Coronavirus, COVID-19, Uncategorized

I LOVE NAKAME💖ナカメから日本の今を伝えたい!The Japanese government promises to boost hospital capacity, but is it enough?

male guard in black and white dress standing infront of train station

With the election just days away, Japan’s new prime minister Fumio Kishida has promised to increase hospital capacity by 20%. This follows the events of the summer during which hospitals were stretched to the breaking point and COVID patients were told by the government to recover at home.

That scandal partially cost the previous prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, his job. Suga’s lack of leadership and complete indifference to the rising coronavirus case, among other issues, led to a steady decrease in his popularity, and now Japan has a new prime minister.

It does raise the question whether the ruling Liberal Democratic Party will be reelected anyway. The LDP seemed like it could have been on its way to some big losses in the election, but with a new face slapped on the same old party, will it be enough for them to stay in power?

We will know by the end of the month. But it is interesting to note that it has taken this long for the government to act. The medical system began to collapse over the summer, and now in the fall we get an announcement. Can Japan afford much more of this so-called leadership?



I LOVE NAKAMEナカメから日本の今を伝えたい!Peach Airline travel passes and reviving tourism

In an effort to boost business during the pandemic, Peach Airline will offer monthly travel passes starting in November. With the pass, travelers can take any of Peach’s thirty-three domestic routes. There is no flight limitation or cap and you can travel as much as you’d like during the month.

There are two different types of passes: Light and Standard. The Light pass is more basic and covers only airfare while the Standard pass includes one free checked bag and seat selection. The first thirty Light passes will cost 19,800 yen then the price jumps to 29800 yen. The Standard pass is more expensive starting at 29,800 yen for the first thirty sold then increasing to 39,800 yen.

This offer comes amidst the Japanese government revisiting the idea of Go To Travel. At the peak of COVID-19, the campaign was put to rest, however with the decrease in COVID-19 cases, perhaps it will be restarted. These two programs would work in tandem and signal an effort to revive the tourism industry that has been hit hard these last few years.

Furthermore, these domestic travel programs show the government’s confidence in the decreasing number of Coronavirus cases. The government must feel that it is safe to travel again, and the pandemic is not seen to be as much of a threat. The next question is when the country will allow foreign tourists to visit.



I LOVE NAKAME💖ナカメから日本の今を伝えたい!Tokyo Gets Shaken Up

A map shows the intensity of Thursday’s earthquake in the Kanto area. | JAPAN METEOROLOGICAL AGENCY

Last night, a magnitude 5.9 earthquake stuck the Tokyo metropolitan area, leaving property damage and various injuries in its wake. Thankfully, no one seems to have died in the disaster, and most of the damage seems fairly minimal. But the quake serves as a reminder that a big tremor can strike at any moment.

When the earthquake hit, social media lit up with various messages. Warnings were sent to people’s smartphones about it. Commenters on websites and social media claimed it was the biggest temblor they’ve felt since 2011.

There was no tsunami warning after the quake, and it seems pretty clear that, overall, the earthquake wasn’t that bad. There were some injuries due to the shaking, and a train that tried for an emergency stop partially derailed.

But the biggest problem of all seems to be the inconvenience it caused to train commuters. Delays on various train lines were seemingly endless, and some continued even into the morning. Those already home when the late-night tremor occurred had to feel especially lucky they missed all the delays.

Who knows when the next big one will happen. We all have to be on our guard and prepared for the worst. This earthquake is just our latest reminder.


Coronavirus, COVID-19, state of emergency

I LOVE NAKAME💖ナカメから日本の今を伝えたい!Japan Ends State of Emergency on Thursday

On Tuesday, the Japanese government announced that it will lift the state of emergency/quasi-emergency in all the affected prefectures on September 30th. The restrictions will be scaled back slowly as more people are vaccinated this fall. But what does that mean?

Contrary to the announcement that the state of emergency is over, several prefectural governors have decided to keep many restrictions in place (so it is or isn’t over…?) For example, restaurants serving alcohol are still requested to close early in Tokyo. Perhaps what I’ve learned from the restrictions is the government’s apparent distaste for alcohol is palpable. In any case, will these “requests” be ignored since the state of emergency is technically over or heeded? We will find out this week, so keep your eyes peeled for alcohol-serving, local izakayas

Furthermore, with this step by step approach, traveling will be easier and quarantine will be relaxed for some. Before, Japan had a 14 day quarantine that included possible time at a COVID-19 facility. Now, if you have a new vaccine passport that shows you are fully vaccinated, you only need to quarantine for 10 days at home. However, the rules depend on what country you are coming from. I have to admit, it is hard to keep up with all the rules and changes.

