The Coronavirus in Japan (so far)

I am going to try and post regular updates on the Coronavirus in Japan going forward, hopefully monthly. If you have any questions about the situation, feel free to get in touch.

Almost everyone is wearing masks. Not wearing a mask will get you stared at!

Japan, compared to other countries, has seen relatively low figures of  Coronavirus infections. Even though there has been somewhat of a resurgence of cases in August, the official number of infections (as of the 1st of October 2020) stands at only 83.010 cases, with 1564 deaths. As testing is still not widely available to anyone (only people with severe symptoms can get tested in most cases), the number of total infections and deaths is most likely not accurate. Still, judging by the fact that the situation is relatively calm, medical facilities are not overrun and people are not dying in droves, it seems like Japan as a whole has a fairly good grasp on the whole Coronavirus issue.

But why is that? It certainly is not the governments doing who have not really done anything apart from handing out masks that fall apart if you look at them wrong and prattling on about the economy. Japan is not doing anything different when compared to other countries, but still, somehow the situation appears to be more contained than elsewhere. It might be the general tendency of the populace to adhere to rules, or maybe it’s because of the mandatory tuberculosis vaccine that everyone here gets as a child (greetings from the 1950s). Throughout the pandemic, many wild theories have emerged as to why Japan seems to be dealing rather well to the outbreak, ranging from the government’s strategy of tracing clusters of infections to a general immunity to the virus because of eating natto (fermented soybeans). The truth at the moment seems to be that nobody knows, and no one might ever truly know. Somehow Japan has managed to escape the attentions of the virus. There might be individual elements throughout Japanese policies and society that may have contributed to this, but even if you add them all up it is hard to figure out exactly why the infection is not spreading in the jam-packed trains of the rush-hour in Tokyo or Osaka.