now under this kind of pressure now, it was blindingly obvious they wouldn't be able to give enough symptomatic patients proper care, so what the hell were they doing encouraging unsafe behaviour for the past few months? Government inaction has created this situation.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: SDF nurses sent to Osaka as virus surge overwhelms facilities See in context

I thank ALL medical workers, whether they are military or civilian, for the work they are doing to care for us. But that doesnt distract from the fact that the real root of this crisis is political arrogance, self-serving incompetence and paralysis, and that this is a PUBLIC HEALTH crisis. At the root of this is lack of governance and chronic underinvestment in pandemic preparedness. This could be up to and including the military, but it should be pre planned, meaningful and timely, and not a sticking plaster after the fact, to show a bunch of people scurrying around in front of the cameras looking like theyre making a huge difference, when actually all those involved have their hands tied from doing it properly and effectively. Sickening, particularly as it puts the medical workers in harm's way too.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan to give tax breaks for long-term foreign residents to attract financial experts See in context

"The tax incentive will deliver a message that we want them to live longer and work longer in Japan," the source said.

Great. It's a start.

Except that as I understand it,

apparently 'long-term residents' seems to mean the kind of people who come in on those 'highly skilled' visas and then go away again, as apparently it will not apply to residents with PR. So how exactly they are supposed to be enticing people to stay longer is anyone's guess.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Politician voted out after accusing mayor of sexual assault See in context

With news like this coming out of Japan, it can look forward to becoming a world leader in gender equality. It's already at number 121. With a few more episodes like this, the ground's the limit. Go To Nippon!

... And Syouko, WE BELIEVE YOU! This is for you -

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Posted in: Coronavirus cluster grows at Tokai University rugby club See in context

@Zoroto yes, so true, in fact 'mild' is a meaningless label in Japan, as it includes a wide range of outcomes, including people who experience difficulty breathing or a drop in oxygen saturation, not to mention gives no idea how many of them are still suffering symptoms weeks or months later. It has been established that initial illness is not a clear indicator of whether or not someone will suffer 'long covid', and we do not yet know whether this can result in permanent organ damage.

It is just a reflection of the supine media here, who just churn out publicly issued press releases that show interest in three things: the impact on the Olympics, the economy and the viability of the healthcare system. The cost of the pandemic in human suffering does not even figure in the reporting. So if these generally fit young althletes have infected parents, grandparents, neighbours, friends, fellow students, coworkers who then go on to suffer serious consequences is not even touched on in these stories.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Posted in: Japan eyes 35% quota for women political candidates by 2025 See in context

Japan, which lags on the global stage in terms of gender equality and parity

Understatement of the year. They are dropping down the gender equality rankings as they are overtaken by other countries. Now down to 121st place, the lowest ever. Japan embarrasses itself with its feudal, backwards thinking.

An example of what they have to get over is the bullying lawmakers have to deal with from the oyajis is they try to change the system to make it easier for women to combine work and childcare, if they challenge gender roles by not being married, or choosing another woman over a man. Until this changes, many women are put off venturing into politics. A vicious circle, which pioneers need to fight against by teaming up, and getting popular support for the changes they are trying to bring in. This includes male lawmakers who push back against traditional gender roles by taking paternity leave. It is a long tough road in a society where still dominated by oyajis with caveman attitudes.

Gender equality by itself will not solve the issues of a corrupt political class and old boy network that Japanese politics has run on for so long. Someone like Koike is a case in point. She may be a tough nut who fought to break through a glass ceiling to get to where she is, but now she is there, we are stuck with the same old brand of right wing politics from her, that lies to the public and pushes tired nationalistic postures and offers nothing new, just empty gestures and soundbites. Her support through hell or high water of these useless Olympics and her coronavirus response are clear examples.

Even so, it is a start, and Japan needs to get its skates on if it doesnt want to find itself bottom of the gender equality rankings in a few years.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Posted in: Gov't considers compulsory private health insurance for int'l Olympic visitors See in context

All together now: "O-MO-TE-NASHI!!!"

The idea of requiring visitors to have private health insurance is not a bad one in itself, as long as the health system drags itself into the 21st century and makes it easy and smooth to get pre-treatment approval, and that all Japanese hospitals can provide the necessary information and documentation for insurance claims quickly, and in English. This will then make it easy for many to claim directly, and for others to get translation from English to their language is more straightforward.

