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Mid-August is a traditional time for many Japanese to leave the densely populated cities and travel to see family in rural areas. Many fear that in the absence of firmer government advice, those travelers may be bringing an unseen passenger — the coronavirus.

The Bon holiday period is synonymous with summer holidays, cleaning family graves and reuniting with friends and family. But with national and local officials giving conflicting signals over the risk of travel as the period approaches, the holiday threatens to boost the spread of the pandemic, as cases continue to rise across the country.

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