Usually vibrant university campuses in Japan have been quiet this year, with student clubs banned from holding events, including parties, to solicit newly enrolled students amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Despite the grim situation, some student groups are utilizing social media to recruit first-year students as they try to avoid infection risks.
In early spring every year, a Waseda University campus in Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward is crowded with current students holding flyers and placards introducing their clubs to attract first-year students. The university welcomes about 8,000 new students every year.
This year, however, only some first-year students are seen coming up to receive their student identification cards, while security guards are patrolling in the campus every hour.
Meanwhile, some clubs are taking advantage of social media, such as Twitter, to attract new students, including posting videos of their club activities.
At Sophia University in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward, where welcome events for new students have also been suspended, an American football club released a video online to introduce its activities.
"Social media is now the main platform of our activities to solicit first-year students as welcome events, including a dinner party, have been called off," a member of a student club at Waseda University said, adding that it is putting "more effort than usual" into recruiting new students, and updating its social media pages every day.
Meanwhile, some first-year students are cautious about deciding a club they join based only on information posted on social media.
"I can't make a decision unless I attend a welcome event," an 18-year-old first-year student at Waseda University said, voicing her hope for an early end to the coronavirus crisis.
Group infection has occurred among students of Kyoto Sangyo University who had participated in a graduation party.
According to an expert panel under the Japanese government, many of young people display no or only mild symptoms even if they get the coronavirus, but they still could become a source of infection.
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