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Hi Blog. Here’s is a German TV show reporting on what life is like in Japanese Covid quarantine. At first, it seems like an April Fool’s article, but it rings all too familiar when one deals with Japanese bureaucracy, especially when it gets paranoid about contact with the outside world and contagion. (I remember once on an NHK news broadcast during the Avian Flu scare in 2003, where bureaucrats were filmed positioning chairs 2 meters apart in an international airport quarantine zone, measuring down to the millimeter (yes, with a measuring tape) the distance between them. Phew! That one millimeter makes all the difference.)
Anyway, read what the German media has to say about current life in quarantine in Japan (which TV news show Tagesschau compares to a prison, but with very Japanese-bureaucracy touches), and how Olympic participants will be bypassing it all. “Measuring-tape Science” at work again. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.
From: Maximilian Doe
Subject: Great and nauseating article by “Tagesschau” (Review of the Day), Germany’s apex TV news, on the latest quarantine rules for overseas travelers returning to Japan
Date: April 1, 2021
To: Debito Arudou <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Maximilian Doe here. I wanted to draw you attention to a great and nauseating article by the “Tagesschau”, Germany’s apex TV news broadcasting (Germany’s equivalent to Britain’s BBC News). It deals with the current quarantine rules for incoming travelers and how they are enforced.
And here is my translation. Comment from me follows:
Corona-Entry to Japan
Tagesschau April 1, 2021, 12:17 p.m., translation courtesy of MD
The government of Japan gets seemingly nervous a couple of months to the Olympic Games: Many travelers from abroad have to go to a quarantine hotel – and that is a ripsnorter: No fresh air, roll call in the morning, cold food.
By Kathrin Erdmann, ARD Studio Tokyo
Lively singing of birds – that sounds nice at first glance, but the truth is that it is a sudden insolation forced upon the guests in a Covid quarantine hotel in Tokyo. And it is cynical, because all incoming travelers are sealed off from the outside world starting with boarding the plane for Japan. The windows of the hotel cannot be opened, the air-conditioning does not work. Those you want to exchange air by opening the door of the room just a crack wide will cause a crisscross of voices. The telephone will ring. Japan is watching you – and is scolding you as if you are a school child.
Roll call in the morning with spit test
There are roll calls at 6:30 in the morning. All who are captive the third or the sixth day have to do a Covid spit test. It will be collected one hour later, but that way you have plenty of time to collect your spit. And it wakes up everyone else, too.
Japan has decided two important things just a couple of weeks ago. First: Those who enter the country have to undergo three days of publicly financed mandatory quarantine and have to self-isolate afterwards for eleven days. Everything is rigidly double-checked with Apps, Skype, and written inquiries twice daily.
Second: The internationally accepted PCR-test is not enough for Japan’s bureaucracy any more. Now Japan demands swabs from the nose and throat. Those who do not agree to these swabs by signing and stamping must spend six days of quarantine without fresh air. Many travelers were affected by this during the last days, because these new rules were only mentioned in small print, a practice that also enraged multiple European embassies according to our information.
Food supply under surveillance
Three times a day a young Japanese voice wordily informs, that food will now be hanged at the doorknob and that it is prohibited to open the door in any case. Another announcement comes after the delivery has ended. Then you can take the food in, provided you are wearing a mask, and it is watched by a guard at the floor, who is standing there the entire day wearing a mask and face shield.
At the first time people curiously look into the bag with the food, but the joy dissipates already with the dinner at 6 p.m.: The food is always cold, it is always a pile of dry rice, always three snippets of white cabbage, often thin slices of pork with a rim of fat, and half a liter of water to gobble it down.
Alcohol is prohibited unless you coincidentally have some in your luggage. It is said that those who are hungry can – after extensive checks, of course – call friends to bring them dry food to the hotel.
Complicated way home
When the last gong rings after three or six days and multiple Corona tests the people affected are not allowed to take a taxi home. To not bother the neighborhood everybody has to go back to the airport first – probably with a colored rubber band at the arm again – and then they can go home.
Many Japanese are so embarrassed by this treatment of the bureaucracy towards incoming travelers that they apologize.
Participants in the Olympic Games are exempt from this
Participants in the Olympic Games and their teams are reportedly exempt from all of this next summer. According to current planning they can enter without any quarantine – and if they cannot bring the correct corona test Japan will probably welcome them anyway. After all, Japan wants to showcase itself as a tomodachi, a friend.
Comment from MD: I first hoped that it’s a very bad April Fools, but it wasn’t, since the article is still up today. It ranked #2 in the ranking of the most read articles at the time of translating, so people are curious about it, and rightly so.
This policy apparently applies to all returnees regardless of nationality, so the treatment is not necessarily racial discrimination. But it’s nonetheless a very problematic arrangement, basically punishing returnees with jail-like confinement. Also the part about food supply is dire. (sarcasm warning) I suppose Jewish and Muslim returnees will be extremely delighted by a bag of cold pork. Best regards, MD
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