If this new approach backfires, then we will most likely face the state of emergency once again. I consider this Prime Minister Suga’s parting gift as he will happily give the next prime minister a “good luck” pat on the back and bid adieu. In the meantime, don’t forget your hand sanitizer and mask, and stay healthy!


Election, Politics, The United States of America, USA

I LOVE NAKAME💖ナカメから日本の今を伝えたい!Gov. Newsom Survives Recall

The biggest political news in the United States is that California Gov. Gavin Newsom, first elected to the job in November 2018, has survived his recall election by a healthy margin. As of today, Gov. Newsom has won about two-thirds of the vote.

For those of you in Japan, you may be wondering just what a recall election is. Good question. Most states in the U.S. don’t have them. Essentially, if voters can gather enough signatures to trigger a special recall election of the sitting governor (usually due to issues involving political corruption, incompetence, or other such concerns), then it is put on the schedule.

Most famously, Arnold Schwarzenegger won the California governorship in 2003 by ousting the sitting governor in a special recall election. The issues in that election were local to California. This time, however, they were national, meaning that voters were more concerned with Trump, COVID, and other such issues than things like local taxes.

That, of course, hurt the Republican candidates, as California is a heavily Democratic state. Schwarzenegger was able to win when the state was a bit less Democratic and by focusing on local issues. That’s just not what happened this time.

Gov. Newsom will be on the ballot again in November of next year. But, after this recall, his reelection seems all but assured. His record is quite impressive, and he has political skills to match. But we’ll have to wait and see what unfolds in the next gubernatorial election.



I LOVE NAKAME💖ナカメから日本の今を伝えたい!Vaccine Passport for Commerical Activities? I Think Not.

Japan has just released news that they plan to implement vaccine passports – an official document which certify that the owner has completed their vaccinations, and are fully inoculated with the owner’s name, passport, and date of inoculated being inserted in the official document – for commercial activities in a bid to bolster the stagnate economy. But what is this such a bad idea? Let me explain.

In the draft of the proposed plan, these documents will allow the owners to enter and use business premises with the caveat that the business are free to choose the level of service they will provide to these people. Can you see a problem here?

Even though the draft states that discriminatory behavior to those who either don’t possess or show their vaccine passports to the staff will not be allowed, who will police these actions? The fact that businesses are free to use what services they will provide their patron already sounds like a breeding grown for discrimination. While there are certainly people who willing choose not to get vaccinated because of their stance against vaccines, there are also plenty of people who cannot choose to get vaccinated, whether they are allergic, or otherwise. The fact that the government is indirectly encouraging people to gather in public area is also alarming, especially since even vaccinated people can either contract the virus and/or pass it to others.

I hope that this will not pass in government, but since it has already reached the stage of ‘consideration’, there is a highly likely, if not certain, chance of the proposal being put into action. And I, for one, am not looking forward to the disaster that will inevitably happen.


Four Seasons, Japan, Summer, Weather

Summer Ends in Tokyo

Fall is in the air, but it’s still summer! If the weather forecasts are to be believed (and when are they ever wrong?), there are a lot of clouds and rain in store for Tokyo for the next week and beyond. As we enter September, it seems clear that summer is effectively over for the year. Officially, there are still a few weeks left of the hottest season of the year, but, when you step outside, it sure does feel a lot like fall.

Evenings are the best example of this. Last night, for example, it distinctly felt like fall. Usually, in the middle of summer, even a rainy night will feel warm and humid. Last night was the opposite. All the telltale signs of fall were there. It was hard to believe that, just a couple of days ago, it was still August.

As fall approaches, that signals the end of the year. As they often do, this year flew right by. It was supposed to be the year that things got back to normal, but, as it’s increasingly clear, that won’t happen for a while — if ever. The pandemic is still raging, and it remains to be seen whether things can be brought under control. Let’s all hope that they can.

