• Kyodo

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Japanese senior citizens in Britain are supporting one another as the coronavirus pandemic accelerates through the country and people’s movements are restricted in order to curb the spread of the disease.

Members of the Japan Association in the U.K., more than half of whom are over 70, have been busy contacting one another over the last few weeks in order to lift their spirits and ensure they all have adequate supplies of food.

The British government is currently advising everyone to stay at home apart from taking exercise, food shopping and doing essential work. Officials have been particularly keen to ensure those over 70 heed the regulations due to their increased vulnerability.

“I have spoken to some members and so far they all seem quite cheerful and managing with support from friends and family,” Momoko Williams, 76, deputy chairman of the association, told Kyodo News.

“We suspect one of our members may have contracted the virus, although we are not sure, and she is recovering in hospital. Quite a few people have had to cancel trips to Japan that had been planned over the next few months.

“As the weeks go by, however, I wonder how many people may start to get depressed? We have lots of single women who go to our classes almost every week to chat and laugh. We have a welfare section in the association to look after members,” she said.

Chizuko Winter, the association’s secretary, said the organization had a team of about 14 volunteers who are ready to help members both with practical matters and also providing psychological support throughout the crisis.

She also said one of the Japanese restaurants is now offering to supply members with Japanese groceries at reasonable prices. And members are being asked to submit their thoughts and feelings on the pandemic for the next newsletter.

The association would normally run regular social meetings for Japanese seniors including haiku classes, karaoke and walks.

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