An army of “coronavirus vigilantes” in Japan is going to extreme lengths to harass potential spreaders of COVID-19, resorting to “internet lynchings” of rule-breakers and targeting of long-distance travelers they see as virus-carrying invaders of their communities.

Vigilantism during a pandemic is not peculiar to Japan. Reports are common overseas of citizens setting up checkpoints to bar travelers, laying out thumbtacks to deter cyclists and erecting “stay out” signs outside villages.

But Japan does have its own share of vigilantes. Dubbed jishuku keisatsu (self-restraint police), these self-righteous individuals aggressively monitor the internet and hunt for cars traveling from outside the prefectures where they were registered, in a collective bid to shame anyone flouting stay-at-home requests and potentially putting others at risk.