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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: email@example.com
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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23 comments on “Kyodo: “300 people per day re-entering Japan breaking COVID self-quarantine”. But NJ report Govt incompetence, which punishes them disproportionately.”
Glad you’re follow this story up Dr.Debito.
I commented a couple of weeks ago that the ‘300’ a day comment was deliberately misleading an anti-NJ way.
And now this;
‘During the ruling party’s Foreign Affairs committee meeting Wednesday, the committee chief, Masahisa Sato, voiced his outrage at punishments for those who violate quarantine being taken too lightly and urged the government to punish rule-breakers.
“The fact that more than 300 people cannot be contacted in this situation means that it is not just a water leak, but a burst water pipe that has flooded the area,” he said.‘
The government’s app is not fit for purpose, and a member of the government is screeching about ‘a flood’ of infected NJ freely infecting Japan with no sense of irony; it’s not like they aren’t responsible for the situation in the first place!
You could almost say they are doing it on purpose.
I start to say they’re botching it on purpose. For what? To finally sway a critical mass of the population in favor of the idea that Japan needs the authoritarian constitution those LDP gramps dream of. The generic excuse of “we can’t introduce stricter measures because of constitutional rights blah blah” despite every other developed and more liberal democracy can without replacing their constitutions also fits into this picture.
Well yes, I do believe that since last year the LDP government has deliberately done as little as possible in terms of using social restrictions to contain covid. My belief is that they are disingenuously attempting to present the Japanese public with a false choice;
Scared of catching covid due to lack of government imposed restrictions? Are you more scared of that than right wing recidivist aspects of ‘constitutional reform’?
If ‘yes’, then vote to give the LDP a free hand in constitutional reform and taking away human rights and freedoms of speech etc.
If ‘no’, then you proles get what you deserve, the LDP ‘erai hito’ have a sense of entitlement so expansive that they honestly think ordinary people deserve it if they won’t ‘do as they’re told’.
The LDP rank and file politicians have no institutional memory; they don’t understand that the NJ=danger narrative is a myth that they created themselves in years gone by to control the masses- now the LDP themselves are controlled by their own myth, oblivious to its origin and original purpose; they are believing their own lie.
Hence, ANY problem is automatically an issue of ‘dangerous’ NJ versus ‘safe’ Japanese.
A flood, you say? Of potentially covid +ve people? Entering the country?
There’s no need to explain that these people are Japanese, just look at the language and the way the issue is framed and presented, and the ‘automatic’ assumption is that daily 300 rabid NJ plague carriers are arriving in Japan like a zombie horde.
That’s the power of these narrative ‘myths’ the LDP have created and are now controlled by.
As if on cue!
The ‘we could manage the pandemic better if you let us change the constitution’ trick!
Explains why this joker, this two-time loser is suddenly back on the scene- ‘did someone say ‘constitutional revision’?’. Pathetic Shin-chan.
Only the LDP could proclaim giving the government so much power that a change to the Constitution is necessary while simultaneously declaring that the Olympics can still be safely held. It’s black comedy.
Actually, thinking of my May 12th post above, I’d develop that idea further.
When the awareness that the ‘myth of Japanese uniqueness’ is just a Meiji-era state-building nationalist tool is forgotten (as it has been) and is widely believed to be a ‘fact’ by vast swathes of society (as it is now), the inevitable outcome is that the necessities of objective reality are in conflict with this myth and subordinate to it.
JAL flight 123.
Survivors of the crash died of exposure and injuries waiting for rescue that had to delay launch until following day due to the unique way of doing Japanese things that as a necessity precludes accepting immediate US military help with a night rescue.
Government response was delayed due to the need to do things in the ‘Japanese way’.
Fukushima triple nuclear meltdown.
Japan’s pride had it’s government proclaiming on live TV ‘there is no meltdown’ at previously the same moment BBC was broadcasting that there was a triple nuclear meltdown.
Bizarrely, this news article appeared days ago;
Note the headline; ‘Japan feared US military would take control of Fukushima response’.
Why doesn’t headline read; ‘Japan’s response to Fukushima so opaque US military considered intervention’?
The point is this, to a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
To a society that has used geographical and linguistic barriers to insulate itself from reality, it has been able to indulge its myths to such an extent that objective reality no longer matters.
Hence Covid response.
I’m not the only one who thinks Japan’s poor crisis management skills are a legacy of imperial Japanese era ideology!
Magdalena Osumi as of today has an article out on this. Excerpting:
Arrivals to Japan worry that flawed tech shows them as violating quarantine
BY MAGDALENA OSUMI
Japan Times, May 12, 2021
A growing number of people who have recently arrived in Japan are raising concerns that malfunctioning monitoring tools and confusing guidelines may have put them on the government’s blacklist for violating quarantine.
Some have experienced problems with reporting their location or health condition, or have been confused as to which rules apply to them and which do not.
Arrivals are asked to install a location-tracking app called Overseas Entrants Locator (OEL), with notification messages requesting location information and health status sent on a daily basis during the quarantine period. They are also asked to install other applications, such as one that notifies people of a close contact with those who have been infected. Those who fail to report are individually contacted by a monitoring team affiliated with the health ministry.
But some users who have downloaded the apps say they are not working as they should.
