For a good part of last week, the unrivalled highlight of Japanese television — looped on news programmes — was a short computer simulation of a salaryman sitting at his desk and coughing. Its prime time primacy is total: this cough is the Killing Eve of animated expectoration.

The imagined office in the video, like tens of thousands of its real-life equivalents around Japan, appears carefully prepared for the great return to work and new normal of life under Covid-19. The desks are separated by decent physical space, and sensible plastic partitions cleave the landscape.

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