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“My gears are particularly grinded right now,” says Michiko in a text after I ask her how she’s feeling amid the flurry of pandemic news related to COVID-19. It’s one of many texts, emails and messages I’ve sent to family and friends lately.

“I just don’t know,” she continues. “I am genuinely more worried about people back home in Europe than I am about myself in Japan. I get frustrated with so many updates and all the conflicting information.”

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