NILS Fukuoka Times

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What’s Happening Now Fukuoka & Japan in June 2020


Gov’t to promote staggered holidays to curb congestion, virus spread – Nationwide

The Japanese government stressed the need for individuals to take their holidays at different times of the year in its annual tourism report released Tuesday to reduce congestion and the spread of the novel coronavirus. The government also advocates in the latest white paper measures to limit contact between people at accommodation facilities to lower the risk of contracting the virus. Given a 99.9 percent plunge from a year earlier in inbound tourists to 2,900 in April due to strict border controls, domestic travellers will be “key to the recovery” of tourism demand in the immediate future, it said.

The government had already been advocating for a change in travel routines before the pandemic began earlier this year, but with little success. To encourage staggered holidays, the latest tourism report proposes workstyle reforms such as a “workation,” in which people are advised to work remotely at their holiday destination. The report also proposes accommodation operators introduce their facilities to visitors with written materials instead of explaining them in person during the check-in process. At hot spring inns, it recommends limiting the number of people who can enter the baths at one time.

Regarding the government’s “Go To” domestic travel subsidy and coupon campaign to cope with the impact of the virus, the white paper said it will be launched once the pandemic settles down to “substantially build up demand.” Preparation of the campaign has been put on hold amid criticism over its huge costs.

Office cluster pushes Tokyo coronavirus cases to 6-week high of 55 – Tokyo

The daily number of new coronavirus cases in Tokyo climbed to 55 on Wednesday, Governor Yuriko Koike said, the highest tally in six weeks after a cluster of infections was found at an unnamed office in the Japanese capital. The metropolis, with a population of 14 million, has sought to keep new cases below 20 a day after Japan lifted a state of emergency on May 25. Tokyo has said it could re-impose restrictions if the figure crept up to 50 or more – something that last happened on May 5.

Speaking before the latest figure was reported, Koike had warned of a “large number” as more positive test results followed a cluster of seven infections previously found at the office. “Clusters in the workplace have become a big problem lately” as people have emerged from the capital’s “Stay Home” initiative, she told reporters. “Businesses like eateries are taking steps to create partitions and such, but it’s difficult to see what kind of precautions are being taken at offices. Koike said that in addition to the latest results from the office, more than 10 cases emerged from group testing in Shinjuku – an area known for its nightlife – on Wednesday.

Still, Tokyo – like the rest of Japan – has been spared the kind of explosive outbreak seen elsewhere, with some 5,800 coronavirus cases and 323 deaths so far. In all of Japan, about 18,000 have tested positive and 965 have died so far from the COVID-19 illness.

Glitches force gov’t to temporarily shut down virus contact-tracing app – Nationwide

The Japanese government has pledged to fix within a week bugs that have caused its coronavirus contact-tracing smartphone app to be shut down, the health minister said Tuesday. The free app, which was launched Friday and downloaded around 3.71 million times as of Tuesday morning, erroneously accepts ID numbers not issued by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, Katsunobu Kato, the minister responsible for the system, said at a press conference.

The issue has forced the ministry to temporarily stop the app from issuing alerts in any instance. People who test positive for the coronavirus are issued the so-called “processing numbers” that the app uses to confirm they have the virus. When working, the app was created to alert people when they have been near someone infected with the coronavirus. The issue is not expected to have caused false alerts, as those who enter non-existent processing numbers are not deemed as having tested positive by the app. The ministry will not issue processing numbers for the moment and aims to release an updated version of the app with fixes in a week.

The processing number issue is not the only problem, however. Other defects include the wrong download date being displayed, Kato said. When individuals who have downloaded the app come into contact with one another at a distance of 1 meter or less for 15 minutes or more, their smartphones interact via Bluetooth and automatically log the event and encrypt the information.

The record will remain in their devices for up to 14 days before it is automatically invalidated. If a user tested positive for the coronavirus and registered as such with the app by typing in their processing number, others with the app installed on their phone who come into contact with the individual will receive an alert. To alleviate privacy concerns, the registration of positive test results does not require names, phone numbers or other personal information of users to be entered.


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