One Billion Rising Coordinator for Japan, CHIKAKO HAMA, is based in Tokyo, Japan. She is the Director of Public and Media Relations at the non-profit organization Aoisora, which focuses on nonviolence efforts and human rights. In addition to her work with One Billion Rising and Aoisora, Chikako is a CAP (child assault prevention) facilitator.
We are hearing from activists worldwide as our movement meets this moment. We will be posting their stories frequently, as we draw inspiration, ideas, hope and love from one another.
What I am particularly angry with is that the government’s Corona Countermeasures Office has just begun. As one of the first countries besides China to be affected by Covid-19, this is too late. As of March 20, Japan is testing only 118 tests per million people even though they have the capacity to do 7,500 tests per day. The people do not trust the government at all. I live in Tokyo. as soon as the Olympics have been postponed, the Governor of Tokyo suggested a lockdown in Tokyo. What is more important, human life or hosting the Olympics? The postponement will increase the number of Covid-19 patients.
In the first place, even though Fukushima is not under-controlled, it is wrong that Japan raised its hand for the purpose of Fukushima reconstruction as an Olympic host country. The same thing has happened with the Fukushima nuclear accident.
・Do not test thyroid.（Do not perform PCR test.）
・Media coverage is controlled by the government.
People in Japan are all struggling how to cope with their life amid Covid-19 pandemic just like other people in the world. On April 6, the news broke that our Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, is posed to declare a state of emergency in an attempt to counter the sharp rise in Covid-19 cases in the capital and other cities. Two days earlier, Andalou Agency broke the news that Japan has over 4,000 positive cases of Covid-19. Experts say that the true number must certainly exceed 4,000 because the government has been criticized for strict testing criteria. Urban areas, like Tokyo and Osaka, are seeing a rapid increase in new infections.
This is a time of uncertainty. We just don’t know where this global pandemic leads us to. We don’t have a roadmap. We have a lot to worry about now; our own, our family’s and loved one’s health, financial health, and job security.
But I feel there is a huge difference in the severity of the burden we have. There is a disparity in who is affected the most by this. Full time employees are free of financial uncertainty unless companies they work for go bankrupt. Meanwhile, part time employees and people who work freelance have already been struggling to make a living as they are always first to get laid off.
In Japan, most women who have children work part time. That means many women, especially single mothers are suffering severely right now. First, they have been affected by public school closure. Many had had to take unpaid leave to take care. They are trying hard to cut on food expenditure. Yet they are not sure if they can pay their monthly bills for utilities, health insurance, national pension premiums and etc. on time next month. Realities in Japan. A lot of fear and anxieties.
One of my friends told me below.
“In this small city of about 110,000 people where I live, life has been impacted tremendously by this global pandemic. As our town’s economy relies heavily on tourism, many private businesses have already been facing financial challenges. Hotels and restaurant businesses have started slashing staff. I myself and many of my girlfriends lost jobs and don’t know if we can return to work after the pandemic ends.”
As for me, I just keep myself busy, trying not to let it get me down. Sometimes I check in with my girlfriends on the phone. Just hearing their voices cheer me up even though we are apart. It is so nice to know that I am not alone. We will fight through this hard time together and build solidarity. It will end.
The work is decreasing dramatically in Aoisora, my non-profit organization. But my hope is that NPOs that support children, women and the poor across the country are doing what they can without relying on the government. I plan to volunteer to distribute food to single mothers who need help.
Anyway, in order to overcome this difficult situation, I will take care of myself, my family and my friends, connect with others and act positively and humbly.