[Special Issue] Vulnerable Populations Under COVID-19 in Japan; The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus

David H. Slater

September 15, 2020
Volume 18 | Issue 18 | Number 2
Article ID 5482

This is a collection of original articles on diverse vulnerable populations in Japan in the wake of the new coronavirus pandemic. The effects of COVID-19 are felt differently, with some among us at much greater risk of infection due to preexisting health and welfare conditions. For others, perhaps more than the risk of infection, it is the precautions taken to mitigate the risk for the whole population, such as lockdowns and business closures, that have pulled away the already fragile safety net of state and civil society organization (CSO) support, leading to increased marginalization and social exclusion. The goal of this set of papers is to document the conditions of those that have been most directly affected by the virus and to provide background on the conditions that made them vulnerable in the first place, notably chronic conditions that are brought into more obvious relief in light of emergency measures. Each of the authors had a pre-established relationship with those affected populations and employed various ethnographic approaches, some face to face, others digitally via Zoom interviews and SNS exchanges. In this moment of what appears to be relative calm, we hope that our collection, quickly compiled in an attempt to capture the ever-changing situation, will give some insight into how those most vulnerable are faring in this time of crisis and provide information that will allow us to prepare better before the next wave comes our way.

Keywords: COVID-19, vulnerable populations, health and welfare, disability, homeless, refugees, social media, sex workers, irregular workers, foreign labor, small farmers, restaurants, business closures, Indian workers, Vietnamese workers, Nepalese workers, Japanese restaurants, sanitation workers, children, domestic violence.

Link to Special Issue (Open Access)


Tables of Contents:


1. David H. Slater – Vulnerable Populations Under COVID-19 in Japan: A Lull in the Storm


The Politics of Etiology

2. Mark Bookman – The Coronavirus Crisis: Disability Politics and Activism in Contemporary Japan

3. David H. Slater and Sara Ikebe – Social Distancing from the Problem of Japanese Homelessness under Covid-19

4. David H. Slater and Rosa Barbaran – The Whole Block Goes Down: Refugees in Japan’s Detention Centers during the Pandemic


Containment and Isolation

5. Sarajean Rossitto – Isolated Together: Amplified Vulnerabilities in Japan’s Children’s Homes

6. Rei Ando – Domestic Violence and Japan’s COVID-19 Pandemic


Entrepreneurial Work During the Pandemic

7. Satsuki Uno and Robin O’Day – Japanese Freelance Workers Struggle during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Social Media, Critique, and Political Resistance

8. Valentina Giammaria – Covid-19 in Japan: A Nighttime Disease


Foreign Labor Under COVID-19

9. Masako Tanaka – Social Protection for Migrant Families in Japan Stretched Under COVID-19: The Case of Nepalese Women

10. Bảo Quyên Trần – Vietnamese Technical Trainees in Japan Voice Concerns amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic

11. Megha Wadhwa – In the Age of COVID 19 –The Indian Restaurants and the Indian Cooks in Japan


Resilience Through Controlling Environment

12. James Farrer – How are Tokyo’s Independent Restauranteurs Surviving the Pandemic?

13. Chika Kondo and Jack Lichten – Resilient Japanese Local Food Systems Thrive during COVID-19: Ten Groups, Ten Outcomes (十人十色 jyu-nin-to-iro)

14. Makiko Deguchi and Chie Matsumoto – Voices of Sanitation Workers in Japan amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic