NOTE: The information presented in this blog post was accurate as of the publishing date, April 9th. Please note that as the situation evolves, things are liable to change. For the most up to date information, please refer to the official government sites provided in the article.
As coronavirus spreads and few countries remain unaffected, many of us have made difficult decisions as to whether it is best to remain in our country of residence (if we are foreign residents) or return home. As comparatively, Japan has few cases of Coronavirus, some of you have decided to remain in Japan.
For those who do not feel comfortable speaking Japanese, at times like this especially, it’s important to have access to medical services and informational services from the government in the language you’re most comfortable with. In this post, we will give a rundown of some of the most essential resources to have on hand in the case that you have health issues, whether your symptoms lead you to believe you might have been exposed to Coronavirus, have other health issues that you want to safely address, or need English language guidance for keeping up with official updates from the government.
What’s Going on In Japan
In order to follow the situation in Japan, it’s important to be familiar with the politicians most prominent in dealing with the current situation. First, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. PM Abe heads the LDP, or, Liberal Democratic Party, and is widely perceived to represent conservative, nationalist interests. He is widely known for his approach to strengthen the Japanese economy, nicknamed Abenomics.
Another prominent figure in addressing the state of Coronavirus in Japan, is Yuriko Koike, the governor of Tokyo.
Governor Koike first urged residents of Tokyo to stay home during the weekend of March 28th-29th apart from essential and emergency situations. She later expanded this call to weekday evenings, and all subsequent weekends as the number of confirmed cases in Tokyo rose, and many cases were traced back to drinking establishments and clubs. Before official measures were taken, Gov. Koike made a special plea made to young people to refrain from going to karaoke, spending time in large groups, and doing other forms of socializing. As case numbers rose in Tokyo, criticisms of young people spending time in large and popular areas per usual, such as Shibuya have appeared in the media.
The federal government opened a special tasks force that aims to address the growing risks over Coronavirus. The task force also allowed for the call of a state of emergency and any subsequent government action deemed necessary under those conditions, which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe did on April 7th. The measures cover seven areas, Tokyo: Chiba, Saitama, Kanagawa, Osaka, Hyogo, and Fukuoka.
As far as the implementation of the state of emergency, the governing bodies of each individual prefecture/city are given governance. GOv. Koike says she is consulting with the national government to see what is feasible action in the capital, and plans to hold a conference to announce official measures on April 10th.
One thing PM has insisted throughout the process, is that while public activity will be greatly limited Japan will not have lockdowns like its counterparts abroad. In France and in New York City, violation of social distancing rules and bans on going out in public can result in fines, while in London violation can result in arrests, but no measures with force or fines are expected in Japan.
One of the largest concerns of the government is the effect on the economy. As the government anticipates short and longterm effects on individual households and businesses, they are developing a huge stimulus package that will provide cash deposits to household who have lost more than half their income, in addition to payments for freelance and small businesses. The full details of the stimulus package are yet to be revealed.
General Healthcare Concerns
While hospitals in Japan have beds and are preparing more beds, it’s important for everyone’s safety to mind the guidelines for getting treatment for even light illnesses at this time. Currently, those who suspect they might have Coronavirus are asked NOT to visit regular clinics. A sign stating this, (as can be seen above) with the local coronavirus hotline is posted outside many clinics, but unfortunately, there is no guarantee that this will be posted in other languages than Japanese.
In the case of general treatment, we suggest making a quick call to your local clinic to speak with them about any symptoms you might have before visiting. This will allow them to confirm for you that they will indeed see you and treat you. When making a visit in to any clinic, and outside in general, it’s always good to wear a mask whenever possible. In the case that you do not have any face masks, it is likely the clinic will has stock and will ask you to use one while there.
Coronavirus Concerns, From Consulting to Testing in Tokyo
In Tokyo, the government has set up a number of hotlines for residents to consult with health professionals regarding their symptoms and to find out if they are eligible for testing. You will be asked if you have some of the hallmark symptoms of the virus, and how long they have persisted. Japan’s current evaluation for Coronavirus, places fever at 37.5℃. This number differs by country.
Though the numbers are listed above, we will provide the hotline numbers below.
General Consultation Center For Coronavirus
- Phone: 0570-550571
- Operating Hours: 9:00-21:00, everyday including holidays
- Language: Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean
Tokyo Health Care Information Center
- Phone: 03-5285-8181
- Operating Hours: 9:00-21:00, everyday including holidays
- Language: English, Chinese, Korean, Spanish Thai
English Lanaguage News Sources
As the situation changes each day, it’s important to consult with various news sources and other bodies for official information. Here are some of the top sources we recommend:
- JNTO (Japanese National Tourism Organization)
- NHK World (National News Channel in Japan)
- MHLW (Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare)
- The Prime Minister’s Cabinet, English Updates
- US Embassy (English language resources for US Citizens and other English speakers)
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