Projects for Research on COVID 19

The Institute for Comparative Research in Human and Social Sciences has initiated a series of new projects for conducting research on the COVID-19 new coronavirus and its impact on society.

ICR will announce new research initiatives along with research results through this page.

Project 1: Analysis of the COVID-19 Infodemic: Japanese Media COVID-19 Content Topic Modeling

Leader: Professor Muneo Kaigo PhD.

Project 1 lead by Muneo Kaigo will use quantitative methods for data analysis and machine learning techniques for content analysis of media related to COVID-19 in Japan.Social surveys and data extraction from social media and traditional media will be used. The aim of this project is to clarify the effects of information related to the virus and the impacts on society.

Project 2. Basic Research on Resilient Social Design in the Era of High Mobility: The Novel Coronavirus and Reduction of Global International Migration of People, Policy and Technological Interventions and Analysis

Leader: Professor Junichi Akashi PhD.

Tighter immigration controls, including border blockades accompanying the spread of the novel coronavirus has led to an increase in extreme restrictions on international movement and migration. This study identifies the processes and consequences of this process and, in addition, from a policy and technical perspective, negative aspects of the reduction of human cross-border
activities and a pathway to early recovery. Through this research, we will explore the resilience of society in an age of more transboundary mobility.

Project 3. The Role of the Constitution to Deal with COVID-19

Leader: Professor Hajime Akiyama PhD.

The Japanese government and prefectural governments are taking emergency measures, including business suspension request, to deal with the outbreak of the COVID-19. Business suspension request, derived from the concept of public health, may limit civil liberties, which are the fundamental values in the Japanese Constitution. Based on this background, this research reconsiders the constitutional value which should be prioritised to deal with COVID-19 with particular emphasis on public health and freedom of establishment. It also introduces a comparative constitutional perspective to clarify the challenges the Japanese Constitution faces to deal with COVID-19.

Project 4. Development of Online Japanese Language Support for Foreign Students

Leader: Professor Hiroko Sawada PhD.

The number of non-Japanese students who need Japanese language instruction in Japan has been increasing in recent years, and the number of students at elementary, middle and high schools has been increasing. We have been struggling to cope with the situation. In addition, in response to the spread of the new coronavirus, many educational sites have taken emergency measures such as school closures and remote learning As a result, the number of children who are not receiving adequate Japanese language instruction and who are significantly behind in their studies is increasing rapidly. In this study, we aim to establish an online Japanese language instruction support system for foreign students. Therefore, this study is concerned with the construction of an online Japanese language instruction support system for foreign students and the establishment of a Curriculum Development.


A new study result by the ICR director is in review:


The purpose of this study is to examine how content about the global coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak changed in the Japanese information environment through a comparison of the topics that were prevalent in traditional media and social media. The paper investigated how the topics of information regarding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in newspapers and Twitter differed, how the topics in relation to COVID-19 of newspapers and Twitter users changed before and after the WHO pandemic declaration, with the assumptions that topics that are relevant to the central government of Japan are more often found in newspapers, rather than Twitter and topics that are relevant to Japanese families and individuals are more often found in Twitter, rather than newspapers. A total of 10953 newspaper articles and 171,996 tweets before and after the pandemic declaration by the WHO. Instead of employing traditional content analysis methods, this paper analyzed media content through the topicmodels package for R, for classifying the various topics that were prominent before and after the pandemic declaration due to the size of the data accumulated. The analysis of this paper found that Twitter tweets focused more on topics that affect individual or household needs such as medical issues and financial well-being of individuals and families. In contrast newspapers focused more on international topics such as China, U.S. and Europe and topics that involved the government such as the suspension of primary and secondary schools, the economy and the Tokyo Olympic games. Before the pandemic declaration by the WHO, medical topics were found to be prevalent on Twitter whereas newspaper topics were focusing on the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantine and the current situation in other countries. After the pandemic declaration, Twitter tweets were about medical topics, but were more focused on the lack of medical supplies and future concerns of hospitals being overwhelmed leading to a collapse of the medical system in Japan. Twitter tweets also centered around hopes of support by the government, such as temporary cash payments. Newspapers on the other hand centered around topics of cancelled sports events and government announcements. The findings of this paper suggest during pandemics, mass media may be insufficient in resolving the discontent towards lack of information and suspicion arises towards the government. Twitter might be used for searching information that is not found in mass media such as newspapers as doubt towards the government rises as illustrated in the findings of this analysis.

For citation of this study, please use:

Omoya, Yuka and Kaigo, Muneo, Suspicion Begets Idle Fears– an Analysis of COVID-19 Related Topics in Japanese Media and Twitter. SSHO-D-20-00320. Available at SSRN:

This project is registered under the World Pandemic Research Network