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Like many foreign residents of Japan during the early days of the country’s COVID-19 outbreak, Shane Reustle and Jiahui Zhou recall poring over websites run by the health ministry and local municipalities to try to get a clear picture of how infections were spreading in the world’s third-largest economy.

But their attempts to quickly grasp the situation were — and sometimes still are — hampered by infrequent site updates, a shortage of multilingual information and overly granular statistics.

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