Buildings and landmarks across the globe — from New York City’s Empire State Building to Niagara Falls — have been lit up in support of front-line health care staff, first responders and essential workers dealing with the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Japan is no exception in recognizing these workers, with buildings such as the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, Tokyo Skytree and the Osaka Castle tower all lit up in blue and participating in the international #LightItBlue campaigns that originated in the United Kingdom and later spread to the United States.

The clock tower of Ginza’s iconic Wako Building is one of the latest campaign additions in which respect and gratitude for staff at working in the COVID-19 trenches is conveyed.

The building, located at one of Ginza’s main intersections, has long served as a symbol of the area since 1932.

Starting April 20 this year, the clock tower introduced a new 7 p.m. bell tone — effectively, a beacon of hope — to acknowledge to brave health care staff that their efforts to fight COVID-19 are recognized.

Also implicit in the meaning of this new, “Thanks for Your Courage” chime, is a plea for those working in nonessential services to “Please, stay at home!”

Pandemic numbers in Japan are expected to decline if people practice social distancing and remain at home, as evidenced in countries such as New Zealand where COVID-19 numbers are low.

The sound of the new chime emanating from the Wako Building clock tower is a logical extension of gestures made since 2012 when the bell has rung messages of support, reassurance and hope on March 11 to those affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake.

For all those who are helping to protect their fellow citizens by staying at home, the Wako clock tower bell can be heard ringing out its message of thanks via YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEsZXqrA2n5PS-poxT5CmyQ) or Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/thanks_for_your_courage/?hl=ja).

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