A man walks along an alley in Tokyo on Monday night. Photo: AP/Koji Sasahara

Gov't fears COVID-19 variants are behind possible 4th wave

By Rocky Swift

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Gee, ya think?

17 ( +23 / -6 )

Thank goodness adequate measures like “Quasi” are being put in place, ... eventually.

11 ( +16 / -5 )


I haven’t seen any non-Japanese without masks.

I dont know where you are living and where you are going out, but I see them every day on my way to work. Also yesterday morning in the full packed train, one foreign guy without mask. Probably late 20s.

And if you follow last days posts here at JT, I am not the only one who see them.

But yes, you are correct, Japanese people too.

But what I dont see are Corona waves. Fourth wave?

Where was the second and third wave?

-8 ( +18 / -26 )

The variants appear to be more infectious and may be resistant to vaccines, which are still not widely available in Japan.

While it is true that the vaccination program is almost non-existent here, it is NOT true that the virus variants may be resistant to vaccines. Studies are showing they are still effective, although not as effective against the original virus. I really hope the gov't of Japan is aware of that, and not dithering on the vaccine because they believe they don't work.

"Even though we looked at (various scientific) indicators before lifting the state of emergency, there is some possibility of criticism that we should have forecasted the status of variants."

How was it possible not to factor in the variants? Do these people even read???

11 ( +14 / -3 )

With all due respect, we’re NOT saying we don’t believe Your subjective viewpoint @P.Smith 6:53am:

*- “There is also the fact that a lot of native people don’t wear masks. So far this morning, I have counted 6 Japanese not wearing masks. Two were middle aged dudes sitting next to each other on the train. I haven’t seen any non-Japanese without masks.” -*

Obviously, it’s not ‘a factorto bring up* **unless the media has already made an account and issue of it**. So, disregard any news articles about alleged “mask-refusing”, even as late as Yesterday***.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

There has never been a 2nd wave, 3rd wave, or a 4th wave. The Virus has never left...It is beyond regrettable that the J-Gov't wants to use the word "wave".

25 ( +29 / -4 )

How many Japanese on this packed train weren’t wearing mask or weren’t wearing them correctly?

All Japanese wear a mask and wear them propably. ALL!

But to give you credit, I saw a japanese guy in front of 7~11 talking on the phone without mask.

-23 ( +5 / -28 )

But P. Smith,

Look around you...do you see people falling to death like flies?

Did you see millions of people running to hospitals?

You can live an almost normal life here in Japan, right?

You also can go to work every day and earn money, right?

I didnt say that Japan is perfect, but what I really dont understand is, that many people here are nonstop complaining about Japan, even they can live an almost normal life here.

People should be happy about that.

If they dont want to live an almost normal life, they should leave Japan and move to a country with strickt lockdowns and where people are falling more and more into depression.

Because those people will be probably more happy and satisfy there than here.

I am happy to live in Japan, where I can live an almost normal life.

Of course I am not stupid, I know the risk, but I do my best personal prevention to keep that risk low as possible.

But I say it again, I am very happy to live in Japan, because I can live an almost normal life here, even we are in a pandemic.

-1 ( +21 / -22 )

Do you even read JT? @Monty 7:04am -

*- “I haven’t seen any non-Japanese without masks. And, if you follow last days posts here at JT,...” -*

Your just giving ‘subjective’ and alleged views AND getting Your news from the ‘postings’. You’re not not reading the articles. (Don’t you trust the media?) That may the missing link to reality.

Yesterday’s edition, “Crime“ section may help:


So, where are *Your *media documented cases of ‘foreign guy”s refusing to wear masks?

5 ( +10 / -5 )

But the State Of Emergency was lifted by the Japanese Government. Did no one tell COVID?

17 ( +17 / -0 )

Readers, please don't try to turn this discussion into a debate about masks. Please focus your comments on the story.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Duh....I don't know why Japan seems to think it's unique. Just look at all the data from other countries that have already set the precedent. The big difference is Japan's lack of testing and genome sequencing, there is a lot of asymptomatic transmission going on out there that they don't have eyes on. It's ok though, we've got Go to Golden Week and the Olympics to keep up our morale...

12 ( +16 / -4 )

@ MontyToday  07:30 am JST

totally agree mate

-12 ( +5 / -17 )

OMG! @Monty 7;58a Are You making assumptions about peoples’ ‘identity’ and ethnic background based on outer physical appearance?

