For the first time in 3 years, this year the Japanese were able to enjoy the sacrosanct Golden Week almost normally.
As you know if you read Kanpai diligently, Japanese employees have few days off and it is frowned upon to take them all. This is why holidaymakers concentrate very strongly on 3 periods of the year in particular, when the archipelago seems to stop to devote themselves to national holidays:
🏖 The release of spring holidays 2022
While the Golden Weeks of 2020 and 2021 had been curtailed due to the Covid pandemic 🦠this year the festivities were in full swing thanks to the abolition of (quasi) states of emergency and the authorization to travel again, both outside his prefecture of residence and abroad.
Do you think: just before the start of the festivities, the Minister of Economic Recovery Daishiro Yamagiwa squarely opened the debate on the usefulness of wearing a mask 😷 outside, shortly after the almost unexpected outing of chief health expert Shigeru Omi on social activities!
In reality, the population of the archipelago was never confined and it was a moral recommendation rather than a legal prohibition, but the reputation of Japanese followership being well established, few dared in reality brave it. In any case, if a certain number of Japanese were not asked to travel, there were still no mass movements.
Many Japanese, logically frustrated by 2 years without travel, therefore took the opportunity to treat themselves to some well-deserved vacations during this Golden Week 2022. Thus, just on the road, long traffic jams have accumulated.
👨🔬 An explosion of pre-GW Covid tests
For those who follow the Corona indicators with certification, one statistic is however surprising: that of the PCRs and antigens carried out by the population.
Since the end of February, the number of daily tests has fluctuated between 150 and 200,000. In France, for comparison, we were around 350 to 400,000 tests per day over the same period, despite a population half as large (i.e. around 4 times more for an equal number of inhabitants).
But suddenly on April 27 (the eve of the start of Golden Week), the Japanese were oddly ~7 times more likely to get tested: 1.34 million tests were indeed carried out on this single day ! With a result capacity of only 390,000 daily, it took several days to absorb them.
Do you think it’s just responsible urban Japanese checking that they haven’t contracted Omicron before returning to their furusato to spend a few days seeing their family back in the countryside?
A few clues encourage us to think not. Because a constant of post-Corona global neo-tourism is the now classic obligation to submit a negative PCR result in order to be able to board a flight abroad.
A short tour of the main Japanese airports, desperately empty for 2 years because of their strong border restrictions, thus gives concrete answers at the end of April: they were indeed already at least 100,000 have taken off from Narita alone.
After two years of pandemic restrictions, planes from Narita to Hawaii are finally filling up with excited tourists again. pic.twitter.com/qRUrMSWhyU
— NHK WORLD News (@NHKWORLD_News) April 28, 2022
The list of foreign destinations where the Japanese went during this Golden Week 2022 is not known, if it will be made public in the future, but we already know that Hawaii is high on the list, without much surprise. given its status as a traditional “coconut tree” destination for the Japanese.
🛂 2 weights, 2 measures
It will not have escaped you that the Japanese borders are still officially closed to foreign tourists at the beginning of May 2022, probably for a few more weeks (a resumption in June is possible):
Fumio Kishida’s government maintains this harsh position:
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This choice to extend its neo-Sakoku (the famous isolationist policy) is justified by the Japanese Prime Minister by a fear of the spread of Corona on its territory. On the other hand, it does not respond to the logic of authorizing hundreds of thousands of Japanese at the same time (all the same week!) to go about happily in other countries, some of them without restrictions, before returning quietly to the ‘archipelago.
We call it hypocrisy, but some happily jump in and cry xenophobia. Until when can this posture hold as it is?