Five new ways the pandemic is affecting our lives:

  • Japan has loosened regulations on part-time work for foreign nationals stuck in the country due to the pandemic and having trouble supporting themselves, Reuters reports. The temporary measures, which took effect Dec. 1, allow people with 90 day short-stay permits to renew them and receive permission to work up to 28 hours a week, while technical trainees can change their visas to a “specified activity” work permit for six months. Those on student visas can work for up to 28 hours a week even if they are no longer students.
  • In scary news for those working from home, at least 607 Japanese entities, including major firms and government agencies, have been targeted by cyberattacks as hackers exploit vulnerabilities in the technology used for remote work amid the pandemic, Kyodo reports. Many of the organizations, which are clients of a virtual private network service provided by Fortinet Inc., had staff IDs, passwords and other authentication data stolen after a list of some 50,000 of the firm’s unpatched VPN appliances was leaked on the internet Nov. 19. Among those hit by attacks were the Japan National Tourism Organization, Recruit Holdings Co. and Sapporo University.
Cox Co.'s luxury face mask features diamond, platinum and Swarovski crystals, and sells for ¥1 million. | REUTERS
Cox Co.’s luxury face mask features diamond, platinum and Swarovski crystals, and sells for ¥1 million. | REUTERS
  • Student trips are known as an integral part of the Japanese education system, but amid the pandemic, more schools are opting for short stays at safe and nearby locations, Jiji reports. After a spate of cancellations in the spring and autumn, these schools began organizing single- or two-day trips — shorter than those before the coronavirus crisis. These trips avoid urban areas as destinations, instead choosing historic sites or scenic spots nearby, and utilize the central government’s Go To Travel tourism subsidy campaign to secure additional buses and lodging for a safer experience.
  • As the pandemic continues to give couples more face time at home, a recent survey found that nearly 20% of wives and husbands have seen their relationships have improve due to increased communication, Kyodo reports. In the survey, 19.6% of the 1,080 respondents aged in their 20s through 50s said their relationships had “improved” or “improved somewhat,” 6.1% said that they had “worsened” or “worsened somewhat,” while 74.3% responded that their relationships had not changed.
  • In Japan, it’s fairly common to see trendy, homemade masks even on a leisurely stroll through the neighborhood. But one firm is taking masking-up to new heights, offering Japanese trend-setters a luxurious way to protect against the coronavirus: opulent masks adorned with diamonds and pearls for a cool ¥1 million ($9,600) each. The company, which operates mask.com, is hoping to bring both (unseen) smiles to faces and boost sales in a fashion industry depressed by the pandemic.