OEL has only a 1.5 star rating on the Apple App Store, and many Japanese and foreign users have claimed in reviews that they did not receive passwords to log in or that notifications were easily missed. Others reported technical errors that made them unable to check in. […]
Those who fail to report their whereabouts and do not comply with quarantine protocols may have their names and other personal information disclosed. If they are a foreign national, they may even have their residence status revoked.
The health ministry has said that up to around 300 people every day could not be confirmed to be at their quarantine location or were found to be some distance away.
During the ruling party’s Foreign Affairs committee meeting Wednesday, the committee chief, Masahisa Sato, voiced his outrage at punishments for those who violate quarantine being taken too lightly and urged the government to punish rule-breakers.
“The fact that more than 300 people cannot be contacted in this situation means that it is not just a water leak, but a burst water pipe that has flooded the area,” he said. […]
It is unclear whether Japanese nationals were among those whose whereabouts could not be confirmed during the quarantine period, as such information has not been disclosed. Some foreign residents worry that the Japanese public may shift the blame for infections detected at airports onto them.
Full article at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/05/12/national/tech-flaws-quarantine-violation/
I’m the government/I’m the government/I’m the reason nothing works!
Yeah, I know MST3K was singing about the US government, it still works here!
Meanwhile gossip magazine “Friday” pumps out xenophobic propaganda blaming incoming NJ for the ongoing high number of infections.
What NJ FFS?!?
No one except Japanese is getting in or out!
Ah, ok, now I get it.
I saw this AP article a couple of days ago, but now reproduced by right wing Sankei owned Japan Today;
Covid patients dying after being refused hospital treatment as the Japanese medical system collapses, ‘It’s like hell.’
Of course Japanese people can’t be to blame for the covid pandemic because of their superior ‘mindo’.
Japanese government can’t be to blame because the constitution won’t let them take action (wink, wink).
Must be (MUST!) the fault of NJ right? There’s no other possible explanation!
Meanwhile in Ibaraki, a local hokensho issued a note discouraging residents from eating with NJ, according to NHK. It was already retracted, but holy sh*t, that NJ blaming certainly gets out of hand.
If you are connected to the Olympics, you don’t need the app coz even if you DID break the rules, Japan wouldn’t embarrass itself by deporting you! Oh, yeah, and Japan respects your privacy sooooo much.
Resident NJ? Nah, you’re screwed.
‘smartphone app with GPS tracking for games-related foreign visitors has been abandoned due to the development schedule and privacy reasons’.
Osaka residents die in their homes, unable to get medical treatment, but the government is considering using the military–sorry, the “self-defense forces”–to facilitate medical services for the Olympics! Their priorities are clear.
But surely fit, healthy, young, Japanese Olympians receiving vaccination next months as thousands of vaccine doses expire and are thrown away due to Japan’s total inability to have used the last year to devise a program to mass administer shots WILL BRING HAPPINESS TO THOSE DYING OF COVID AT HOME!
Or perhaps not: Olympians could be kicked out of Japan for violating COVID-19 rules
And if Japanese athletes flout the rules then….what? Named and shamed?
Well let’s be honest, while most of the world’s top athletes have been struggling to maintain a training schedule over the last year due to lockdowns and social distancing, Japanese athletes have been able to carry on preparations as normal, being urged merely to stop drinking and dining out after 8pm. Hardly a level playing field…
Well, let’s wait and see if they actually deport any Olympians.
I’d wager this is part of the ongoing daily tsunami of ‘pro-Olympics’ ‘news stories’ aimed at brainwashing the J-populace before Suga tries to win the election. The message here is the same as it’s ever been; the LDP will do the MAX to protect Japan- deport dangerous gaijin.
It’s just a message.
Like 60,000 tests a day in Tokyo.
Or State of Emergency if Tokyo case numbers go over 300 again.
Neither of those messages had any connection to real action either.
Just like Debito and Magdalena Osumi have said, this figure of “300 people” was reported due to an error by the ministry of health.
The real number is around 100 people. This part of the article just amazes me “But there have been multiple confirmed cases of HCO trying to call people in quarantine with an app other than the one specified, and not being able to get in contact. This has resulted in the center mistakenly issuing warnings that their names would be released as non-compliers.”
So the ministry can’t even make proper phone calls, yet they somehow believe that they should have the right to decide about foreign nationals getting deported for not responding to those phone calls. Japan looks more and more like a third world country everyday. Not only do they discriminate against NJ residents when it comes to re entering the country (meanwhile Olympic athletes can just walk in), but the government is also so incompetent that they can’t even set up proper phone calls. And then they go out of their way to blame residents for their own incompetence. Don’t even get me started on the vaccination rates. It really gets worse everyday. Maybe Japan could get vaccination started if they would put as much energy into it as blaming NJ for the pandemic.
Yeah, but like I linked above, those connected with the Olympics have been EXEMPTED from the requirement to use the app because;
‘ GPS tracking for games-related foreign visitors has been abandoned due to the development schedule ’
So they know it’s over-priced and not fit for purpose (and an upgrade is needed), but are still using it to decide if resident NJ will have their visas cancelled. It’s just so arbitrary.
Since those with Olympic links are able to bypass self-quarantine, if you’re a PR with a Japanese spouse who isn’t an Olympian, you obviously don’t have the right 関係; enjoy おもてなし while in self-quarantine!
“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 ”
List of people we are publicly shaming:
You know who you are!
Is this a punishment? I don’t see how.