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What’s Happening Now in Fukuoka & Japan in March 2021

04/15/2021

Japan considering coronavirus variant test for all inbound travellers – Nationwide

Japan is considering requiring all inbound travellers to undergo a test for new variants of the coronavirus, health minister Norihisa Tamura said. Under the current system, all people arriving from 24 designated countries where coronavirus variants are known to exist are required to take additional testing three days after entering Japan. Authorities also carefully monitor whether they are strictly observing a 14-day self-quarantine period.

While speaking of the need to tighten border controls on an NHK television program, Tamura also said the government is considering contracting private security companies to monitor those who should be self-quarantining at their accommodation to make sure they adhere to the rules.

Japan tightened border controls on travellers from seven additional countries, mainly from Europe. Japanese and other nationals who have recently travelled through Estonia, the Czech Republic, Pakistan, Hungary, Poland, Luxembourg and Lebanon fall under the scope of the system.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga formally announced the lifting of the emergency in Tokyo and neighbouring Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama, the last prefectures of Japan under the measure since early January. Under the measure, people were urged to refrain from nonessential outings and restaurants and bars told to close by 8 p.m. On the same TV program, Shigeru Omi, head of the government’s COVID-19 subcommittee, warned that “a rebound in infections is possible to occur in the next one or two months.” Omi said it is vital to prevent the further spread of the virus until people aged 65 or older in Japan are being vaccinated, with that group eligible to start receiving shots in mid-April.

Suicides among Japanese students hit record high in 2020 – Nationwide

The number of suicides among school children in Japan totalled 499 in 2020, up 100 from a year earlier and marking the highest level on record, according to government data. Health ministry officials attributed the increase to worries among young people about their studies and career paths, as well as family discord as they spend more time at home in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 2020 tally was the highest since comparable data became available in 1980, according to the National Police Agency. Of the total, 14 were in elementary school, up six, 146 were in junior high school, up 34, and 339 were in senior high school, up 60. Pupils in elementary schools are aged between 6 and 12 in Japan. Suicides committed by high school girls particularly surged to 140 from 80. By month, the tally for all school children more than doubled in June and stayed notably higher for the rest of the year as the country faced second and third waves of coronavirus infections.

Suicides were almost unchanged between January and May, a period covering much of the first wave of the pandemic in the country and the first COVID-19 state of emergency. Childline Support Center Japan, a Tokyo-based organization running a network of helplines for young people up to 18 years old, said parents and teachers must increase efforts to look after children who have grown vulnerable as home environments become more stressful during the coronavirus pandemic.

The number of suicides among minors totalled 777, up 118, the NPA said, citing reasons such as depression and other mental illnesses, and distress about the future or slumping academic performance. The number of suicides in Japan was also up 912 to 21,081 in the reporting year, marking the first rise since 2009 in the midst of the global financial crisis, according to the NPA. Suicides involving women increased 395 to 7,026, while cases involving men dropped 23 to 14,055 for the 11th straight year of decline.

Police data cited health issues, family problems and economic hardships as motives behind the surge in suicides by women. The total figures moved up in the July-December period, with October hitting the highest level at 2,230. Some experts suspect that suicides by celebrities such as actor Haruma Miura in July and actress Yuko Takeuchi in September, might have propelled the increase.

Travelers entering Japan have to install location confirmation app, Skype on smartphones – Nationwide

This month a new policy went into effect for travellers entering Japan through Haneda and Narita airports, the two major international air hubs for the Tokyo area. Enacted by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the regulation affects all classes of inbound travellers (Japanese citizens, foreign residents of Japan, and temporary business/tourism travellers).

As of March 18, inbound travellers are required to install three apps on their smartphones before leaving the airport. The three apps are the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare’s COCOA COVID-19 contact tracing app, Skype, and OSSMA, a location confirmation app. The combined apps are to be used in confirming compliance with the 14 days of self-quarantine that inbound travellers are required to complete before moving about the general population.

So, what if you don’t have a smartphone, or are using an outdated model that can’t run the apps? You will be required to rent a phone that can from the airport and pay for it out of your own pocket. In addition to showing that the apps are installed and running, inbound travellers will also be required to sign a written pledge to comply with the protocols. Failure to do so can result in public publishing of the violator’s name and, in the case of foreign nationals, deportation, including the revocation of residence status for foreigners living in Japan on work or study visas. The requirement is expected to be expanded to entrants in Japan via other airports in the near future.


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