The Slow Japanese Response to COVID-19

Through out the first three months of 2020, there was fear that the 2020 Tokyo Olympics might have problems. Scandals after scandals followed after Tokyo was named to be the host city. The stadium costing too much, the stadium looking too mundane, the lack of volunteers and how both business as well as school seemed to be co-opted into helping it. The list goes on and on. While there were many who looked forward to the games, others were bitter about the cost the event was inflicting upon Japan, both financially and socially. The cost overruns are something many expected, but the Olympics were pushing aside regular everyday life in Japan on an unprecedented level and people were not happy about how holidays were being re-worked, convention centers being closed-off, and how authorities were warning that the congestion might be so bad that parcel delivery services might not function very well while the games are taking place–Their suggestion was people might want to avoid using mail order while the Olympic games were going on.

But the biggest question that dogged the 2020 Olympics was not the games itself, but how the organizers of the games seemingly adamantly denying the threat posed by a massive pandemic originating in China right next door to Japan.

As the world witnessed how the contagion made life in Wuhan, China extremely difficult with the forced lockdown and severe restriction on everyday life, there was concern the disease, now know as COVID-19, might spread like wildfire when the world assembled together at Tokyo in late July for the Olympic games. The Olympics put on a brave face, saying contagion prevention measures will be in full force, and there was nothing to worry about coming to Tokyo. Well that became a moot point. By early March, it was clear COVID-19 was having a detrimental impact on Europe and could severely hit the US as well.

And yet, in Japan, closing down schools and stamping out clusters of cases appeared to be having relatively good effect, at least up until the first half of March. Authorities asked citizens to reduce social interaction and events were strongly requested to postpone or to cancel. This was all being conducted without any legal justification–After all these were requests for self-restraint. In the meantime, the 2014 Act on Special Measures for Pandemic Influenza and New Infectious Diseases Preparedness and Response (a.k.a., New Influenza Special Countermeasures Law) was revamped so that the law could be invoked for the current epidemic of COVID-19 just in case if things got out of hand. This took place on March 13th.

In a nutshell, the New Influenza Special Countermeasures Law allows the national government to declare a state of emergency and empower local governments to pressure, but not ban, certain everyday activities. Prefectural governors would dissuade businesses where the risk of contagion was real to suspend operations and such. If the businesses did not comply, then the governors would be allowed to publicly shame the businesses by publishing their names to the public. Buildings where contagion took place could be shutdown and traffic into said buildings could be restricted. Resources needed for the treatment of diseases could be commandeered and land could be unilaterally seized to place medical facilities or emergency shelters.

These are relatively tame powers when compared to the disease prevention measures that are available to many other Western nations.

And yet, the Japanese government hoped that the New Influenza Special Countermeasures Law would not have to be invoked. Tremendous uncertainty over how to navigate an unprecedented situation, the fears of an economic slowdown accelerating, and the hope that the situation could resolve itself were most likely caused great hesitation. I have talked about some of the background here.

By late March, it was very clear COVID-19 could not possibly be contained by the coming summer. On March 25th, the day after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was postponed, Japanese citizen were advised against going anywhere overseas. On March 28th, the broad guidelines for how the New Influenza Special Countermeasures Law and the state of emergency was finally released.

And yet, it took until April 7th for the actual declaration of the state of emergency to take place.

So what has happened since then? Governors of affected regions immediately called upon certain classes of businesses to shutdown, highly recommended people to work from home, and for the most part, the public followed suit. It was a haphazard affair, but as the gravity of the situation become more and more clear, social pressure and fear compelled large segments of the public to adhere to quarantine measures that were only possible via martial law in some countries.

Cases spiked in mid April, but they have come done and stabilized by the end of April. We won’t know for sure if Japan’s approach was success, but by in large, the contagion is vastly more limited in Japan and life is better organized than in some Western countries.

We do not know if this situation will continue.

It’s easy to say Japan should have pushed through centralized testing, conducted mass medical screenings, mobilized the military to help provide logistics help, as well as aggressive state intervention into everyday people’s lives be carried out in order to stem the contagion, but something many commentators seem to be blissfully ignorant of what happened in Japan prior to 1945.

