COVID-19 Resources in Japan

Update October 6, 2020: In a bid to fight the loss of international tourism in Japan (down 99.9% according to the Japan Times), the Japanese government launched the “Go To” travel campaign on July 1st as a solution to kickstart the economy after the massive hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic. An event that caused a great deal of controversy among the public, a quick look at any COVID-19 tracker can tell you, the cases in Japan shot up from being just short of 19000 confirmed cases back on July 1st, to over 86000 confirmed cases as of October 6th.

While the previous prime minister Shinzo Abe has retired and handed his responsibilities over to the new prime minster, Yoshihide Suga, we still have a ways to go to see whether the “Go To” travel campaign will repair the damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, or magnify that damage with the recent spike in cases. You can learn more about the “Go To” travel campaign at their official webpage.

COVID-19 Tracker App

This past June, The Japanese government’s ministry of health, labor, and welfare released a COVID-19 tracking app to help keep the populace safe. This encrypted app, for use within Japan, allows you mention if you have been infected with COVID-19 and provides you with further resources for how to take care of yourself. In addition, while simultaneously keeping your privacy, it also anonymously tracks your whereabouts and notifies other app users when a COVID-19 carrier has entered the area.

Click here to download the Japanese government’s COVID-19 app. For further details about the app, click here to be taken to minsitry of health, labor, and welfare’s website (Japanese only). For further specifications, click here and take a look at the spec sheet (Japanese only).

COVID-19 & Changes in Japan

Since the postponement of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games last March, the severity of COVID-19 has finally sunk in for many. For foreign residents of Japan, it’s extremely important to have as many COVID-19 resources as you can to help aide you in this pandemic.

Businesses throughout Japan are taking whatever preventative measures they can to stop contamination and spread of the corona-virus. Convenience stores now have sheets of plastic draping in front of the cash registers. Automated hand dryers are now closed off at certain public restrooms. Most supermarkets and public restrooms now have alcohol spray to clean your hands.

A sign at a LaLa Port restroom, preventing usage of automated hand dryers. [Photo by Michael Lemmone]

Japan Post & COVID-19

The shortage of masks and hand sanitizing products will likely continue throughout May. Those trying to import products from other countries may have trouble, since Japan Post is refusing to accept mail from a large number of countries. You can see the full list of temporarily suspended countries by clicking here.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government provided a website to report the latest updates in Tokyo regarding COVID-19 as they occur. The website, StopCovid19, provides details such as the number of confirmed cases, details of people testing positive, status of conducted tests, confirmed cases sorted by municipality, and more. See below for details or click here to launch their website.

Japan COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker

A small group of engineers, led by Shane Reustle, went out of their way to develop a website which further tracks COVID-19 data in Japan. Their website reports data for Japan as a whole, and includes current confirmed and active cases in Japan. You can also find an outbreak map to see which areas of Japan have it worse. Additional features include data sorted by prefecture, confirmed case trajectories, trending outbreak spread, and case data reported day by day. You can see the data for yourself below or by clicking here to view their website. If you believe you have something to contribute, you can also visit their GitHub page by clicking here.

COVID-19 Embassy Information

We encourage you to periodically check the website for your home country’s embassy. Below we have listed links to the embassies for English speaking countries. Each embassy’s website provides information relating to COVID-19 and how it effects you, your home country, an Japan. We find the British embassy’s website does an exceptional job at addressing how to handle the situation in just a few bullet points at the top of the page.

Local Schools & COVID-19 in Japan

As the days go on, each city’s board of education struggles with how to decide to move forward with the school year. Schools in Japan were closed for the month of March, before reopening back in April. However, many schools have already began closing again due to raising worries of contamination.

The words “closed” or “closing” are used loosely though, as this only means students are not attending. Throughout the month of March, all teachers and school staff were still made to attend their schools and work regular hours, without having a class to teach. This continues even today.

One teacher, who chose to remain anonymous, spoke with us regarding the situation in [redacted] prefecture:

“Early this month, the [redacted] board of education decided to close schools in our area to protect our students. However, just recently, we were informed that they made the decision for us to hold classes once a week, and that all students must come to school and attend.”

It’s certainly a very gray area. In Japan, there is no such thing as getting held back a grade or skipping a grade. Unlike in the west, all students graduate at the same time, regardless of whether they pass or fail their classes. It would seem many BoE’s are figuring out just how to handle students being out of school for so long. For further information, click here to see the website for MEXT, Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

Local Businesses & COVID-19 in Japan

While many businesses are closing their doors, just as many stay open and require their employees to come to work everyday. Unlike in many western countries, when you step outside in Japan today, it is still very much business as usual. Public malls, shopping centers, video stores, and many non-essential businesses are still up and running. While small portion of employees are lucky enough to be allowed to work from home, the numbers are still far and between.

Some businesses are taking harder hits than others. [Photo by Michael Lemmone]

Japan Self-Starter Opportunities

For those who have either suffered being laid off while in Japan, or for those trapped here and unemployed, the job hunt can often feel quite daunting. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the safest things you can do for yourself is self-quarantine, but staying at home doesn’t mean you can’t work from home. Take some time to search the web for online opportunities. For starters, you can try these work-from-home self-starter jobs:

Japan Employment Opportunities

It’s true that not all of us will have the luxury to work from home. Some of us need to take whatever work we can get, even if that means stepping outside and commuting to a job. Since you can’t put all your eggs in one basket, make sure you apply to jobs on as many job boards as you can find. We recommend trying out the following:

  • Indeed Japan (Mostly for office work at Japanese companies)
  • Gaijin Pot (Variety of jobs, most requiring English)
  • Jobs in Japan (Another variety of foreigner jobs)
  • Career Cross (Loads of listings, mostly by recruiters)
  • Daijob (Mostly specialty jobs, such as IT, insurance, medical, etc)
  • Yolo Japan (Lots of part-time gigs for restaurants, hotels, and factories)

Further COVID-19 Resources in Japan

Remember, the most important thing is your health, so during this pandemic, try to stay home unless you absolutely must go out for food or some other urgent situation. Remember that many services still exist in Japan that can be done from you home. If you just happened to move to a new address, you can even set up mail forward online, without having to go to your local city hall. For additional COVID-19 Resources in Japan, take a look at the following pages:

Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare

Japan National Tourism Organization