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New and Old Manners on the Train in Times of the Pandemic


Paul Kramer, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

Japan has managed to get through the pandemic with comparatively low case numbers and deaths, with the government enacting mostly legally non-binding measures. This paper asks why people followed these legally non-binding rules. More specifically, the paper analyzes the usage of public educational campaigns in trains like the “manner posters” that have already been used for over a decade. It explores how they have changed in pandemic times, and what effect they might have had on commuters. It does so by bringing together a qualitative analysis of these materials with a series of focused interviews, narrative analysis, and a collection of detailed observational protocols describing the behavior of commuters in the trains during the final phase of the pandemic in Japan during April 2023.