Japan Is Handling The Pandemic Amongst countries with the highest populations, Japan’s Covid-19 case numbers are actually quite low.
It is no secret that the United States has the most COVID-19 cases in the world, and one obvious reason is its large population. As of when this article is published, when one looks at other highly populated countries, their numbers of infected people are surprisingly lower. You can keep track of all US cases here.
Keeping in mind that the numbers could be inaccurate for any number of reasons, including underreporting, it is mind-boggling to see how many more cases the U.S. has. It is hard to know why other countries have fewer cases, but a closer look can provide some answers. Japan has the lowest on the list, so we will start there.
Back in March
The day after the decision was made to delay the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games for a year, Tokyo’s governor warned the citizens about a “possible infection explosion.” Schools were closed for a month, large cultural and sporting events were shut down, but for the most part, life was relatively normal.
The subways were still crowded, and outdoor public congregations were commonplace. There were no lockdowns in Japan, and public testing for the virus was limited.
At the time, Dr. Tomoya Saito of the National Institute of Public Health said limited testing was done on purpose so that their health care resources would be available to more serious COVID-19 cases.
Saito added that the virus might have been less likely to spread because Japan’s culture focuses more on bowing rather than shaking hands, a stronger inclination to wear masks, and frequent handwashing.
On April 9, ABC News reported that Japan had over 500 new confirmed cases of COVID-19. On March 25, they had reported 1,140 diagnosed cases, which rose to 5,500 by the time their article was posted.
This more significant number does not include 712 additional cases that are linked to the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which was docked in Tokyo. This capital city also has the most cases in Japan.
Some people believe that Japan originally understated their numbers. ABC News spoke to several Japanese citizens, who felt that the government did this in order for the Olympics to take place on schedule.
Their government countered this by claiming their strategy was to target clusters of cases, instead of mass testing. They did admit that not all infection routes have been traced, though.
The Press Conference
On April 7, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe decreed a monthlong state of emergency for seven of the country’s 47 prefectures (similar to U.S. states), including Tokyo.
This was not a lockdown, though; they asked the citizens to practice “jishuku,” or self-restraint, by volunteering to close businesses and stay home.
Koichi Nakano is a political science professor from Sophia University in Tokyo, and she explained the current state of the Japanese government. She feels that the country’s ruling elite is ‘out of touch with the reality of the daily life and concern of the people,” and said that they were too preoccupied with the Olympics to undertake significant countermeasures against the coronavirus.
Nakano added that Japan’s government displays a lack of leadership, bureaucratic denial, and risky experimenting with the ‘cluster infection’ theory. Without governmental guidance, public health experts and bureaucrats have been creating their policies and refusing to face the real magnitude of the pandemic.
As of April 12, Japanese officials had reported 166 more new cases in Tokyo, bringing their total to more than 2,000. The Hokkaido prefecture, which had a state of emergency order lifted, also had a recent uptick in cases. A second state of emergency was declared here. According to Hokkaido Gov. Naomichi Suzuki, it is the second wave of the crisis.
“We are facing a crisis of a second wave in the spread of (the coronavirus) infections,” Gov. Naomichi Suzuki told reporters in the capital, Sapporo. Although the country may have contained the spread of the virus months ago, the recent resurgence in virus cases could lead to more widespread infections.