First, we and everyone we know is well. Since the outbreak of Coronavirus in nearby China beginning in December, Japan has been monitoring the situation. In Japan a few infected individuals were identified quarantined and treated. The real problem developed when a cruise ship landed in Yokohama with infected on board. Since then most of those passengers have been released from the ship. That began a series of decisions that have affected life throughout Japan. At present in Japan there are over 938 recorded cases of Covid-19 infection and there have been 12 deaths so far.
- On February 22nd, the US State Dept issued a Level 2 Alert for Japan, they encourage special precautions but did not limit travel to Japan.
- Last Thursday the Japanese government encouraged the closure of all public schools two weeks early for Spring break. The Christian Academy in Japan is going to online classes.
- The government has requested restraint with public meetings and gatherings at least through March 15th. This has led to several cancellations including major sporting events. The pro soccer league has postponed the opening for 2 weeks, exhibition baseball is being played behind closed doors, the Tokyo Marathon was run Sunday with only selected elite runners and few spectators, and the Osaka Sumo tournament will be without spectators for the first time in its long history. Disneyland is closed through March 15th. But at this point every official is anticipating that the Tokyo Olympics will go on as scheduled this July/August.
- In the northernmost island of Hokkaido the governor has requested help due to a quick rise in cases. Another possible localized outbreak of 14 cases has appeared in our neighboring city of Sagamihara in Kanagawa Prefecture.
- This health crisis is affecting churches and their events. Some churches are practicing hygiene management by encouraging anyone with any illness to not come to church, have people wash their hands, wear masks, and not shake hands in church meetings. Other churches have chosen to simply meet online for worship. We joined a church Sunday for online worship.
How does this affect us? Well with us moving in early April we are kind of winding up things anyways. But one network’s inaugural Japanese church planting two-week intensive training had to be postponed. John was looking forward to spending a full day with the 15 church planters and total of 60 people involved. Our planned trip to Kyoto to speak in a church and meet with the Kansai area Rengo pastors was cancelled.
The mood is anxious but not nearly like when we had radiation from Fukushima in March 2011. There is no panic, but many are cautiously worried. The stores have run out of a few things as people stock up. So far, the only item we are aware of is bathroom tissue. Pray as we interact with friends, neighbors, and other Japanese that we be a comfort to everyone we see, bring them hope in Christ, and hopefully share correct information with them.