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Celebrities apologizing for catching COVID-19; patients hiding their infections for fear of being ostracized; so-called “virus vigilantes” harassing potential spreaders of the sickness — such behavior has become all too common in pandemic-era Japan.

“It’s not as frequent as it once was, but we’ve received anonymous phone calls complaining about our alcohol service at night,” says Ryuji Suzuki, a 20-year-old university student who works part time at an izakaya (Japanese pub) in Tokyo’s Bunkyo Ward.

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