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Hi Blog. Debito.org has talked about how Japanese officialdom keeps trying to construe COVID as something “foreign”, i.e., something exogenous that affects foreigners more than Japanese people (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here for example). To the point where there’s even a research institute (Riken) speculating that Japanese are genetically less susceptible to COVID. Seriously.
And that unscientific attitude is reflected in Japanese government policy that treats anyone with a Japanese passport as somehow less contagious than somebody with a foreign passport, regardless of individual vaccination status. (That of course means that a porous border and more lax quarantine rules for VIPs and “Japanese” entrants — including those without Japanese citizenship but WITH Japanese blood — get in and spread the disease anyway. Omicron is in Japan to stay, brought in by Japanese, no matter how much you’re trying to blame it on, for example, the US Military.)
It’s gotten to the point where even the WHO has decried these policies as unscientific:
(Kyodo News Dec 2, 2021): Michael Ryan, head of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Program, said of Japan’s ban on new entries of foreigners, “Epidemiologically, I find it hard to understand the principle there. Does the virus read your passport? Does the virus know your nationality or where you are legally resident? Our concern here is that we apply public health principles, not political principles, to selecting measures that are used to control the spread of diseases. The idea that you can put a hermetic seal on most countries is frankly not possible.”
But one other factor in all this gaijin-bashing is an uncritical media, even from foreigner-friendly media outlets like the Mainichi Shinbun. Where they report unconfirmed statements from a local mayor that people had contact “with foreign nationals” (“kaigai no hito“, or “overseas people” in the original Japanese), and scare the public all over again.
Article follows, then my comment:
Central Japan prefecture’s 1st omicron case linked to contact with foreigners at job: mayor
December 28, 2021 (Mainichi Japan), courtesy of JK
SHIZUOKA — Following the first confirmed coronavirus omicron variant case in the central Japan city of Shizuoka in Shizuoka Prefecture on Dec. 27, Mayor Nobuhiro Tanabe said at a press conference, “He (the patient) is confirmed to have had contact with foreign nationals at work, and community transmission is unlikely.”
According to the Shizuoka Municipal Government, the patient was earlier confirmed infected with the coronavirus and has mild symptoms. Genome analysis by the National Institute of Infectious Diseases revealed he was positive for the omicron variant. Two people who had had close contact with the man tested negative for the virus.
The patient has no recent history of overseas travel, and came into contact with foreign nationals at work. The city’s public health center explained that it determined the route of infection was strongly suspected to have been via contact at work.
The man received his second coronavirus vaccine by August. He developed symptoms on Dec. 23, was tested the following day, and hospitalized on Dec. 25. He was confirmed positive for the omicron variant the next day.
Other than the two people deemed close contacts, 12 of the 13 people involved in the same work tested negative. One still awaits their results.
(Japanese original by Hideyuki Yamada, Shizuoka Bureau)
静岡市でオミクロン株初確認 海外から来た人と接触 市中感染は否定的
COMMENT: A few more simple questions needed to be asked of Mr. Mayor before his speculation got passed through by the Mainichi editors, and allowed to filter into the public sphere:
- Were these “overseas people” freshly-arrived in Japan from overseas despite a near-blanket ban on any foreigners at the border?
- Were these “overseas people” in fact foreign residents who were here anyway, therefore those people are in fact part of “the community” (meaning, yes, “community transmission”).
- Is there any evidence that these individual “overseas people” were in fact COVID-positive? Were they tested? Was there any other vector testing of other people in the community? Or are we just simply assuming that foreigners are more likely than Japanese to have COVID and leaving it at that?
We should know. But we don’t. Why not? Because the constant and uncritical assumptions that foreigners a) are vectors, and b) are not part of the “Japanese community” at large anyway, are precisely what I mean when I refer to Japan’s Embedded Racism. Presumptions like these are so normalized as to be embedded and unquestioned in Japan, even by media professionals who are supposed to be asking these questions before they let these racist ideas infect and spread throughout society. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.
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