More drinking parties are being held online in Japan as people increasingly stay home in self-isolation to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 and pubs operate for shorter hours at the request of local authorities.

With major Japanese cities set to remain under a state of emergency through May 6 due to the virus pandemic, such online parties are expected to become a new means of communication for those compelled to remain at home but who want to keep in touch and casually chat with friends.

On the night of April 8, a day after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a state of emergency over the virus, Chiaki Michibayashi, 31, raised a glass of beer toward her computer screen at her home in Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture near Tokyo, in a "toast" with other online party participants.