This study aimed to examine differences in perceptions of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and anxiety-relieving behaviors after the lifting of the first state of emergency in Japan between mainland China international students (MCISs) and other international students (ISs). An online survey targeting ISs enrolled at four national universities in the Kanto region of Japan was conducted from early to mid-June 2020. Data from 333 ISs were analyzed, including 202 MCISs and 131 other ISs. The results indicated that MCISs started to pay attention to the COVID-19 pandemic earlier and collected relevant information more proactively than other ISs before the first state of emergency. However, MCISs used official media, such as television and newspapers, much less than other ISs. In addition, all ISs were able to cope with stress toward the COVID-19 pandemic by asking for help and advice from same-language speakers (SLSs). However, other ISs were able to ask for more help and advice from Japanese people than MCISs, and they engaged in more anxiety-relieving behavior than MCISs. Furthermore, although MCISs and other ISs used different social media to collect information, the usage and methods of coping with stress had similar positive effects on relieving anxiety for both MCISs and other ISs. Those who received less help and advice from SLSs and Japanese people struggled to relieve anxiety, particularly other ISs with lower levels of Japanese language proficiency.
Governments and embassies in various countries have opened social networking accounts and are engaged in online communication activities. Social media usage plays a significant role in diplomacy today. However, research on online communication by foreign countries with Japanese society is not sufficient to advance the substantive discussion.
This paper aims to understand the actual situation of online diplomatic communication with Japanese society conducted by 156 countries that have embassies in Japan through a comparative analysis of their operations of social media channels. First, this study investigated whether the 156 embassies have opened accounts on the two platforms, Facebook and Twitter. The study identified 89 Twitter accounts and 99 Facebook pages of 119 embassies based in Tokyo, and reviewed the openings of these accounts starting from the early days of social media. Then, a detailed analysis of the Twitter accounts was conducted—the accounts were mapped according to the correlation between the average monthly growth of followers, the average monthly number of tweets, and the degree to which Japanese language was used in the tweets of each account.
The results revealed that more than three-quarters of the 156 countries are on social networking sites. In contrast, only a limited number of countries use social media as a public diplomacy tool to communicate with the Japanese public. In addition to major Western countries, medium and small countries tweeting in Japanese are also considered relatively strategic in operating their accounts.