Even up until the 2000s, Japan was still dealing with the after-effects of leper colonies, forced sterilization of those with hereditary disabilities, and other public health policies that went disastrously wrong. The practice of these policies were continued well into the postwar economic boom of the 1960s.

In Japan, there is a strong hesitation over governmental overreach. There is fear that authoritarian tools, even legislated and monitored by a democratic legislative process, may not be good enough to stop the abuse of power by the majority against those in the minority.

This is not to say overreach into people’s lives do not take place. There are numerous quasi-public and voluntary organizations, industry self-regulatory groups, and other types of local community elements  that exercise influence over individuals, either through subtle pressuring, cultural influencing, and/or regulatory powers. Some might argue that governmental control is conducted via proxy by these organizations, but it is important to note that many of these organizations and regulatory schemes date back many years and sudden changes through legislative or executive mandates are very hard to implement through these means, as they are rooted in long running social acceptance and maintained semi-autonomously.

Japan is still a community orientated society, where consensus is highly sought, and social peer pressure can be relentless. Hierarchy and difference to authority figures is practically hard-coded into the language. While independent thought, diverse degrees of individualism and the indomitable rebel spirit are all very much part of Japan, the cultural, sociological, and linguistic norms and standards do have an considerable effect, both consciously and subconsciously.

These power moors of social structure make their presence known in a wide variety of situations.

Some businesses have been targeted for harassment as people will incessantly call them to ask why they are still open. Neighborhood interactions can grow awkward very quickly if a family is considered to be flaunting the social pressure to self-restrain. Teachers may even dissuade parents from giving their children Kindle tablets because it gives some children an unfair advantage (in their view.)

Even agents of the government can do subtle things to compel those who engage in legal activities to feel pressured. The police have been patrolling streets in pleasure districts, asking people why aren’t they home. Civil servants have frequented businesses that remain open to request them to shut down.

Scholars have pointed out that Japanese morality and values are less about personal conviction as opposed to adhering to cultural norms and social expectations. This is not to say that individualism is rare in Japan, but rather, individualism is not as strong as it is in the United States. It must be pointed out that, by in large, these norms and expectations in Japan have become more liberal and diverse over the course of the 75 years that have elapsed since the end of WW2, but nevertheless these norms and expectations can still be relentless.

While liberalism and human rights have become major cornerstones of Japanese civics, the average Japanese citizen rarely has an opportunity to understand how Japan embraced militarism and authoritarianism before and during WW2. Furthermore, while regret and apology over what happened in WW2 is common place, discussions over how to improve state institutions are encumbered with the debate over Japan’s history and its assessment.

There is no doubt that improvements and reevaluation over Japan state structure is needed, but any suggestion of changing the status quo creates a such a tug of war between traditionalists and progressives that, in the end, only incremental reforms are pushed through while powerful conformist forces in the wider sociological and cultural landscape have been left to fester and evolve unchecked.

There were many things that Japan could have done much better, as I have been advocating for a “if you can’t use a stick, then use sweets (use financial incentives to clamp down on businesses if you can’t penalize them)” for many many weeks now.

Granted, things may change a lot in the future. I still argue that historical, sociological, cultural, and political issues must be kept in mind if you want to realistically debate about what Japan can or cannot do in 2020.

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On the Edge of the Unknown–Japan and COVID-19

This is my personal analysis of the situation in Japan as of April 2nd, 2020.

We all heard the meme–“Japanese Prime Minster says Japan is on brink of contagion, but continues to claim it is not yet the time to invoke emergency declaration–even after weeks passes.”

The following is what I think is going on. This is only my personal opinion. Nothing more.

I am not interested in engaging in a blame game. I am simply trying to do my best analysis of the social and historical dynamics that might be in play right now in Japan, and thus better understand the situation. This is a thought experiment.