But actually the reason for it being classified as a dangerous infectious disease is called public health, the idea being that untreated infectious people are a threat to everyone in the country, so access to treatment is made easy for OUR protection. This is the same as with other public health hazards like tuberculosis, and makes the country safer for all of us. Failure to cover treatment means sick people without the means to pay for it are vectors of the disease and spread it to others.

Anyway, isn't the J-gov the one that's so keen to put on this super-spreader event in the middle of a pandemic, against all common sense? If they want to protect Japan, then just cancel the damn thing already. If not, they should take responsibility for the consequences. Many visitors may bring coronavirus in, but many more may get it while in Japan, so they should be protected by public health measures.

And yes, J-social insurance does cover your health treatment overseas, as in Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan, Britain sign free trade deal for post-Brexit era See in context

At least it should be easier to buy stuff online from Blighty, even if they don't sell it here. Looking forward to getting shoes without getting hit with Y5000 import duties as happened last time I tried it.

But deliveries might get caught up in generally snarled up shipping situations over there from January, the way things are looking at the moment, so lay off the online Stilton orders for now.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Posted in: UK announces first major post-Brexit trade deal -- with Japan See in context

The UK is free from these oppressive dictators. 

Well, sort of. Apparently it turns out Japan is imposing even stricter state aid rules than the UK-EU withdrawal agreement. And Bojo has threatened to break international law because he has changed his mind about the conditions on a level playing field written into the withdrawal agreement. Then along comes Japan, requires stricter conditions, and Bojo says 'how far would you like me to bend?'

Course, Japan better watch out as Dominic Cummings might tell Bojo to renege on what he just agreed 6 months down the line, and bleat that what is being agreed now is unfair and unreasonable. But probably not - beggars can't be choosers.

Not sure whether to laugh or cry.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: UK announces first major post-Brexit trade deal -- with Japan See in context

As the article says, this is basically just to replace the existing deal that UK benefits from as if it was still an EU member until the end of this year. So the X billions it is worth is really what the UK would otherwise lose from next January. It may have a couple of miniscule bells and whistles of benefit to the UK, like crumbs of cheese, but as the article says, Japan has been able to make the most of the UK gov's desperation to win itself more beneficial terms in this deal (trains). Actually, it cannot give the UK better terms than the current EU - Japan deal, unless Japan has already decided to concede exactly the same terms to the EU, as part of its already signed and active trade deal with the EU.

The UK minister can go and crow from the rooftops to make it sound like she’s won big, when everyone knows she’s at best holding on to what the UK still has for the next 3 months.

It’s better than nothing. I am sure Japan is playing wait and see with any future developments, to find out if Japanese companies based in the UK will have any access to the EU market before they decide whether to run down or pull out operations, and their government’s policy will support them in that.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Posted in: No. of new coronavirus cases in Tokyo falls to 95 See in context

Why don't they just change the headline to the numbers tested each day? Something like 'Tests fall by 50% compared to yesterday'. What they do with these articles is just noise. Btw, according to this site

4830 were tested on the 18th, and 1978 on 21st (latest figure they give on this site).

It would be more meaningful to give a 7 day average to iron out the daily fluctuations in numbers tested, so at least it would give a sense of a trend.

With scattershot data like this, it just become a ritual of trying to explain the numbers, rather than the numbers giving us useful information.

I would like to know what is happening with contact tracing and isolation? Have these been ramped up to deal with the increasing exposure that comes from reopening schools and other places?

I saw a random fact dropped by Koike a day or two ago that household transmission is on the increase. So if that is the case, which sounds plausible, what is being done to respond to that trend?

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Posted in: Japan eyes 'energy forests' for woody biomass power generation See in context

In a commonsense world, Japan would:

Phase out brown envelope driven policies.

Phase out cedar planting over most areas, to reduce hay fever (not energy related).

reduce energy consumption and increase recycling.

Focus more on small scale energy production and consumption to increase efficiency.

increase energy efficiency of buildings, specially with green areas, living walls/roofs/the latest solar energy techniques.

develop wind farms.

develop geothermal.

rationalise the grid system.

develop biodiverse forests, not move to another mistaken one type solution that turns out to be a problem over the following decades. Work with local watersheds and maximise local water harvesting.

plant to stabilise mountainsides, rewilding the steepest, most unstable ones.

Have burning biomass as a last resort, where saving/recycling/reusing can't be carried out.

Phase out coal fired plants and nuclear, and make rational plans for hydro electric plants as they age. A lot were environmental disasters, and should not be replaced when they reach the end of their lives.

Oh wouldn't it be loverly .....?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Plastic bag usage at Japanese stores down by 50%, but plastic bags sales through the roof See in context

Any suggestions of what to do with wet/smelly food that you need to throw away? 

