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Coming-of-age ceremonies across Japan to be held online or called off amid virus surge

Young adults who attended a coming-of-age ceremony in the western Japan city of Wakayama are seen taking a selfie on Jan. 5, 2020. (Mainichi/Shinji Kurokawa)

Local governments across Japan have been making shifts to cancel coming-of-age ceremonies or hold them online following the national government's announcement on Jan. 4 that it will consider declaring another state of emergency across Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures: Saitama, Chiba, and Kanagawa.

    The Aomori Municipal Government in northern Japan announced on Jan. 4 that it will call off ceremonies scheduled for Jan. 10 ahead of Coming-of-Age Day on Jan. 11, and hold an alternative event online. Although the local government had planned to hold a coming-of-age ceremony while taking infection prevention measures, such as by distributing participants across a number of sites and requiring them to apply in advance, it decided instead to upload a YouTube video commemorating the event.

    Moves to hold ceremonies online have also been spreading in Tokyo. Sumida Ward will livestream a concert and show messages from former teachers. Katsushika Ward officials are planning a ceremony without attendees, and upload its video to their website.

    Out of concern for potentially strained local health systems and other effects, the Fujiyoshida Municipal Government in Yamanashi Prefecture, west of Tokyo, announced the cancellation of its coming-of-age ceremony on Jan. 4.

    In northern Japan, the Sendai Municipal Government has requested young adults living outside Miyagi Prefecture refrain from attending its coming-of-age ceremony. In a Jan. 4 press conference, Sendai Mayor Kazuko Kori addressed them, saying, "I'd like you to make an adult decision."

    The municipal government earlier sent emails to individuals registered as prospective attendees, and asked them to refrain from returning home or coming to the ceremony. Local authorities now plan to send more strongly worded emails requesting people to refrain from attending to residents of prefectures which would be subject to the potential state of emergency.

    Meanwhile, the Sapporo Municipal Government in Japan's northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido already announced last year that it would cancel its coming-of-age ceremony this year. The government of Miyako, Iwate Prefecture, in northern Japan, said that if a state of emergency is declared it will ask residents of Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba, and Kanagawa to refrain from attending its adulthood ceremony.

    (Japanese original by Mei Nammo, City News Department; Issei Takizawa, Sendai Bureau, and Hirosato Nansako, Aomori Bureau)

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