Like many other nations around the world currently, Japan has been experiencing a shortage of surgical masks due to the spread of COVID-19 throughout the country. In an attempt to remedy this shortage and provide protection for all of its citizens, the Japanese government decided on April 7th that it would distribute two reusable masks to each household. The rollout of these distributions has already begun, but citizens have still had to worry about how to protect themselves until their masks arrive.
Yokohama City has also been struggling to cope with this lack of masks, but even as the world has begun to social distance, Yokohama has found some relief and aid through its strong international ties. On March 30th, Shanghai, Yokohama’s sister city in China, donated 10,000 masks to Yokohama. Another friend of Beijing City also provided 1,000 sanitizers to Yokohama on March 27th. This came on the heels of Yokohama having donated 10,000 masks each to both Shanghai and Beijing when China was confronting the peak of its COVID-19 outbreak in February.
In addition to this reciprocative aid, 1.3 million surgical masks which Yokohama City procured from Shanghai arrived in Yokohama on April 2nd. This procurement was accomplished through coordination between Yokohama City’s Shanghai Office, one of Yokohama’s four overseas representative offices, and the Shanghai Municipal People’s Government.
As the world grapples with the shared coronavirus crisis, many of us find ourselves conducting our work and lives from our homes, and travel—to the workplace, much less internationally—is beginning to seem like a distant memory, keeping strong international ties and cooperation is even more important than ever before. In New York State, there had been an urgent need for ventilators and PPE for medical professionals since mid-March. We at the Office of Yokohama Representative to the Americas received a request from the NYS organization Empire State Development regarding this need, and reached out to our network in Japan to attempt to find a provider. Due to the increased worldwide demand for ventilators and lack of availability in Japan, it is regretfully possible that this will still not lead to much in the way of productive leads. However, we are still very honored to have been a point of contact for our friends New York, and wish nothing more than to facilitate a continued international and interlocal cooperation that can allow for overseas aid and concerted relief efforts during the COVID-19 crisis.
Please feel free to contact us any time.