If compostable, compost it. You can compost using a cardboard box - you don't need a garden. Alternatively, start a wormery on your balcony - that will see off more the potentially smelly scraps. By reducing moisture this way, you'll find the smell in your bin virtually disappears.

If in a building, campaign for the management committee to create a composting space or get a communal composter.

Campaign for your chonaikai (neighbourhood association) to start composting bins in gardens or green space around your area. There are lots of cheap, quick and easy ways to do this. They can be made in minutes with a packet of zip ties and a roll of wire mesh, or with wooden boards.

If it's stuff like fish, like others said, put it one of the many smaller plastic bags you get goods in, such as for bread (which there are also far too many of), and stick it in the fridge/ freezer till rubbish day.

Line your waste bin with newspaper - that helps to prevent smells, even in summer.

Buy less overpackaged stuff and the volume of plastic to throw away will reduce dramatically.

Reuse food bags and take them to veg stores or bakeries. Ask them to put your goods in those. Better still, make washable cloth bags and do without the plastic altogether.

Do these things in small steps, starting with the easiest, and you'll find they become just a part of your routine. You'll be amazed as you see your plastic gomi shrink to a fraction of the average here in Japan.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Posted in: Tokyo reports 131 new coronavirus cases; under 200 for 1st time in week See in context

These numbers will go up and down so we need to learn how to live with it.

Curious logic there.

Alternatively, look at the 7 day average:

It clearly shows an upward trend.

Also as we know, some countries are effectively controlling it, but Japan is clearly not:

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: Japanese government to urge more teleworking as coronavirus cases surge See in context

Makes sense I suppose. But keep it cool while you’re at it eh, quit the endless worrying and fear and the rest of it, just keep it together ok.

I guess that, scientifically speaking, keeping cool makes you immune, just like the radioactivity back after 3/11 that wouldn’t affect you if you smiled, right?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: Cirque du Soleil accepts purchase offer from creditors See in context

I worked on a production with former members of Cirque de Soleil for the Channel Tunnel opening in the mid 1990's. Seeing their daring, skill, magic and creativity up close was a revelation. They had groundbreaking new ideas and as someone said, reinvented the circus for modern times.

A crying shame they have come to the end of the road, whatever the reasons may be. I hope a phoenix will rise from the ashes before too long.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan reports over 600 cases on Thursday; 286 in Tokyo See in context

This article referred to the problems for funeral directors of not being informed by hospitals of the cause of death. It mentioned that in general (not just during the pandemic) a third of deaths in Japan are from pneumonia.

Funeral workers therefore don't know whether they are handling a potentially infected body.

"Pneumonia claimed the lives of approximately 94,000 people in Japan in 2018. Additionally, there were some 38,000 deaths from aspiration pneumonia, caused by accidentally inhaling food, liquid or other matter into the lungs. Putting these two figures together gives a total of over 130,000. As of March 29, the number of deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus stood at 66."

That looks like a lot of scope for 'not getting round to' testing for Covid19 before someone dies, and so then recording cause of death as pneumonia. And of course Covid can also cause serious kidney or heart failure too. It doesn't have to be a conspiracy either. Covid19 infection in a hospital seriously hits their bottom line, so many places will be reluctant to be associated with Covid19 patients., as they are already facing loss of business from patients who are staying away, worried about getting infected.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Posted in: Why are so many Japanese women pigeon toed? See in context

Yes, that full nappy waddle. I remember seeing some teenage tourists in a hotel in Manchester in full goth gear, waddling round the hotel lobby looking gormless, and I remember thinking they probably had some developmental issue. Then I came here and worked in a high school, and full 80% of the students waddled in the same way. I do remember thinking it works okay if you’re wearing a yukata or kimono, but in a short skirt and the loose socks they wore at that time, they looked like a parody of an anime character. I reckon if you do it for enough years it becomes second nature, and you probably twist tendons and muscles out of whack, until you can’ t stop even if you try. Just idle musings though.

I can well believe that it’s either a turn on for many Japanese males, or else the girls think it’s kako iiiiii, and don’t care whether men like it or not.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: Japan revises law to make more part-timers join pension program See in context

Article is badly written and gives a very negative impression of the proposed change. I'm glad they are improving coverage of shakai hoken of part time workers. I think they should introduce it faster, so that people can build up enough contributions to have a reasonable pension. The payouts need revising upwards, as they are not enough to live on. Increasing the allowance so that you can earn a living wage is also right.