- “Are you kidding me??? You can not see the difference between a Japanese person and a western person or a south asian or even a chinese???” -

Do you think COVID-19 is selective, exclusionary and racist? It affects “ALL” humans. If we let your comments prevail, next, you might even try to say girls in tokyo businesses are responsible for the clusters and variants, and that ‘gender’ could be an issue of the spread of this pandemic. - Ridiculous, Amirite?!?!

9 ( +12 / -3 )

Gov't fears COVID-19 variants are behind possible 4th wave

The variants are only a part of the problem.

One year without taking any proper measures would have consequences at some stage.

Japanese Government never took this virus seriously, never took any measures, never informed its people and, naturally, as a consequence, most of its population are not aware of its danger, how easy it spreads, and how to stop spreading.

Due to poor efforts to inform its people by J Gov, most people think “mask on, and everyone is safe”.

This resulted in basically no one making important measures to curb spread a priority.

Great examples are social distancing that is inexistent in Japan - simply no one makes an effort, from everyone seating next to each other everywhere even having more seats available, to packing elevators even when there are marks on the floor indicating that max capacity is for example 9.

Another one is ventilation that most have no idea how crucial it is to stop spread.

Just try to catch a packed train in the morning and notice how many carriages have no open window, or if they have its slightly open. Every single morning I enter the train and start opening windows because no one else will do so, even though the train is SERIOUSLY PACKED.

Last, but not the least, this government should have taken remote working seriously and properly encourage companies to implement itit. 90% of companies still all go to the office because of this lack of action.

As a result, apart from the full trains, all restaurants are completely packed at lunch time and so on, being just the perfect place for some more spread.

I would mention the policy of no contact tracing or the very low testing count, but maybe another time...

So strains the bad boy here? Think twice, I guess there are more to blame.

12 ( +15 / -3 )

There were 249 new infections in Tokyo on Monday, still well below the peak of over 2,500 in January.

One of the reasons the infections seem to be low in number relative to those in other countries is because Japanese are reluctant to admit they might be sick with a disease that "polite society" regards as unpleasant or unsightly.

So, if a person is feeling the possible effects of covid, rather than go to the hospital, he or she toughs it out at home and (hopefully) recovers, without ever being tested.

Out of sight, out of mind -- and never added to the official tally.

As a result, "polite society" falsely believes that there are very few infections, and therefore believe that, as one commenter put it, "you can live an almost normal life here in Japan."

And thus, ignorance prevails.

15 ( +19 / -4 )

Why are we getting "Government fears..." and "Japanese health authorities are concerned..."? It was reported a week ago that a study in Hyogo found 80% of the tested cases were a variant. You should not fear something that is already known to be happening. You should start doing something about it.


17 ( +17 / -0 )

Gov't fears COVID-19 variants are behind possible 4th wave

well of course they are! all over the world!

The situation is worst in Osaka, where infections hit fresh records last week, prompting the regional government to start targeted lockdown measures for one month from Monday.

I VERY MUCH doubt the situation is worse than in Tokyo. The difference is, Osaka is testing more than Tokyo is.

A mutant COVID-19 variant first discovered in Britain has taken hold in the Osaka region, spreading faster and filling up hospital beds with more serious cases than the original virus, according to Koji Wada, a government adviser on the pandemic.

There is also a tokyo strain that is at work here in Kanto.

16 ( +18 / -2 )

I thought it was quite obvious.

You could see it coming soon after the last SOE was lifted.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

I don't know why Japan seems to think it's unique.

Nihonjinron and all that crap. won't help them fight the pandemic though. Hiding your head in the sand seems to work well though.

Just look at all the data from other countries that have already set the precedent. The big difference is Japan's lack of testing and genome sequencing, there is a lot of asymptomatic transmission going on out there that they don't have eyes on.

And also alot of people who have symptoms but are not getting tested for a number of reasons... AND those that do get tested PRIVATELY are not counted, so the number of cases and deaths are underreported just because of THAT.

It's ok though, we've got Go to Golden Week and the Olympics to keep up our morale...

yup! spread the "LOVE"

12 ( +17 / -5 )

With all due respect @thelonius 7:11am:

“How was it possible not to factor in the variants? Do these people even read???” - Re: *"Even though we looked at (various scientific) indicators before lifting the SEO, there is some possibility of criticism..."*

At what point in the pandemic and the Olympic “juggling act” did science and “reading” ever become important to the government?

