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Even in the coronavirus pandemic, the Japanese won't work from home until Shinzo Abe makes them



Salary men in suits crammed into trains during the rush-hour commute are staple scenes in Tokyo.

Up until a few weeks ago, 52-year-old Hideya Tokiyoshi, who traveled into the capital from neighboring Saitama prefecture for work each day, was among them.

The English-language teacher moved to online lessons after his students grew anxious over the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 46,800 people globally, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

While Tokyo's governor Yuriko Koike has urged the city's 13.5 million residents to telework where possible until April 12, and major Japanese companies such as Honda (HMC), Toyota (TM) and Nissan (NSANF) have asked staff to work from home, many employees are still commuting into the capital, where subway trains are busy during rush hour.

It's a similar story across Japan, where about 80% of companies do not have the ability to let their employees work remotely, according to 2019 government data. And with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe this week declining to declare a state of emergency, which would put pressure on businesses to enforce social distancing, companies can still legally operate from their offices.