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‘Dense!’ Tokyo governor’s coronavirus catchphrase turned into viral video game that mocks Japan’s mask plan

‘Dense!’ Tokyo governor’s coronavirus catchphrase turned into viral video game that mocks Japan’s mask plan
As leaders across the world plead with citizens to stay home to help fight the coronavirus, the catchphrase used by Tokyo’s governor to warn the populace has itself inspired not one, but two viral video games.

Many of the Tokyo metropolitan area’s 36 million residents will, by now, be familiar with Governor Yuriko Koike’s “mitsu desu!” (meaning "dense!") finger-wagging catchphrase calling for social distancing. The soundbyte has become so embedded in the public’s minds that game developers have created their own adventures in 2D and 3D. 

The first game, published by Twitter user Gunjo Chikin, includes a character who resembles Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who provides the player with two face masks. This is a nod to Abe's widely criticised plan to issue each household in Japan with two face masks, regardless of how many people live there. 

Meanwhile, players assume the role of Koike, who has a "social distancing circle" which expands as she reaches harder levels, fighting off those who flout public health warnings.

A more flashy, 3D take on the game is also apparently in development. A tweet purporting to show clips from the GTA-style sandbox adventure in public health and anti-coronavirus combat has accrued over 3.8 million views.

The Japanese government has been reluctant to issue the tighter lockdown restrictions first seen in China and then later across the Western world, as it is against the country's constitution to force people to stay home. Instead, authorities may only request that citizens stay in their houses and that businesses close. 

While some bars, restaurants and cafes remain open, much of the population has been compliant and stayed home. But not all, as Japan’s work culture means as many as two thirds of the country’s office workers are still commuting to their jobs. 

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Koike has clashed with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe over the Japanese government's handling of the crisis and the lacklustre measures aimed at curbing the spread of infection in the country. 

During daily briefings, Koike wears a face mask while repeatedly urging citizens to steer clear of crowds and enclosed areas. She oversees the Tokyo metropolitan area, which has been the source of more than a quarter of Japan's 10,797 cases. So far, Japan has lost 236 lives to Covid-19.

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