That aside, summer is usually too hot for most, so I’d imagine its end is welcome news for the majority of Tokyoites. Like anything else, I think there are pluses and minuses. For example, laundry is so easy in the summer. As the temperature gets colder, your laundry load only gets heavier. Whether that negative outweighs the positives is for each individual to decide. Let’s just hope things get better.


Coronavirus, Olympics, Tokyo, Tokyo 2020 Olympics

I LOVE NAKAME💖ナカメから日本の今を伝えたい!Paralympics to Begin Soon

Just when you thought the worst of the Tokyo Olympics was over, the Paralympic Games are set to open in Tokyo. While the number of athletes participating in the Games is a fraction of the number that attended the Olympics, it seems that Tokyo Gov. Koike is bent on creating a superspreader event.

The Japanese media are reporting that Ms. Koike wants to allow up to 140,000 children to attend the Paralympic Games. Officially, spectators are not allowed to attend, so it remains a mystery how this plan, such as it is, would be allowed to take place.

The spread of the delta variant has shown that children, who were once thought to become infected at a much lower rate, are just about as vulnerable to the virus as any adult. Of course, the children would return home and spread the virus to their parents and grandparents. One can only wonder what kind of “thinking” went into this idea.

All we can do is hope that our wise leaders won’t adopt this or any other foolish suggestions. It continues to astound me how much the Japanese government wants to shoehorn spectators into the Olympics and Paralympics beyond any sense of logic. Naturally, the regular citizens and residents have to bear the brunt of the risk, while the politicians get to reap all the financial rewards. Perhaps it’s time for new leadership.


Four Seasons, Life & Culture, Summer, Weather

I LOVE NAKAME💖ナカメから日本の今を伝えたい!Heatstroke cases rising in Japan

If you thought the coronavirus was the only thing you needed to avoid this summer, think again. Heatstroke has been on the rise this summer, which should not be a surprise to anyone. Japan‘s summers are notoriously hot and humid, which can very often lead to cases of heatstroke.

Temperatures tend to be at their peak during the middle of the day (late morning and early afternoon), so that would be the time to avoid being outside as much as possible. It may sound like one of the most obvious things in the world, but it is vital to stay hydrated and drink lots of water. It could save your life.

This situation makes the recent Tokyo Olympics even more questionable. Japan simply got lucky that there weren’t more severe heatstroke cases, although there were some close calls. That said, the Paralympics are still on the horizon, and who knows what awaits those athletes.

Heatstroke and coronavirus make for a dangerous combination, so please stay safe this summer. It is up to all of us to take the necessary precautions to ensure that we don’t get sick. Be sure to do whatever you need to do to stay healthy.


Coronavirus, COVID-19, Olympics

I LOVE NAKAME💖ナカメから日本の今を伝えたい!The Olympics Are Finally Here, But Who Is Paying Attention?

Despite overwhelming opposition by the citizens of Japan, the Tokyo Olympics have finally started after months of speculation about whether they would ultimately get cancelled. The massive contracts involved virtually guaranteed from the beginning that they would take place as planned, which only leaves the damage they will cause to be sorted out.

Coronavirus cases in Tokyo are just now beginning to rival the record highs seen in January brought on by the New Year celebrations. Over the four-day weekend, the number of tests dropped to abysmal levels, the upshot of which is about half the 2,000 or so tests conducted turned out to be positive. This is certainly not a good sign of things to come.

Meanwhile, both Mr. Suga and Ms. Koike continue to say publicly that the Olympics have been proceeding smoothly with no cause for alarm. But these assurances fly in the face of the more than 100 positive coronavirus cases already reported from within the so-called Olympic bubble. If this is success, how will we recognize failure?

While much of the media have been hyping up the Olympic competitions that are currently happening, it is strange to enjoy vicarious wins in sports that people only watch in four-year intervals when the highly infectious Delta variant continues to gain a foothold in Tokyo. Watching somebody else’s gold medal victory won’t amount to much when you’re in an ICU, hooked up to a ventilator.

It‘s time for politicians to stop being silly and get serious. The Olympics are a silly distraction from the public health crisis facing Japan. World leaders are able to waltz right through the airport with no quarantines whatsoever and enjoy the bread and circuses that our tax dollars are funding for their entertainment. It’s time for a change.