The world’s most aging society has always struggled quickly to speak to its youth. This is a deadly interruption in the epidemic.
I have had a hard time convincing young people to change their lifestyles to prevent the spread of COVID-19 countries around the world. However, there are no higher risks than in Japan, where nearly a third of the population is over the age of 65, and the response to the virus depends on voluntary cooperation.
The nation has so far relied on people changing their behavior in its largely successful war against the virus, as authorities lack the legal capacity to enforce the lockdown. But while the call for cooperation worked well in the early days of combating unknown pathogens, younger Japanese, like their global peers, are increasingly becoming tired of the virus. That left officials struggling to convince a demographic less likely to have a severe bout of COVID-19, but more likely to transmit the virus.
Government officials and health experts were angered by their inability to communicate with young people – and sometimes expressed doubts about the fact that they did not read newspapers or watch television, which are the methods the government usually uses to reach large audiences.
Hitoshi Ushitani, a professor of virology at Tohoku University and a member of the expert committee that advises the government, said that young people are “one of the main factors controlling the spread of the virus,” but that these are the people who are most difficult to send the public a health message.
Authorities have experimented with different ways to get young people involved, with winter tests of Japan’s less restrictive strategy increasing and cases increasing. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga appealed to their feelings, urging them to reflect on the lives of their grandparents. Tsar Yasutushi Nishimura’s virus has sparked self-interest, raising the specter of a tougher job-seeking environment in the event the epidemic continues to impact the economy.
Other attempts were unsuccessful. In August, the governor of Tokyo. Yuriko Koike released a video with the famous YouTuber Fuwa-chan, in which the two discussed lifestyle changes to help fight the virus. The video garnered around 370,000 views. A separate behind-the-scenes episode, in which Vua Chan tells jokes as she puts on makeup and worries about how to deal with the ruler, but says nothing about the virus, has crossed a million.
Suga himself, who has been plagued by collapsing approval rates during the recent wave of the virus, sought advice this week on how to use social media to better communicate his policies, according to a report.
In interviews, several students and young professionals said that government communications have failed to empathize with their situation and are unconvincing.
“During the prime minister’s press conferences, there are no words of comfort or gratitude to young people – it just says that young people are infecting the elderly and need to stop.” Said Kuki Ozora, a 22-year-old college student who runs a youth mental health hotline. Politicians usually hold dinner even with the spread of HIV cases, and he called on the authorities to show more sympathy for the youth.
“People in government tend to be more traditional and like to rely on methods that have been used before,” said Makoto Shimwaraisu, a member of the Coronavirus Strategy Office in the Cabinet Secretariat. “This is something that I think many countries suffer from.
In Canada, Hollywood actor Ryan Reynolds recorded a letter in August asking young people to act more responsibly. A German commercial paid tribute to a young couple who were handling potatoes while the champions sprouted out in November. However, these measures appear to have a limited effect as well, amid the high incidence of the virus.
About a fifth of the 300,000+ confirmed infections in Japan are among people in their 20s – the largest of any age group. Since they are younger and more mobile, that age group is also the most vulnerable to transmitting the virus and are a part of superspreader events.
While Japanese youth are interested in social issues like climate change and gender equality, most of them don’t see politics as a way to bring about change, said Kazuma Ito, the 22-year-old founder of PoliPoli, which helps communicate concerns among people. The younger generations of politicians.
“It is very difficult for young people to have a voice in politics,” he said.
Dominic Broussard, a professor specializing in scientific communication at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, said one way to attract young people about COVID-19 is to put the well-being of their social group on their shoulders.
She cited the slogan “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drink and Drive” for decades in the United States as one of the successful campaigns that helped reduce the incidence of drunk driving among young people. Simply transmitting information about the virus may have limited effectiveness with the younger generation, who are used to being bombarded with a steady stream of content.
The epidemic has also deprived young people of economic opportunities as jobs disappear. Many of Japan’s most desirable jobs at big companies start hiring upon graduation from college, but the job-per-applicant ratio for those jobs was at its lowest level in six years in 2020 – with 122,000 fewer jobs expected compared to the previous year.
“Even if young people make a great effort to stay at home, there is little benefit in the future,” said Lily Yoshida, a 19-year-old college student.
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