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Gov fears? I fear more businesses going under and more suicides as project fear ramps up a notch

0 ( +9 / -9 )

"Suga said on Sunday that measures employed in the Osaka area could be expanded to Tokyo and elsewhere if needed."

Or, in other words, a third/quasi-State-of-Emergency is on the horizon. Just in time for Golden Week?

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Who's going to catch the sky when it falls?

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

The other Variants are already in the country and have been for a while, tired of the Gov trying to act dumb like they don't know.

13 ( +14 / -1 )

Japan is paying the price of his hypocrisy and the denying of the virus like it’s something foreign that doesn’t effect them.

A weak government plus the irresponsibility of it’s native people that can’t think outside the box and keep living in the same way as pre covid put Japan in a very dangerous and infectious spot.

Scandals,corruptions from the people that suppose to protect it’s citizens and brainless media makes are the recipe for a perfect disaster.

The world doesn’t look at Japan as a role model but countries like The U.K. and Israel.

6 ( +13 / -7 )

The time for each country to reach 75% vaccination rate is:

USA: 3 months

Chile: 4 months

UK: 5 months

Canada: 10 months

Brazil: 10 months

EU: 1 yr

China: 1.1 yrs

Russia: 1.9 yrs

South Africa: 10 yrs

Japan: 10 yrs

It's time for Japan to speed things up.


14 ( +20 / -6 )

If only Japan had been warned and had had time to prepare!

16 ( +23 / -7 )

The SOE in Kanto finished while the 'third wave' was in full swing. Why is there talk of a fourth one?

To those complaining about others complaining about Japan's handling of the pandemic. We've all met bitter non-Japanese irl who will complain about everything that happens in this country. However, we've also probably met many locals who will drone on about how Japan is 'safe' and Japanese people are 'polite'. It might be a coincidence, but I feel it got slightly worse during the pandemic. I talk to many who seem to have the need to prove the Japanese are somehow superior to others because of lower infection numbers than the rest of the world (which, incidentally, isn't true, if you compare Japan to the rest of East Asia). This can really wear thin. Also, none of us are responsible for what's going on in our old countries. We live here and participate in this society.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Japan is not allowing many foreign visitors in the country, so most of the variants and spreading is done by Japanese citizens entering. I have seen foreigners walking around without masks. They usually look like tourists and less like residents. For example, I saw a wealthy man with his Spanish speaking family of 4 exploring around Tomigaya, and none of them had masks on. The wife looked arrogant wondering why people were staring at them. The husband looked an Embassy worker or high level executive. I mostly see foreign executives from European and Western countries walking around Tokyo like that. Basically, they look like a typical trump supporter/donator; however, they are the exceptions. Most of the foreign residents and students are wearing masks. Same is true with US military personnel.

The majority of people that I see not wearing or mask or just chin warmers are Japanese people. They are the vast majority skirting the rules. Like most statistics except for immigration rules, the majority of rule breakers in Japan are Japanese.

8 ( +15 / -7 )

This site used to be one of the only places that reported the number of people tested in Tokyo per day along with the number of Positives. Please continue to report the number of tested people, with out knowing that, the information is basically useless.

The Media (other media, not JT) have only been reporting the # of positives, so everyone got a false sense of hope thinking it was ok to go out to eat / drink / Hanami etc. Without the public knowing the truth, it will only get worse.

Here is a good site for info in English, but data seems a day or two late..


5 ( +6 / -1 )

Virus mutate to survive. That’s why old vaccines don’t work.

-4 ( +6 / -10 )


There hasn't been more than 6 people die a day in Osaka since mid-February. This wave is therefore either a pseudoepidemic or a very mild variant:


Notice how the media aren't mentioning that it's not that deadly, more fear-mongering

Japan also do not due autopsies, so most deaths are determined based on physical appearance and verified tests from public hospitals only!

Therefore, how do you or anyone else know that actual number of COVID related deaths in Japan?

7 ( +11 / -4 )

If the government is worried about 'mutant' strains of the virus they should be working hard to get the vaccination rate up to millions per day. The newer strains seem to be targeting young people. Citizens should demand that the government get the vaccination rate up to 2 or 3 million per day in the next couple of months. Otherwise, it's going to take years to finish.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Japan have found more than 1,000 cases that only have E484K.

