This Week In Japan #17 (July 31st, 2020)

Foreign residents are allowed to re-enter Japan. Construction begins on Ghibli Park, and more news stories!

August 1, 2020

Listen to Our This Week In Japan Podcast here

Hosts of This Week In Japan

Julian Domanski

Born in England, Julian is a writer, videographer & musician living in Tokyo. When he’s not drinking copious amounts of English Tea, he can be found studying Japanese or trying to master the surprisingly complex basics of the Jiuta Shamisen.

Yasuharu Matsuno

Founder of Japan Insider (Former Ryu Tokyo). Japanese-born entrepreneur. Yasu spent his life around the globe – Japan, Singapore, Switzerland, Australia, and the U.S. He hopes he had more time to play Japanese RPGs. MBA from Columbia University in the City of New York.

Visa-Holding Residents Will Be Allowed To Re-enter Japan

Foreign residents in Japan waiting in a long queue.
Image from ytranking.net

After months of being denied entry in Japan, visa-holding residents may finally be receiving a chance at re-entry. On Wednesday, July 22, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo announced that, after months of being denied re-entry, the government will be aiming to create a plan that allows for foreign residents to return to Japan, possibly starting as early as the end of July. Only residents that left the country before the entry-ban will be able to qualify for re-entry. 

While residents outside the country are happy to hear the possibility of returning to their homes, for many the government’s actions are frustratingly late. Thousands of long-term foreign residents in Japan have been separated from their homes and loved ones for months now. The ongoing rigidness from the government mixed with the fact that Japan has been allowing some tourists in for “business-related” affairs, has led to a large number of dissatisfied residents. Exceptions to the ban such as spouses of Japanese nationals, those with permanent residence, or those on special permits are required to show proof of exiting Japan before the ban was implemented to be allowed back in.

Currently, if the plan to allow foreign residents back in passes, the government is estimating a controlled quota of 500 people per day. Returnees will be required to take a PCR test before they depart and upon arriving in Japan.

Publicity YouTubers Are Becoming A Big Problem In Japan

Hezumaryu harassing other YouTuber.
Image from https://ytranking.net/blog/archives/23166

Recently there have been several problematic YouTubers popping up in Japan. These YouTubers, since named “meiwakukei” (迷惑系) or nuisance YouTubers, have been causing various problems for the people they come across. The most recent nuisance YouTuber goes by the name of Hezumaryu and has been on a rampage in an attempt to garner attention. His initial videos were somewhat typical and included travel vlogs or food challenges. But when the views didn’t roll in, his videos began to become more extreme. 

Recently videos have begun to include things like showing up unannounced at a popular YouTubers house to harass them and their family to do a collaboration or reportedly uploading videos of eating stolen goods on YouTube. Due to his high amounts of travel, Hezumaryu was recently announced to have contracted the Coronavirus. Despite this, he continued to travel around his home prefecture of Yamaguchi, and meet with people, infecting 2 of which he had come into contact with.

He also managed to infect 7 more people he was in contact within Aichi prefecture. The governors of both prefectures made announcements concerning him, spreading his name and encouraging him to continue his attention-grabbing actions. Even after being banned several times for his inappropriate videos, Hezumaryu and other nuisance YouTubers like him claim that it only makes them more infamous. He says that if he’s banned, he’ll simply continue to create newer accounts or go to other platforms and that YouTube is simply a means to become famous.

Abe No Mask Is Set To Return In Large Numbers 

Abe covering his eyes with his Abenomask.
Image from asahi.com

Earlier this year, Japan shipped out over 130 million cloth masks across Japan. The 2-mask per family plan was suggested by Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, and the masks soon became known as Abenomask. It now seems that another huge shipment of masks is in the works. The government is currently planning to send out another 86 million masks to daycare centers and nursing homes in Japan. The first wave of Abe no masks had their own share of controversy. Many people received their masks very late (if at all), the masks themselves were very small and hard to wear. Citizens were also angry at the massive amount of taxpayer money that was used to implement them. 

With this new round of Abenomasks, it would seem that the same problems are surfacing again. On Twitter, the hashtag #税金無駄使い (zeikin muda zukai), which means a waste of tax money, was soon trending along with the phrase abenomask. Many users expressed their disagreement with the decision to hand out more masks, especially now that masks are once again regularly available. One twitter user wrote, “is Prime Minister Abe just not listening? Tens of millions of feelings clearly not unified.”

Construction Begins On Studio Ghibli Theme Park

The image of Ghibli Museum after completion.
Image from next–travel.com

Construction is finally set to begin on the highly anticipated Studio Ghibli Theme Park. Once complete, it will feature five different areas based off of the works of animation director Hayao Miyazaki, including “Spirited Away,” “Howl’s Moving Castle,” and “My Neighbor Totoro.” 

The park, which was originally planned to open in 2020, has been pushed back until 2022. However, even with the current situation, the park is planned for a 2022 release with no further delays.  The park will be located in Nagakute City near Nagoya in Aichi prefecture. There is already an area for the film My Neighbor Totoro located in the park, where visitors can see an exact replica of Satsuki and Mei’s house from the iconic Ghibli film.

While the park is planned to open in 2022, the prefectural government says only three areas will complete, to begin with, and the remaining two areas, based on “Princess Mononoke” and “Kiki`s Delivery Service,” will be finished by 2024. Once fully completed, Aichi prefecture estimates around 1.8 million visitors per year.

Reserve A Public Toilet From Your Phone

How you’ll be able to “reserve” a public bathroom with your smartphone.
Image from https://www.watch.impress.co.jp/docs/news/1268284.html

New technology is coming to Japan that may revolutionize the way we go to the bathroom. Starting this Thursday 30th July, Yokohama Station will be implementing the first toilet that can be reserved remotely. 

The service will be called QREA and is developed by the venture company Duchamp. Reservations can be made via Line, the most common messaging app in Japan. Once reserved, the door will auto-lock for around 10 minutes until you arrive. Directions to the bathroom and directions for unlocking it will be displayed from your Line app. Not only will this provide a sense of security for those rushing to the bathroom, but it will also reduce the number of people trying to open the door when in use, which can be quite distracting for those inside. 

Allegedly, millions of people in Japan suffer from irritable bowel syndrome and a flare-up can happen suddenly. Being able to reliably reach a nearby toilet can be a monumental help. Representatives of this project are hopeful that this technology can become widespread throughout the country following its experimental trials. Trials are to run until August 30th every day from 2 pm to 7 pm.

Christian Dakin

Christian Dakin is an editor, designer, and video game director currently based out of Tokyo, Japan. Originally from a small town in Georgia, he studied in Japan for a year in college before returning again for work. Christian enjoys studying Japanese and the outdoors. In his off time, he is most likely to be found adventuring to a castle, belting it out in karaoke with friends, or in a gym somewhere.

More articles by Christian Dakin

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