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The pandemic is weakening the office’s grip on Japanese commuters

Passengers wearing protective face masks are seen amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at Tokyo Metro's newly-opened Toranomon Hills Station in Tokyo, Japan June 6, 2020. REUTERS/Issei Kato
Reuters/Issei Kato
Looking ahead.

Crowded trains have always been part of life in Tokyo. The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t put an end to that—but it’s offering a glimpse of a future when they might no longer be spilling over.

In the weeks since the government lifted the state of emergency in the entire country on May 25, life is quickly returning to normal in the Japanese capital’s train stations. So packed are Tokyo’s trains, for example, that anxious commuters are posting photos of cramped carriages on social media with the hashtag “crowded train.”

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