It seems it is the "Japan variant", but nobody among experts want to call it like that. Waiting to make sure it has not been found overseas and stir a debate about its origin ?

The above debate about who wears a mask or not in the train or the street makes non sense.

I see everyday dozens of people not wearing a mask,......in restaurants and cafes. And over 99% are Japanese. These are the places at risk, not the trains or streets.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

The media contributes to increase in depression and suicides.

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

“possible 4th wave” ?

... with this kind of leadership, people should get ready for the 5th ...

7 ( +9 / -2 )

There hasn't been more than 6 people die a day in Osaka since mid-February. This wave is therefore either a pseudoepidemic or a very mild variant:

Low deaths rates are always dependent on having a controlled number of new cases, the alarm now is not because the current levels are the worst that can be expected but because they indicate an increasing trend that would surpass the available services. That would mean that patients that would have count as hospitalizations would become deaths very easily. This is what the efforts are meant to stop.

Virus mutate to survive. That’s why old vaccines don’t work.

Except for the dozens that do work even after decades. Mutations are not magical processes where everything can happen. You could have a vaccine against Yellow Fever made today or from 50 years ago and it would still protects you the same. Even when the virus is RNA based and mutates constantly.

0 ( +9 / -9 )

this is the 4th. wave.

the definition for wave, here, in Japan;

Wave is the span of time between the SOEs.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

I wonder if we should call them waves, if they are due to variants.

Each variant is a new virus that will behave differently, albeit with some similarities.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

I am not sure why it matters if it is the variants or not. The government is not going to do anything different other than call a quasi emergency instead of SOE. Clearly this sounds better and less threatening for the Olympics.

Finding variants doesn’t help the Olympic -beaten the virus dream, nor does more testing for the virus, which is why, despite more recent very public government statements promising to increase testing, it never happens. Probably they should have said more testing to start after the closing ceremony of the Olympics.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Enjoy the current trough

I agree. I really miss GoTo Travel as the virus killed my job, and have lots of free time. Enjoy now!

After all the athletes, media, supporters and their families arrive from all over the world, I will only go camping. But for now...

-12 ( +2 / -14 )

Fourth wave, fourth ripple more like.

No need to live in fear, it’s all ok

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

Agreed @thepersoniamnow 9:31am, (paraphrased):

*- “ half the people here are arguing about Japan; making general, ridiculous statements ...that’s impossible to prove or disprove.” - *

The point of the other half is: Yes, it’s silly to debate individually that some are taking and, some not taking adequate and appropriate prevention measures. *It is the government and, the media, that continue to fail over the last year to keeping it ‘a scientific and medical issue’ through fully-disclosed, truthful ‘facts & statistics’ and less of a ‘political’ issue**.*

One ignorant man’s intentional choice of divisive words in the early stages of the pandemic have led to even more hatred and division in the U.S. It’s still evident as now, as more ‘persons believed to be of certain ethnicities’ are targets of ‘hate crimes’ in recent weeks.

The lesson: ANY chance ‘nationalists’ will get to blame ‘outside’ sources of domestic problems, They Will. It’s profitable for them. Particularly here, in Japan, there is ‘little chance of introspection’ and ‘more chance of increased xenophobia’.

The media’s use of ‘*sensationalistic headlines’ like ‘foreign variants’ exacerbate racism ‘thinly disguised’* and leading to manipulated nationalism, misguided isolationism and ethnic segregation. Based on your comments Mar 4, even you, suspect that segregation of ‘persons based on appearance’ that could happen here, as well.

“I wonder if I (mixed blood) wud get chucked out for not looking Japanese enough.” -*

If we tolerate ANY racist ‘finger pointing’ for the possible factors spreading COVID-19, even in its smallest and subtlest forms here in the ‘comments section’, what may happen to people next?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

After the cherry blossoms and still large numbers of people going to see them - despite being advised not to and also bars re-opening til 9pm etc, there will definitely be an increase in numbers in the coming couple of weeks. Probably a large jump due to these variants. The Brazil variant alone is like a super spreader, spreading 70% more easily. Take caution!