That said, the idea of incentivising people to keep working with the payback that your eventually payout will climb noticeably and makes it worth your while to do so is not a bad one. If you go into the pension office or use the online tracker, you can see how you are getting on. And once you get past 61, there is a lot of flexibility built in, so you can decide month by month. If you start to get hacked off with your job or the commute, you can just decide that month to start claiming pension. If your final pension is based on a mix of your contributions and the meter ticking, it is an incentive. Noone is being forced to work to 75, but if you feel healthy and want to keep working and contributing to the pot for another 3 or 4 years, surely that's a good idea for everyone.

This is completely different to raising the pension age, which is like moving the goalposts.

And once you have got 120 months of contributions, you qualify for pension, even if you are no longer in Japan.

It's certainly not perfect, but get the facts before you bash it out of hand.

What they should be doing and soon, is making more bilateral agreements, so more of us migrants can get pension based on contributions in our home or other countries.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan aims to revive tourism industry by subsidizing people to go on vacation See in context

If they want to get tourism up and running again, get a proper test, trace, track, treat regime up and running everywhere in Japan. Finance the health service to do this, including the private clinics, if you want to stimulate the economy.

Get a few people teams in the Ministries to connect up with counterparts in successful countries like Taiwan, New Zealand, Korea, Portugal. Be humble and learn from others!

Link up with the hospitality industry to work out a quarantine regime using hotels etc, so overseas visitors can contemplate coming to Japan further down the line. (Though how that will work with most people unlikely to come for more than two weeks, I haven’t a clue, tbh).

Perhaps then Japan can mitigate future waves and also inspire confidence from foreign travellers in future. If anyone has the money to come here, that is.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan aims to revive tourism industry by subsidizing people to go on vacation See in context

"Go to travel"

"Let’s trip."

"Enjoy fun time!"

"Yes Omotenashi! But please mask!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: Children's cafeterias using COVID-19 crisis to consolidate community See in context

This is wonderful. In the UK, schools are staying open for vulnerable children, as many would go hungry without the breakfast club or free school lunches, as well as to provide a safe place to be. As Japanese schools are either all open or completely closed, voluntary groups like this are providing a vital link for so many families.

Absolutely fantastic to hear about, and it seems their 3-11 experience has made them much better at adapting quickly to whatever the latest situation is. A massive lesson for the rest of the society.

Can you imagine what kind of sad individuals the complaining locals who report them for supposedly violating social distancing rules?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Posted in: How lax rules, missed warnings led to Japan's 2nd virus cruise ship hot spot See in context

The lack of a clear timeline with dates for each events makes it very difficult to unpick this story and work out any possible causality. From which dates were crew being flown in from other countries, and where from? When was the first case on board the ship reported?

My feeling from previous reports and from the apparent timeline of this is that ship docked in Nagasaki back in January, virus free. Then someone/some people in the crew picked up the virus on land and took it back on board, and then the onboard outbreak took off. So it seems like while local residents are assuming a dirty foreign ship brought the virus in, actually its more likely the locals should be apologising to the crew for passing on the infection to them. But with hardly any testing, we will probably never know.

Whichever way it was, sounds like complacency and incompetence all round from the cruise line, the shipfitting company, and the local/national government.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan preparing to extend coronavirus emergency for about a month See in context

My guess is the govt will want to flatten the curve more than it is showing here:

New cases havent slowed enough, deaths still increasing too much. If the estimate of 6% of the population has been infected is actually the case, the potential for the new case rate to take off again is still very high. It would mean 7 or 8 million people have been infected at some point. Of those, there is likely to be a significant number of asymptomatic carriers who have not shown symptoms, are not aware they are positive, and are currently infectious. This is probably the main source of spread of the virus. Even if asymptomatic infections patients ”only” numbered 500,000, the potential for explosive growth is definitely there. 'My guess is that experts have advised the government of this.

The annoying thing is Japans stubborness and refusal to learn from others’ hard earned experience, which could make the response here so much more effective. For example, countries that are living through the worst outbreaks have found that early detection of falling blood oxygen levels and proactive treatment can hugely improve outcomes, lower the deathrate and the need for ventilators.

Instead of admitting all positive cases to hospital, if they could properly monitor them and pro-actively treat anyone whose blood oxygen level shows signs of dropping, it would be better for patients and the health system. Insisting on specific symptoms (persistent fever) before testing is likely to actually produce worse outcomes (serious/critical illness) for many of us. Totally counter-productive. Instead of complaining about mild cases clogging up the system, why dont they change their protocols?

7 ( +8 / -1 )

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