At the moment, the only penalty is having your name made public.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Japan, like most other countries, has taken measures at their borders to stop the spread of the pandemic. For anyone wishing to enter Japan these days, regardless of nationality, the rules seem clear enough: you must quarantine for 14 days after you arrive.

New arrivals must report their current location daily via tracking app OEL on their smart phone, and they must also respond to a daily health check questionnaire, reporting any potential coronavirus symptoms such as a sore throat or a cough. Immigration officials may also video-call new arrivals via Skype or WhatsApp to check their surroundings.

▼ Arrivals are required to report their current location daily via this application

Anyone arriving from abroad is required to sign a written pledge at the airport, promising to follow the rules and respond to the daily checks. However, according to a recent interview with the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, these rules are being broken by up to 300 people each day.  According to reports, there are currently between 20,000 and 24,000 people quarantining after arriving in Japan, but approximately 300 of those are failing to report their current location, or are reporting their location in a place different to where they are supposed to be.

As per the written pledge, the penalty for breaking these rules is having your name made public. In the case that the rule-breaker is a foreign national, they run the risk of having their visa status revoked and being deported. However, an official from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare commented, “It would be difficult to impose penalties such as fines or imprisonment on rule-breakers, as freedom of movement is written in our Constitution.”

At present, the government is mulling over ways to enforce the rules further, such as sending out warning e-mails or sending contractors out to physically check whether or not people are properly quarantining.

Japanese netizens had a lot to say about the situation.

“If there’s no real penalty for breaking the law, what’s the point?”
“I don’t know if I’d be able to stay put for 14 days.”
“Can’t they change it so that rule-breakers get a fine? Come on!”
“If there’s no real consequences, then it’s not so much ‘violating the law’ as ‘violating a request’.”

But it may not be that people are intentionally breaking the rules. Foreign nationals who have recently re-entered Japan also had a lot to say as to why rules may be being broken.

“I’ve been back in Japan for 9 days now and haven’t received a single questionnaire by e-mail.”
“The OEL app doesn’t work for me. Every time I try to register my location I get an error message.”
“The written pledge says you can’t leave your place of quarantine, but I was told by someone at immigration that I could leave my hotel room for necessities like food. Who should I believe?!”

So if you’re flying into Japan any time soon, make sure you follow the written pledge and keep safe inside, for your safety and for the safety of others, too.

Source: Yahoo News via Otakomu
Featured image: Pakutaso
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