Updated: May 8
Writer: Dara Ayu | Illustrator: Safira Marini Wikantyasning
After approximately 2 months since its first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus, Japan was initially considered as one of the major international puzzles for having avoided the death tolls that have affected its neighboring countries. Now, it seems to be in a little bit of a pickle to the point where drastic measures have been taken. Starting from the Olympics that have been postponed to a date beyond 2020 as well as the state of emergency declaration for 7 prefectures, Japan and its people are starting to feel the pressure brought by the pandemic.
Fear of Financial Losses Looms Over Japan As days have passed since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s declaration, numerous businesses are set to be closed to further contain the spread of the outbreak. With this comes the feared financial losses that business owners will have to suffer from as more residents have been “requested” to stay at home except for doing essential tasks.
Meanwhile, the residents themselves are also facing a similar financial worry that comes with the outbreak. Workers are on the edge of their seats from waiting for news regarding work termination as some companies have started dismissing more employees in hopes of salvaging their business. The government may not be able to outweigh the usual turnaround from monthly salaries or daily profits with their efforts, but perhaps residents whose incomes have fallen sharply might deem the government’s recent emergency economic stimulus package as a small glimmer of hope. The package includes wiring ￥100,000 to resident’s bank accounts as early as May. Those who are eligible include anyone who is registered as a residence as of April 27th in which afterward, they would have to apply by either filling out a form, which will be mailed to their registered address, or online through the government website for My Number cardholders. Of course as of right now, the option to apply in English remains undecided, so perhaps for those of you who are lacking in their Japanese language skills, you might want to consider downloading a translation application.
Brief Look in Beppu As for the businesses that have remained open in Beppu, they have been really accommodating in ensuring the safety of their workers and sticking with what the government has “requested”. After having a little chat over the phone with Karla and Yasha, a second-year APU student who are both working part-time in two different restaurants, they briefly explained how they have always been given a pair of gloves and masks to be worn during their shifts. Of course the reduced amount of shifts came as expected, seeing as more people have started staying in their own homes and therefore getting customers are starting to become more difficult.
Shortage in Medical Supplies Aside from the financial difficulties that seem to be haunting Japan, its medical supplies might not be enough if the outbreak continues to spread. Like its neighboring countries, various hospitals’ masks, protective gear, and beds have been on the verge of running out, and as a result there have been many recent cases of medical staff wearing raincoats and even trash bags when treating patients. Fortunately, according to an article by Japan Times, Masayoshi Son, the CEO of Softbank Group Corp, said to have secured a monthly supply of millions of masks for Japan without taking any profit. A similar effort is in the making by the government, for they will work together with Japan Post Co. to distribute two cloth masks to every household that has registered their address to the local post office. Compared to Son’s initiatives, this has been widely criticized on social media for being inadequate, but all in all the state of emergency was just recently declared and therefore perhaps we all should hold on to our hopes that the current situation will soon turn around for the better.