The Prime Minister and others around him seems to be deadlocked about what to do–The contagion is spreading, but the situation is fluid and there is no clear consensus regarding how society should react. This pandemic is creating major challenges for all national governments regarding how to balance the need to maintain civil rights, to uphold economic security, as well as maintain the best levels of public health. But in the case of Japan, the legal framework for restricting people is uncharted territory for Japan since the end of WW2. Japan has never conducted massive curfews, etc. for about 75 years. This is not about restricting particular industries or addressing a specific region, it’s about the entire nation, its economy and its people.

While many governments instituted rationing and/or restrictions on the freedoms of its people once World War 2 erupted, Japan actually went into war footing very early. In 1938, as Japan become deeply invested in war on the Chinese mainland, war mobilization was instituted in 1938. Many of the frameworks of post-War Japanese society were actually constructed as result of this mobilization and its effects left a lasting impact.

I believe those in leadership in Japan right now are afraid of being blamed of restricting citizen’s rights and causing economic harm. They are very very afraid of going too far, for overstepping boundaries that have been constructed since WW2. These boundaries helped Japan maintain social harmony and prosper by leaps and bounds. Since there are no precedence for governance in a situation like this in living memory, they are afraid and confused. While the circumstances are different, the last time Japan’s government wield such great power was 1945.

If the contagion is left unchecked, large scale economic harm will occur, but in some respects, leadership and society can deflect the blame on ‘bad actors’ rather than themselves more easily. The argument of “This contagion is the result of the irresponsible people who spread it about!” will seep into the collective consciousness and therefore help make it possible to avoid the tricky question of why the leaders were paralyzed at the helm when the nation needed them to act decisively. It will absolve the public at large “because most people practiced self-restrain.”

I think once the contagion becomes so extensive that people start dying in large numbers, then Japan will belatedly start instituting some restrictions, but by then it will be too late for many people and the blame will be attributed to everybody and nobody.

To some degree, this is what happened to Japan immediately after WW2. Saying Japan was collectively responsible is apt, but it can also contributing into absolving the misdeeds of specific actors for the actions they took that brought about the disastrous decisions–decisions that many questioned its validity even back then.

Note that while the democratic systems is fairly well entrenched in Japan, the “group-think” mentality and subservience to society/authority is very powerful still nonetheless. Even among those that position themselves as opposition leaders and/or minority groups, many have their own small hierarchies.

This collection of multiple and overlapping hierarchies and consensus orientated communities may sound oppressive, but it can be much less authoritarian than you might think, especially for those who were born and raised to accept it as being the norm. By allowing the status-quo to function largely unimpeded, regular people are not drawn into protracted democratic processes nor have to worry about renegotiating everything. The strikes that sporadically crippled Japan have largely disappeared since the 1990s. Large scale student protest movements have died down since the 1970s and the Japanese Red Army and their sabotage attempts have been non-existent for decades.

In Japan, precedence and authority is king, and once you grow old enough, most can hope to enjoy its benefits in one way or another. By adhering to the group and by meeting minimum obligations, you can do your own thing with little worry.

Japan needs strong leadership and decisive decision-making right now, but it also needs the strong institutional countermeasures that can restrict abuses of power. So far, both the leaders and those who check their power are happy with relatively reserved use of power since it is less straining and does not rock the boat. This allows for extremely bad decisions, indecisiveness, and/or lack of action who’s consequences slowly fester and explode, but in the mean time, harmony (or the facade of it) makes living more tolerable.

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しかし2002年に米国最高裁はヴァーチャル児童ポルノを違法化を試みた1996年のChild Pornography Prevention Act(児童ポルノ防止法)に対して違憲と言う判断を下しました。しかも9人いる判事が6対3という割合で違憲と認定した事は当時随分話題になりました。この時に最高裁は色々な観点から実在する未成年者を含まない児童ポルノを全面禁止するのは過剰であると指摘しています。


この2002年の最高裁の判決に不満を持つ人は数多く居ました。半年もしないうちに新たな法律が連邦議会で可決されて、2003年にブッシュ大統領の署名をもってProsecutorial Remedies and Other Tools to end the Exploitation of Children Today Act(「今日をもって児童の搾取を終焉させる為の検察的解決策とその他法」)と言う法律が設立されます。






































