I returned to Tokyo from Toronto on March 18 after a 17-day visit there to see my family and to wrap up some business. I left the day that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced border closures, restricted travel, the “social isolation” policy and urged Canadians living abroad to return home as soon as possible before the means to do so evaporated.

During my stay I witnessed the crisis in Canada balloon before our eyes. When I arrived I was shocked and angry about Canadians’ negligent approach to an emergency that the World Health Organization had already declared. Awareness was minimal. In mid-March, Canada was already two months behind the game and floundering as it tried to catch up fast.

If I had stayed, as Trudeau urged, I would be trapped there with no health insurance. Thank God I was able to escape Toronto when I did, just as everything was collapsing, the country was slipping into panic and the nation was addressing the COVID-19 situation with the competence of the Titanic’s officers evacuating passengers, or World War I generals attacking the German lines.

I was angry because I could see how the Canadian lifestyle and slow approach to spreading contagion cultivated the problem they are dealing with now.

“Home” is a vague concept for me. My family, my work and my health insurance are all in Japan and I saw staying in Canada as a trap, rather than salvation. Japan is my salvation — a country of the living. But I could be wrong.


The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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