In June, Japan had all but finished opening back up. Remote work has ended in most of the country, and businesses are picking up the pieces that COVID-19 lockdowns have caused. This is no different in Tokyo, arguably the busiest city on Earth. One would think that Tokyo would be a hotbed for COVID, even after the lockdowns ended. Given that stations like Shinjuku, Shinagawa and Tokyo, the busiest stations in the nation, see tens of millions of passengers every three days, it would be very easy to think that Tokyo would still be the most contaminated city in the country.
Those who think that would be correct.
Over the last few days (as of the writing of this piece), there has been a 110% spike in COVID infections in Tokyo. As we head deeper and deeper into the monsoon season, UV-intensive sunny and hot days are fewer and fewer, no doubt creating conditions where the virus thrives – cloudy, humid and rainy – easy to spread. However, weather conditions aside, one other reason for the sudden spike may be cause for worry for the regular salaryman (like myself) who takes one of the most crowded train lines in the city.
In a previous piece, I mentioned about the Japanese sex industry being a popular choice for women who feel they have nowhere else to go for work. This is a very high-paying industry, and men literally line up to have their turn, empty their wads (both biologically and economically) on the girl of the hour or two. The industry has yet to slow down for native Japanese, as bored men tired of jerking off go to these shops on the regular to get their fix. Unfortunately, aside from the risk of STDs, another infection awaits them.
These men would visit an infected girl, get infected themselves, then go to work the next day on a crowded train, most unmasked because “mah entitlement” (more on that in another story), and thereby infecting many more people. Hence, the spike.
As a result, Tokyo Metro Governor Yuriko Koike has issued a warning to Tokyoites coming into the first full week of July. According to Japan News (an English language division of Yomiuri Shimbun Co. Ltd.), Governor Koike has issued a warning, asking residents of Tokyo to refrain from unnecessary travel. This hearkens back to the period just before the lockdowns – the very requests and events that led to the lockdowns in the first place. Indeed, it is quite possible that a new round of lockdowns could be issued in the near future if old Japanese men continue to visit Ikebukuro and Kabukicho to get their fix, catch the Rona, and infect others on their way to work.
Governor Koike continues to go after the Tokyoite who has nothing to do with the spread of COVID. Her “stay home” request should be ignored, as the infection rate is just above 130 as of this writing is just around 0.00141% of the total population of the city, and nothing to panic about at this time. The proper request would be to ask old men to refrain from visiting red light districts, which has been confirmed as the hotspot for the second wave of COVID-19 (which shouldn’t be). In fact, total closure of sex shops until the infection is under control (before a second massive outbreak occurs) is in order. Rather than punishing the citizens of Tokyo who are nowhere near the hotspots nor patrons of them in the first place. Masks (at least mouth coverings), for the comfort of others and not yours, should be recommended (indeed they are) but stay at home requests are uncalled for.
To the people of Tokyo, it’s up to us to stop the spread of COVID-19. Masks won’t save us from the virus but that’s not what they’re meant to do. They’re to protect others from our spit. We carry much more than the Wuhan-originated virus in our systems that could cause injury to those who are most vulnerable. Maintain social distancing practices, do not go to Kabukicho or Ikebukuro for sex, and above all, maintain good hygiene. Showering in the morning instead of the night time will reduce infectious agents on your body by half. Washing hands after using the toilet and disinfecting is paramount (since most Japanese men do not wash their hands after wanking in the john). Keeping a towel on your person is a good idea to dry your own hands off, but when possible, use a hand dryer (those businesses that have suspended/forbidden use of hand driers need to get their priorities straight). Above all else, if you are in the vulnerable category, consider not going out, yourselves if and only if the situation gets worse… like in the United States. Like in the United States, as Amtrak has implemented social distancing on all of its trains, Tokyo railway companies need to implement social distancing guidelines on their trains as well, and double the frequency of rail access during rush hours. That would definitely help to dull the knife.
By the way, the “D” in Governor Koike’s caption, is a translation of the party she is a member of. While she represents “Metro Citizens First” party, she is still a member of the democratic party as well, partnered with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. It is no surprise that the actions she takes joins those of Gretchen Whitmer and Gavin Newsome (D, MI and CA governors, respectively). Koike is punishing the people for the actions of a fraction. Going into the election, unfortunately, Koike stands a chance of reelection as governor of Tokyo. It is reasonable to assume that a new round of lockdowns will be ordered soon – an action that has proven to be not only unnecessary but just as deadly as letting people strewn about during the heart of a pandemic. Travel restrictions are not necessary when infection rates haven’t even hit anywhere close to 1%