How-tos

Making sure you're prepared for a Japan-wide lockdown

by Patrick ST. Michel

Contributing writer

The novel coronavirus pandemic has understandably sparked plenty of anxiety in people around the world. Even in Japan, an apparent outlier in cases of COVID-19, it’s tough not to shake the unease while glowering at the folks enjoying themselves under the cherry blossoms.

On Wednesday, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike requested that Tokyoites stay indoors this weekend. As of noon on Thursday, Saitama and Kanagawa prefectures followed suit. Such announcements aren’t going to help calm nerves, as was seen in parts of Tokyo on Thursday morning as residents swarmed their local supermarkets for last-minute panic-buying.

Since a nationwide lockdown is a genuine possibility, it doesn’t hurt to prepare yourself in advance. Rather than let the threat of being cooped up for an extended period of time scare you, now is a good time to put together a kit to help you get through a potential lockdown.

If a hypothetical Japan lockdown resembles what’s happening in the U.K. right now, certain “essential” establishments such as supermarkets, home centers and banks will remain open. Then again, if it reaches a point requiring most of the city to shut down, you probably don’t want to go out much. Getting enough nonperishable food and water to last you a while should be top priority. Make sure you have a can opener in case you load up on canned items such as beans, which has been the go-to in New York. If you’re buying vegetables, make a soup and freeze it. It’s a good idea to keep your health up in these times. Also, make sure you have the medicines you need, but be conscious not to hoard. Everyone taking what they need will be essential if the country reaches this point, so don’t go overboard.

After taking care of sustenance, make sure to have all essential documents and identification in order (and it might not hurt to jot down your home country’s embassy phone number, if applicable). Given how unpredictable life could get in a lockdown, don’t lean on PayPay and withdraw some cash just in case.

Similarly, you’ll want to have access to news in case power or the internet goes out for some reason. Make sure to have a handheld radio to keep tabs on the situation. You should also have a flashlight, and extra batteries for both. While you’re at it, a first aid kit isn’t going to take up that much space, so have one of those ready as well.

If this list sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because you’d want all of the above in case of an earthquake or other natural disaster. The odds of a lockdown happening are now more likely than a major shake rattling the area, but this current unnerving atmosphere offers a good opportunity to update your emergency quake kit.

Hopefully, that will provide some peace of mind, and the chance to focus on the unique demands a lockdown would provide — primarily, figuring out how to stay entertained during one. Don’t start binge-watching “Better Call Saul” quite yet.

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