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Virus mutate to survive. That’s why old vaccines don’t work.

wrong theyve been testing the vaccines on the new african and EU stain of the virus and they seem to be as or close to as effective as the original strain. sorry the facts dont care about your feelings and vaccines are still by far the safest way to bring herd immunity to the public

6 ( +8 / -2 )

After the cherry blossoms and still large numbers of people going to see them - despite being advised not

Nobody was advised not to go see cherry blossoms, just not to hold "hanami" parties.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Each variant is a new virus that will behave differently, albeit with some similarities.

If it causes the same disease, is transmitted in the same way, the immunity against any strain can neutralize the infection of any other strain before it becomes clinically apparent then they are not even from a different serotype, much less a new virus.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

COVID variants are just a convenient excuse for poorly managing the pandemic. Is there any proof of variants or is this just some old bloke trying to wiggle his way out of blame?

3 ( +9 / -6 )


Nobody was advised not to go see cherry blossoms, just not to hold "hanami" parties



0 ( +1 / -1 )

As Didou says above the "E484K variant" discovered here and now common in Tokyo is the Japan variant, or more specifically the Tokyo variant*.

It is understandable with the Olympics approaching that no-one within Japan wants to call it anything easy to remember.

(*Osaka has higher numbers of the one originally spotted in the UK.)

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Pfizer works well with UK variant.

The key finding: The percentage of positive antibodies that neutralized the South African variant was 12.4 fold lower for the Moderna vaccine than against the original coronavirus and 10.3 fold lower for the Pfizer vaccine, the study says.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It is irrelevant what mutation of the virus is causing the upsurge when the authorities are doing sod all to mitigate it. This looks like another attempt to frame the crisis as a ‘foreign’ issue.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Japan's present Suga government who wants to early restart infamous "GoTo campaign" seems to make infection insists smaller than actual state.

But they don't yet notice that their insufficient Covid-19 measures that were distracted with economy had increased infected and victims incompetently.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Over 700 new cases in Ōsaka today!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Monty - By non-Japanese do you include other Asian people? Can you tell the difference between Chinese, Korean and Japanese just by sight? Or, are you specifically pointing the finger at Europeans?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The current vaccines do work with all variants. More generic boosters will arrive in the autumn. If we get lucky, we may see a virulent but benign strain emerge.

If you haven't vaccinated your citizens, case numbers will go up between lockdowns. The case numbers are still very low in terms of population.

In 2020, Japan's mortality rate actually went down. So lose the panic.

Concentrate on getting as many people vaccinated as soon as possible.

Japan has wasted time slowly duplicating the certification procedures of other nations and, like most countries, has not ramped up the number of domestic vaccine production labs. Get on with it.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

ZorotoToday 01:20 pm JST

The opposite is true in European countries. 

Some countries count all patients with COVID-19 as a COVID death (e.g. a cancer patient with COVID), some only count those who died directly from COVID-19. There is no one rule.

Stats? Show your stats and links Dr.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Before I travelled to the UK I had a negative PCR test, on arrival quarantined at home for 10 days and did two further PCR tests during this time. Even with these rules it is impossible to stop variants entering a country, but all this conveniently ignores the fact that if you allow a virus to run rampant ie. no lockdowns, no vaccination, it WILL mutate. Closing the borders will not stop mutations if you are not vaccinating or lockdowning.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What waves? That’s still only a very first ripple. You’d better not insist in ever seeing any first or following ‘waves’.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

So, Japan now has its own unique variant-amazing!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I don't remember the first wave ever ending. But whatever. So how many waves is Japan and the GOVT gonna go thru before it cracks open their thick skulls? 8? 21? 45?

0 ( +0 / -0 )


Where was the second and third wave?

First wave peaked around Apr 15 2020.

Second wave peaked around Aug 8 2020.

Third wave peaked around Jan 10 2021.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This pathogen with its abilities to pick up its spreading reaches and morph in to new variants worse than the previous. How can it not be looked at as altered or an enhanced pathogen? Its perfect as far as pathogens go, And its not bio-weaponry. Its a virology weaponry.

Anyone else find the opening of this story a head scratcher?

Japanese health authorities are concerned that variants of the coronavirus are driving a nascent fourth wave in the pan....etc and so forth.

Like, the governing body was not concerned before? Like mildly concerned? Or more concerned cause of the up coming Olympics?

Again the Chinese government and its puppet the W.H.O. can talk about missing elements or variables all they like. Or missing links all they want. The fact is I do not buy it. This pathogen was engineered and you do not need to be a Virologist to see this.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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