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Hi Blog. Government incompetence is nothing new. There’s not much you can do when the expectation is one-way: The Man demands a promise from you, with punishments if you don’t comply, but if The Man doesn’t keep his promises, too bad, since there’s often no punishment for the Powers That Be.
That’s what’s happening under Japan’s new “self-quarantine” rules. Kyodo News reports that “up to 300 people per day are breaking the self-quarantine”. People, regardless of nationality. What is NOT evenly enforced regardless of nationality is the punishment.
As Kyodo notes, ‘The health ministry, which has asked for people to honor their pledge, has warned that penalties for noncompliance include publicly revealing names or, in the case of a foreign national, revocation of their status of residence and deportation.”
That’s very different. Especially since people are reporting to Magdalena Osumi of the Japan Times (see below) that there has been no follow-up from the government when it comes to helping people keep their pledge (and some confusion about how the rules are supposed to work). So if the GOJ messes things up and you’re a citizen, uh, your name gets made public. Big whoop. But if you’re NJ, through no fault of your own, you get deported. Your life in Japan is over.
As Debito.org has predicted might happen, this new Covid “Self-Quarantine” regime has become yet another means to ethnically-cleanse Japan of its foreigners. As if revolving-door visas and insecure job statuses aren’t enough.
And of course, the Kyodo article neither questions the disproportionality of the punishment or reports on the incompetence of the government.
What follows is the Kyodo article. After that, a request from Magdalena Osumi for information about the government incompetence for an upcoming article. Read on if you have something to share with her. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.
Up to 300 people per day breaking self-quarantine pledge in Japan
KYODO NEWS – May 1, 2021, Courtesy of Magdalena Osumi at the Return to Japan Support Group
Up to around 300 people every day, who had pledged to self-isolate upon arrival into Japan as part of measures to contain the novel coronavirus, could not be confirmed to be in their quarantine location or were found to be some distance away, the health ministry and a contracted medical service firm said Saturday.
The daily checkups have been conducted as part of strengthened border control measures since the end of March to keep imported cases of the coronavirus at bay and target all arrivals into the country for a 14-day period.
But with the whereabouts of some people unable to be confirmed during the period, the ministry is now considering having private security companies pay visits to quarantine locations if the person cannot be reached for more than three days.
According to the ministry and the medical service company supporting the quarantine operation, an average of 24,000 people needed to be accounted for on a daily basis during a 14-day self-quarantine period.
Of that number, around 200 to 300 people every day could not be confirmed to be in their pledged quarantine locations, with 70 percent failing to report their whereabouts to authorities and 30 percent found to be away from the locations.
A health ministry official has called on people not to rely too heavily on the results from tests conducted when they entered the country, as it is possible to get a false negative result during an incubation period.
“We want people to properly see through their quarantine,” the official said.
Japan now requires all arrivals into the country to provide COVID-19 negative test results taken within 72 hours of departure and be retested at the time of entry. Even if the results are negative, people are asked to pledge they will self-quarantine for 14 days in their home, a hotel or another facility.
People are also asked to install a location tracking app called OEL upon arrival, with notification messages requesting location information and health status sent on a daily basis during the quarantine period.
Those who fail to report their whereabouts are contacted individually via a Skype video call or other methods.
The health ministry, which has asked for people to honor their pledge, has warned that penalties for noncompliance include publicly revealing names or, in the case of a foreign national, revocation of their status of residence and deportation.
MAGDALENA OSUMI SAYS: Hello. Regarding this article about people breaking quarantine rules in Japan, I know that many people have had problems with applications they’re supposed to install after entering Japan, or haven’t received passwords to log in. I understand that’s one of the reasons why people are blamed for breaking the self-isolation rules and the pledge.
I would like to write about it for The Japan Times. Is there anyone who has experienced such problems with any of the tracking applications or had problems with reporting on their health condition and whereabouts during the 14-day quarantine period, and could share their experience with me? It will be greatly appreciated.
Magdalena’s JT email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Responses (anonymized and excerpted in places)
LACK OF OFFICIAL FOLLOWUP:
AB: Today is day 15 for me and I never received an OEL email and password. No Skype call. No WhatsApp call. No messages. All I did was the daily health update automated email.
CD: My [spouse] and I finished our quarantine never having received the OEL password, or a Skype call. We did receive the health questionnaire and reported our health daily.
EF: I never received a phone call from anyone.
