Back in February 2020, Covid created the modern equivalent of the “hell ship” in the Diamond Princess luxury liner, which trapped its passengers in Yokohama Port (until they were rescued by their respective governments) because of Japanese Government stupidity. It’s been nearly two years gone by, so in lieu of a new blog entry, let me archive and link to the full text of my SNA column on it. Excerpt:
SNA (Tokyo) — The drama of cruise ship Diamond Princess, currently moored at Yokohama and quarantined by Japan’s Health Ministry due to some of the 3,700 passengers and crew testing positive for the coronavirus, is a human rights crisis. The Covid-19 outbreak that originated in China has killed more than 1700 people and sickened tens of thousands. Here’s my take: Surprise! I’m not going to argue that the prison-ship conditions are due to racism, but more a matter of official stupidity…
Another thing the Japanese government botched: the willingness of all the passengers to simply gaman the stupid. The Diamond Princess is an international ship, and passengers from other countries aren’t going to do what’s expected by Japanese authorities. They are not going to quietly do as they’re told.
In fact, many people with different historical touchstones about being quarantined might object to being trapped on a Kalaupapa, a Swinburne Island, a Poveglia, or a wartime “hell ship.” So they did something about it. Passengers and crew have internet access, and they complained loudly to their respective governments and media about the increasingly intolerable conditions they have been subjected to.
Viral videos and interviews have turned the Diamond Princess into a much bigger embarrassment than some statistical infection rate blip. Instead of looking like Asia’s foremost modern, clean, and civilized country, Japan has only managed to look unprepared to handle international standards of disease control, or for that matter the international tourism Japan wants so badly.
Full text now archived at Debito.org at https://www.debito.org/?p=15942.