It has been in the news for awhile now, but the Coronavirus is something that many people in Japan (and around the world) are worried about. Last week at church the greeter was spraying everyone’s hands with sanitizer as they entered the building. Another church in town has cancelled their weekly church lunches until further notice. But with all the actual dangers and fears that accompany the virus, it is interesting to see how Japan reacts.
When it was announced that Tokyo was trying to get the 2020 Olympics it was only a few years after the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters that hit northern Japan in 2011. people condemned the focus on the olympics when so many were still living in temporary housing due the tsunami. The goverment pushed through, and secured the envied host position for 2020. Remember, Japan is traditionally a big honor/shame culture. So this kind of worldwide honor is really important in Japan, especially to politicians who use it as a personal trophy. Now, with the Olympics just around the corner, the coronavirus is getting out of control, but instead of facing the problem, the Japanese government is not allowing doctors to even test patients who suspect they have the virus, unless they meet very specific guidelines. As a result, the virus is probably spreading at an alarming rate, but it is just going unreported. We’ll see how this plays out in the next few weeks. Another interesting outcome will be to see how the everyday person views the government’s response. the triple disasters showed a contrast in the average Tohoku person’s thoughts on the goverment (slow to help) and the Christian church (short and long-term help). Perhaps this Coronavirus pandemic will give the average Japanese person another reason to doubt the status quo, which in Japan is to say that foreign influences (religion) are unnecessary. The more disenchanted the average person is with the way the establishment manipulates things for their own honor, the more the church has a chance to show the higher honor that is Christ-likeness, which is to love selflessly.
Please pray for healing for virus infected people in Japan and elsewhere, and especially for the healthcare workers who are literally putting their lives on the line to serve. Also, please pray that the church would rise up and meet this challenge with God’s love.