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8th Panzer Regiment News – Aug, 2018

This past summer Comiket (C94) is the last Comiket during the Heisei period (the Emperor is abdicating in April 2019, so the Heisei will be changed to a new period name), and there was a lot of concern the July heatwave might leave many peope to suffer from heat stroke, but the thankfully, the temperature moderated somewhat. It was hot, but not at all like July. We were worried about a typhoon more than anything else, and even that was steered clear of Tokyo, so we were lucky.

The latest offering at Comic Market 94 were two books: India’s War against the Neuroi and Swelter.


I prepared a lot of notes regarding the Indian Army, especially regarding the cavalry units as I was researching my next installment of the Lionheart Witch and this book is the culmination of those efforts. I tried my best to present a coherent description regarding how India fought against the Neuroi, with a particular emphasis on the period prior to WW1 leading up to the early years of WW2.


The tank witches of WW2 employed land battle striker units (LBSU) is large numbers, but striker units (the mechanical contraptions worn on the legs) were matured into its current form in the late 1930s. However, this does not mean witches were not engaged in combat against the Neuroi prior to this. Witches could be divided into “broom riders” (those with the ability to easily fly in the skies) and “cavalry witches”. The vast majority of witches were land based witches, and cavalry witches were the most organized component of witch military forces. (There where multiple other types of witch formations, but that is something to be covered at a different time.)

This book tries to cover the cavalry witches in detail, with emphasis on how the mounted cavalry witches coordinated activities with other arms of the Indian Army and how the cavalry witches eventually became mechanised witch cavalry and thus evolved into armoured witch regiments.

I also covered the support elements, the Royal Indian Army Service Corps (RIASC) and the Indian Army Ordnance Corps (IAOC), as well as briefly explain how they were incorporated into the Indian Army Corps of Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (IEME). I wrote an entire sections of female Indian Army followers that helped the witches as well.

Yes, the entire book is in Japanese, but including both English and Japanese would have made the book far too thick. As it stands it is 74 pages, making it already thicker than the Osprey Elite series.

The book includes guest art by Yaruku, Erica, and Hiroshi Konishi.

You can buy this book via Toranoana from Japan. The book is a B5 size square bound publication with 74 pages including the full color covers and inner black and white pages.

Another book I did was an full color mini poster book. Swelter is a doujinshi marketplace exclusive book, and I plan on selling this publication only at doujinshi events and conventions.

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This booklet is printed The publication is center bound so it can be spread out or flipped back to the illustration you want can be displayed prominently. It’s in A4 size, 74 including the full color covers and inner black and white pages.

Artwork by Juzo Minazuki, Ein Lee, oh_you_udon, GodSh0t, Ame Aobashi, Erica, Tokinii, Marukata, deel, Yasushi Abe, and Juzo Ukatsu are included.

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I hope you might have a chance to pick up this publication!

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責任ある夢想 / Responsible Dreamers

Japan is country where the freedom of speech is quite wide. It’s fun for like-minded people to gather and get excited about certain subjects, but it’s important to think of online forums as places where there is little private spaces.

It’s probably better to think that you have no means of “whispering” something online–Everything gets amplified very quickly. I personally try to only say things to the entire world that I would not mind sharing with people when I am riding the train.

In the past, it used to be thought speech conduced in Japanese could only be heard by other Japanese people. But now, thanks to the popularity of Japanese manga and anime, there are huge numbers of people who study Japanese that are not from Japan. The number of people who can translate material from Japanese to other languages are increasing as well. Machine translation tools easily available through the Internet have evolved to the point where they can easily translate ordinary conversations and more structured forms of text, such as news articles. What you say can reach people all around the world. Unless you intentionally direct your speech to only specific individuals through private channels, the Internet is a public forum where your speech can be examined by all.

within the realm of fiction, you should exercise your imagination with the least amount of restriction. Freedom is one of Japan’s greatest strengths, and it is a tool that allows you to go on the offensive. Experimentation within our minds is one of the cornerstones of how humanity progressed through the ages.

