General alert in Tokyo. “All the noodle, rice, egg and milk shelves have been stolen from the Isetan supermarket near my home and there are queues outside the stores,” says Asami Takahashi, manager in a tourist agency in Tokyo. “The Tokyoites quickly understood that a general confinement of the Japanese capital was only a matter of days”, she added, just hours after the serious warnings from Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike on Wednesday March 26: “We urge everyone not to go out this weekend except for an emergency,” she asked, calling on the 13 million inhabitants of the megalopolis to ” do not go out at night and make the most of telework “
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This petition ended with a somber prospect that alerted the entire population of one of the most populous capitals in the world: “Confinement of Tokyo could become the only solution if the measures taken so far did not bring the epidemic under control” of coronavirus. “The next three weeks will be decisive. “
While Japan appeared to have miraculously escaped the coronavirus epidemic that erupted in China since late December last – with only 2,000 cases including the 700 of the ocean liner Diamond princess and its 43 dead – the discovery Wednesday March 24 of 41 new cases in the capital (twice as many as the day before), triggered the speech of the governor who warns of a possible “explosion” of the pandemic.
Hygiene in Japan is exemplary
” Why does Japan have so few cases of coronavirus? “Headlined the daily Japan Times on March 21, taking up a dispatch from the Bloomberg agency. The exemplary hygiene of the Japanese (among the first consumers of soap in the world), the fact of not touching or shaking hands, removing their shoes when entering the house, cleanliness in public places (buses, metro, trains, stores) or the packaging of all products in supermarkets have been mentioned to explain the slightest contamination in Japan. But more concretely, the very late control and prevention policy launched by the Shinzo Abe government could be behind these figures.
Are numbers understated because of the Games?
” Some justify this anomaly by the fact that Japan has done very few tests from the start (only 16,000), certainly in order to minimize the numbers before the holding of the Olympic Games in July Said the newspaper, quoting Professor Kenji Shinuya of King’s College in London: “Japan will see an explosion of the contaminated and take drastic action. “
Now that the Olympics are now officially postponed to 2021, everyone expects figures reflecting a darker reality. The island of Hokkaido, where many Chinese tourists had visited for the New Year holidays, has been affected from the start and the big city of Osaka (19 million inhabitants) is also considered as a black point of the infection. Tokyo now appears as a new center of contamination.
Japanese imagination fueled by disasters
“Everyone here felt that the figures did not reflect reality, says an editorial writer for the Japanese news agency Kyodo, the cover-up was political, but the Japanese have common sense and have been storing food for weeks. ” The Japanese imagination, fueled by typhoons, earthquakes and tsunami, has integrated the fragility of existence for centuries. In this singular context, everyone is psychologically prepared for a brutal change in existence. “Since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011 and the tsunami, affirms with certainty Asami Takahashi, originating from Sendai submerged by the big wave, we know the government will not protect us, so everyone prepares individually. I have stored enough food and toilet paper at home to last more than a month on my own. “