GH: The thing that surprised me the most were the people that they stationed at Narita airport that were supposed to check that all these applications were installed. They were clearly not from the quarantine department or any other government agency. They were non native Japanese speakers and one of them had trouble conversing in Japanese at all. One Japanese man was getting very upset because he couldn’t understand how to install the applications on his phone. In my case, the person responsible couldn’t remember how to check if my location tracking was set up properly and made a mistake. Everything starts at the airport. I imagine some of the problems you are looking into happen because the apps aren’t set up right in the first place.
MO: They are understaffed so they had to get some help from somewhere else but it doesn’t seem to be organized well. I’ll keep that in mind.
CONFUSION ABOUT THE SYSTEM
IJ: I don’t know how they get that 300 number, for example I used OEL to check in at the quarantine hotel, and then check in again at home after 3 days. There’s a large distance in between, am I count as one of those 300?
KL: there r two “buttons” on the app, one to report a place of stay, which is used once u arrive at the place of quarantine, and another button for subsequent location check ins. If you have to change the place of quarantine, you need to click on the button reporting your new place of stay.
MN: However, the OEL alert only directs you to the I’m Here button. There were no instructions about checking in at the new location so I assumed pressing the I’m Here button will suffice, also assuming that the location will automatically be updated. I got a Skype call on my 4th day asking me to check in at my new location.
OP: Another vote for the two buttons being quite confusing — I kept pressing the “check in” button for three days instead of the “i’m here” – as the screens look almost exactly the same (same coloring and design) and “check in” could absolutely be interpreted as something along the lines of “daily check-in.” It feels like there are many ways to make an error here because of unclear app design.
QR: As for me, it didnt work a freakin single time
ST: IMO, all the written forms allude to the fact we are allowed [to go outside and exercise]. But apparently not. I was prepared to not leave my house, but then I read my forms saying we are allowed out if necessary and we must wear a mask and not catch public transport.
UV: i just spoke to a lady from immigration and going out to get food is ok, as it is a necessity. Provided you don’t go too far from where you are staying and practice safe measures i.e. mask and social distancing, you should be ok. Going on walks I would probably say are not ok though.
WX: no, it’s not ok. The pledge you signed specifically states that you must stay at home or risk deportation or a 10 million yen fine. If you get caught, the defense of a “random, unnamed person at immigration said it was ok” isn’t really going to cut it. And the more people that think they’re entitled to break the rules, the tougher the rules are going to get for everyone.
YZ: I think this is so typical of Japanese nuanced messaging… I am in [not Tokyo] at the moment and we have been told since the end of last year to avoid all unnecessary and non-urgent trips out of the city….. ‘if we can help it’. I have adhered to this, yet many of my colleagues have been attending conference or business meetings all over Japan! Am considering a trip back [overseas], but will have to quarantine in Tokyo since no private transport option possible. I can do 14 days in a hotel but not 14 without exercise and fresh air – wiling to go for a walk at 5am with a mask on!
ZA: It’s a possible 1 million fine, not 10. The only actual penalty currently is making your name public. The wording specifically says:
For 14 days after arrival in Japan, (1) I must stay at home or the accommodation listed in 2. below. I must consult the public health center and Health Monitoring Center for Overseas Entrants in advance when I need to change my accommodations due to unavoidable circumstances. (2) I must not have contact with anyone who I do not live with. (3) I must not use public transportation (trains, buses, cabs/taxies, domestic flights, etc.) for 14 days after entering Japan.
However, I would advise people to abide by the spirit as much as possible.
This is the Japanese of the pledge:
入国後 14 日間、①自宅又は宿泊場所など下記（２）に記載する住所で待機すること。なお、やむを得ない理由により待機場所を変更する必要が生じた場合は、自宅又は宿泊施設を管轄する保健所及び入国者健康管理センターに事前相談すること。②他者との接触を行わないこと。③公共交通機関（不特定多数が利用する電車、バス、タクシー、国内線の飛行機等）を使用しないこと。
It’s the same as the English. No public transit or taxis, must reside in the same place unless unavoidable, no contact with other people.
According to many people I have spoken to both online and in person have stated that immigration officials at the airport and by phone have expressly stated that they can go out during quarantine. This is exactly why people are confused. This information is not in the official pledge travelers are required to sign. My suggestion for your report is to contact the immigration authorities directly and find out the truth. Print that in the newspaper so everyone, Japanese and gaijin are aware of the rules and one group doesn’t get blamed for the continued spread of the virus. The problem is with immigration and their hypocrisy.
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