But words and text can deemed harmful by some. Even if the speaker meant to engage in humor or fiction, the listener may not understand it as such. But, if the speaker is deliberate in their presentation, this type of misunderstandings can be reduced.

As we are all human beings, so I am confident we can appreciate the wonders of creativity and imagination others bring about. There might be room for disagreement regarding what is permissible for what should be accepted as free speech, but we can mutually understand the importance of how human imagination can open up new vantage points and enrich the lives of individuals. If the work you created is a piece of fiction, then you should make that really clear to the audience. And if you are asked to explain aspects of your work, you should try explain it as best as you can. You do not need to explain the content of your work. There are numerous ways you can share with other the approach you take toward your own creations. Try to find a way that works best for you.

Thinking unassumingly along the lines of “this is fine because other people are making similar statements” and “there are other works that are just like this, so I must be in the clear” are very dangerous. It’s important to realize that different types of presentations will reach different audiences.

It’s impossible to predict how every and all audiences will accept your work. It is not very productive to conduct self-censorship out of fear of people with different perspectives. I believe a culture grows richer by addition, not by subtraction. For this reason try to remain calm and be delicate in how you react when someone aggressively criticizes you. Different perspectives are an opportunity to learn.

You should strive to say works and create works that you can take responsibility for. This is not a slight responsibility, but those who responsibility fulfill that duty will gain the respect of others. Heavy criticism, lack of popularity, and/or the perception of worthlessness are not enough to revoke the protected status awarded to a particular work or statements by the principle of free speech. Free speech does not exist to protect works that are respected and/or popular, but instead is a fundamental right that aims to protect the very speech many find disagreeable.

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8th Panzer Regiment at Doujima Singapore 2018

8th Panzer Regiment will be participating in Doujima (Doujin Market) taking place on May 5th and 6th, 2018 at Hall 406 on Level 4 of Suntec City in Singapore.

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The IOEA will be giving out free copies of Tokyo Pop Guide mini volume 2 so please drop by.

Doujin Market 2018 is held on 5-6 May (Sat & Sun) 2018. It’s opening hours are 12 am to 7 pm on Saturday and 11 am to 6 pm on Sunday.

Admission to Doujin Market is absolutely FREE, so there’s no reason not to drop by if you are available in the area.

The 8th Panzer Regiment will have multiple doujinshis and pin-ups available for sale. I will be there, so please feel free to drop by!

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8th Panzer Regiment News – April, 2018

Comic 1 * 13 took place on April 30th and I was able to publish two books.


Seaside Safari Witches is a revised reprint of a book published in 2013. It is essentially a swimsuit special featuring characters from The Lionheart Witch series.

With over 40 pages, the book featured manga and illustrations where 4 pages are in full color. Over half the book is new content! Seaside Safari Witches showcases the talent of Hetzer Furukawa, oh_you_udon, Dan Kanemitsu, Acea4, Tokinii, Nenchi, R-Ex, Hiroshi Konishi, Erica, Kiyoshi Shimizu, Takemitsu Hasegawa, ge-b, Junichi Inoue, Shin Kyogoku, Bunshichirou Ouma, Yasuhiro Makino, Mozu, Terepin Uona, Taku Koide, Jyuzou Minazuki, Ruen Rouga, Takenoko Seijin, Yoshitoh Asari, Kouhei Takanaga, and Ohirune Card.

You can buy the revised edition of Seaside Safari Witches at Toranoana.

The book was a Comic 1 * 13 exclusive title.

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The Lionheart Witch Series Swimwear Guidebook is a 8 page pamphlet that speculates the history and culture revolving around swimwear in the world of The Lionheart Witch series.

The cover is by Jyuzou Minazuki, the rear cover is by Ashigaoreta, and the text is by Dan Kanemitsu and manga by Ogawa Kamiya with an additional illustration by Yasuhiro Makino.


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