SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English
Jaeun YUN SGRA Café “Teachings of Countermeasures against Coronavirus and Japanese Model”
Recently, Pew Research Center, American research firm, announced an interesting report. They asked 14 countries question、it was “Do you recognize pandemic of infectious diseases as a strong menace?” (research period: June – August) Which country do they understand it as “strong menace”?
South Korea was the first and the figure was 89%. Their answers were “Yes, it is a strong menace”. The second was Japan and the figure was 88%. When we compare the differences between two countries, we can say that both countries feel “menace” equally. Whereas, the other countries, U.S.A. 78%, England 74% and Germany 55% (the lowest). Sweden, which took lax measures, scored 56%.
When we see the news by mass media and glaring correspondence against coronavirus by the Government in South Korea, we can easily understand their strong menace feelings. But it was unexpected that strong menace feeling in Japan was too high. Mass media reports about the coronavirus were restrained and correspondence by the central and local Government were lax in Japan. It became distinct that the measures against coronavirus in Japan depend on the efforts by individuals who felt strong threat. Movement of people has decreased sharply and all the Japanese Railway companies fall into the biggest red despite of no compulsory measures. If there would be “Japanese model”, it will be a thoroughness of behavior modification by individuals. (I have a doubt for calling “Japanese model”, because it will be not easy to imitate.)
At SGRA café this time、 under the title “Japanese measures against the new coronavirus from international viewpoints”, I had a feeling of differences in the meaning between the reports from various countries and Japanese cases. Five countries (Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, India and the Philippines), except Vietnam, are democratic system countries and have tracking technique using systems for mobility limitation and personal information management. Violation of human rights is allowed partly for the purpose of “repressing spread of coronavirus”. Such limitation of movement which bring penalty paying, mandatory of face masks, limitation of business suspension have been introduced already in the countries in Europe and the America. We cannot deny the fact that failures in the past were effective as a kind of “social vaccinations” in South Korea and Taiwan and regulatory measures, as social consensus, were applied. In the Philippines which consist of many islands, and India which has big land and population, had to decide to apply strong limitation of movement.
Japan did not take a hard line. But there was no “pandemic” in Japan like Europe and America. Under the COVID-19, I am carefully watching the gathering of denialists against face masks for the coronavirus. (Anti-Government denialists at anti-lockdown demonstration) Participants of such gatherings are so-called “anti-intellectualism” and we can say that, it reflects the values which have been cherished in Europe and the America.
The tone of the considerable press in Japan about the infection control measures in Korea has been “totalitarianism”. I trust “Korea as a democratic country” and have been looking that if control measures constrained, there will be a backlash. It was the “anti-Governmental demonstration” on August 15. I thought it was quite foolish for the participants to demonstrate. But it was certified that Korea is a democratic country despite being different from the America and Europe.
When we think in this way, Japanese case was exceptional. There was no authoritarian control measures and people’s backlash was not so strong despite a public-opinion poll showed that more than half of people were dissatisfied with the measures taken by the Government. There was “No-mask Event (Shibuya Cluster Festival)”. But it was dilapidated if we compare with Korea, America and Europe. “Voluntary restriction of movement” under the words “self-restraint” was pursued and use of Shinkansen at Obon holidays decreased significantly. It was “Japanese characteristics” which is different from the America and Europe where personal freedom is emphasized, and different from South Korea and Taiwan where authoritarianism remains, and different from China and Vietnam under authoritarianism itself.
It may be possible to say that individual taken measures have led anti-coronavirus measures in Japan. So-called “self-restraint policeman”, which is interpreted negatively, may be a part of “Japanese model”. We cannot overlook the case in Toshima Ward Office in Tokyo. Staff member of Toshima Ward Office were arrested threatened eating house having changed to “self-restraint policeman”. In other countries, the role of “self-restraint policeman” is performed by real policeman and we can see the particularity of Japan clearly there. (Of course, we cannot encourage self-restraint policeman because personal sanctions are not allowed by the penal law in Japan) We may be able to say KINDAICHI Kosuke (a detective) solve the case before policemen. (For your information, I am a fan of YOKOMIZO Masashi(novelist))
We must consider, however, the fact that Japanese lax regulations hindered economic recession. In the busy shopping districts in KUNITACHI city where I am living and our neighboring city TACHIKAWA, a lot of shops and restaurants were closed. A venerable stationery shop (established 81 years ago) and a steak house (established 30 years ago) closed. It will be difficult to pick up the economy without squelching a menace of the coronavirus to a certain degree.
Reports at SGRA café have made it clear that consistency of economy and epidemic preventions is not easy.
The lesson, which we learned from the war against the coronavirus during this half year, is that “it is quite difficult to have consistency in both economy and epidemic prevention”. That will not change until we find clear evidence of attenuation of the coronavirus or vaccine development. Most probably there will be no change next year in “repetition of control and expansion” as this year. Since our “wishful thinking” have been betrayed one after another, we must think in this way. It may be the most effective that we take measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus assuming the worst possible cases.
Recording of the Day
Jaeun_YUN / 2020 Raccoon,
Translated by Kazuo Kawamura
English checked by Sabina Koirala