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Has Japan dodged the coronavirus bullet?

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By Richard Carter and Natsuko Fukue

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High levels of hygiene. LOL.

I put it down to the habitual donning of masks and people not being touchy-feely--or indeed actually stand-offish--in social settings.

21 ( +34 / -13 )

Well done Japan, for what ever reason the numbers are so low its still good news.

15 ( +30 / -15 )

"Test, test, test is not the Japanese strategy," he told reporters.

But, he warned: "If there is an exponential outbreak again, we need to have more testing."

The guy should be a comedian instead of a professor...

15 ( +24 / -9 )

It's easy to dodge the bullet when the healthcare system does what happened to me: first I experienced symptoms of fever as high as 39.4 ºC degrees and muscle pain + headache simultaneously. Then later came the sore throat, headache, coughing, shortness of breath for almost two weeks now and the doctor thinks it might be bacteria... During a global virus outbreak and a national state of emergency.

46 ( +51 / -5 )

Japan dodged the bullet at least 2 months ago

1 ( +16 / -15 )

We may well have, I hope so anyway. As for testing, the numbers are pretty scary.

https://stopcovid19.metro.tokyo.lg.jp/en/

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Japan just reported very few numbers because there's almost no access to testing and treatment. Even those who got tests had to wait weeks after showing severe symptoms.

Actual infection numbers are likely hundreds times higher. In addition, they are switching from PCR tests to antibody tests now for diagnosis, but it takes the body weeks to create antibodies to show up on tests, so they will report even less positive cases from now on.

In addition, the Japanese government and media continue to spread propaganda that testing causes the spread of Covid-19 to deter more and more of the public from seeking testing.

9 ( +26 / -17 )

You’d never know Japan was seemingly on top of it if you went by all the anti-Japan comments on here and in the press. I think Japan and all the people that live here should be praised for keeping the numbers so low so far, because although it’s not all because of behavioral factors, it certainly is in part down to things like well drilled mask wearing and social distancing ( inbuilt in the culture), cleanliness in general, limited physical contact, social manners, diet, levels of fitness or lack of obesity, obedience to governmental covid advice etc. these are all things that I think people here do well, and so enough of the Japan bashing folks:)

5 ( +28 / -23 )

LOL, Japan doesn't have a major election in 6 months.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

It’s delusional to pat the government on the back as they’ve not been testing enough at all.

As of May 11, the health ministry said there had been 218,204 tests, by far the lowest per capita rate in the G7, according to Worldometers.

If you don’t test, you don’t get cases recorded. Therefore, the number of cases are inaccurate and are in reality at least 10X. The playbook is, the lower the number of recorded cases the quicker you can lift the state of emergency and wishfully think everything will magically be safe and go back to normal.

16 ( +25 / -9 )

The results speak for themselves. Well done Mr. Abe. No freezer trucks backed up with dead bodies in Tokyo. My intuition is that Japan closed the border just in time.

-18 ( +19 / -37 )

Yes we have done well!

I am very glad that many haven’t lost their life despite the discrepancies in leadership, politics being put over the people, and other shortcomings and wasted time.

Most comments here will no doubt people saying negativities.

Later with hindsight we will be able to analyze this better.

-1 ( +14 / -15 )

"Test, test, test is not the Japanese strategy," he told reporters.

Which is totally strange and out of character, as it seems that "tests" are all they use to mark a person's abilities here!

32 ( +39 / -7 )

Well done Japan, for what ever reason the numbers are so low its still good news.

Please pass whatever you are smoking around to the rest of us! If you even trust for one second the government here when it comes to "statistics" you and everyone else who thinks like this, is living in la-la land!

14 ( +31 / -17 )

If we answer this question based on mortality rate, Japan has passed with flying colors.

Weekly totals are falling which makes the news even brighter.

This virus wasn't the killer that is was hyped up to be, which is great news.

Now let's be careful not to kill people by ruining the economy more that they already have.

-7 ( +17 / -24 )

A lot of people got sick,but were told to stay home with whatever they had unless it got really bad, and it didn't get counted"

27 ( +29 / -2 )

If you don’t test, you don’t get cases recorded. Therefore, the number of cases are inaccurate and are in reality at least 10X

Yeah, but they can't play the same game with the death rate, which is extraordinarily low at just 678 nationwide total and provides pretty strong evidence that the low testing rate is not hiding the fact that Japan is getting hit as hard as anywhere else. It clearly isn't.

It might be suspected that the death rate too is being low-balled by officials attributing deaths by COVID 19 to other causes, but the evidence suggests this isn't the case either - the overall mortality rate from all causes hasn't spiked, which would happen if that were the case (in fact in Tokyo it has actually decreased slightly compared to the same time last year).

All the evidence we have, even with its limitations, strongly point to Japan having avoided the worst case scenarios that are playing out in other countries.

Back in March I was extremely skeptical about these arguments that Japan's cultural norms surrounding cleanliness, mask wearing and not making personal contact were protecting it from a widespread outbreak. But the longer Japan avoids a widespread outbreak (despite not implementing a strict lockdown or widespread testing) the more I find myself being persuaded that there is something to those arguments.

10 ( +21 / -11 )

"If there is an exponential outbreak again, we need to have more testing."

Is this genius really a university professor? :D :D

How are you going to trace a sudden growth in a timely manner without testing proactively?

An exponential outbreak again?.... hmm.... so he is suggesting that Japan has all measures in place to prevent that? I'm not so sure.

Even if this virus is less fatal than we first thought, it simply cannot be claimed that Japan is doing sufficient testing to claim to be in control of the spread. That is absolutely ridiculous and a false proposition.

The comments from this professor reeks of bias. Embarrassing.

10 ( +15 / -5 )

Listen, look at the results even in crowded Tokyo. Very few deaths for a major city. Japan could hardly have done better.

6 ( +20 / -14 )

It's still too early to get complacent though.

18 ( +20 / -2 )

Even the government's own coronavirus expert, Shigeru Omi, has admitted "nobody knows" whether the true number of coronavirus cases "could be 10 times, 12 times or 20 times more than reported."

And that's the problem. Japan has all the factors which should ordinarily make this spread like wildfire but because of inadequate testing, then chalking up deaths to anything but Covid-19, and it makes any other reasonable nation turn to Japan, raise their eyebrows and say "Are your sure????"

As it stands, Australia and New Zealand, two of the few countries which have a handle on this, have tested 20X more people per 100K of population then Japan.

They just don't know, and it is politically very convenient not to know.

11 ( +17 / -6 )

This maybe too simplistic so if someone with a better understanding of maths and mortality can also comment.

Can we just calculate the difference between the actual number of deaths and the projected number of deaths (based on population age etc.) and make this number to be the deaths related to COVID19 ?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@Tom

Sensible way of thinking.

How about the recent outbreak of 133 people in Seoul very soon after reopening?

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200513_27/

Facts are there’s no vaccine yet.

13 ( +14 / -1 )

Since it is very difficult to get approval for testing, how can we be sure of the accuracy of the figures?

15 ( +15 / -0 )

This week I have noticed a disturbing trend locally and worldwide that "We have beaten this.".

We have not.

Look at the numbers.

Cases are still increasing, locally and worldwide, and there is still so much unknown about the virus. Best treatment.. Is reinfection possible.. Extensive lung damage even in mild cases... The new, scary side effects in children who died from it (Cases in America).. etc etc etc.

Look at the 1918 Spanish Flu. Re-opening early can be catastrophic.

Take Vitamin D too.

2 ( +9 / -7 )

Dont worry guys the bullet is coming! If not as Coronavirus then as a Economic Crisis!

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Testing are low and that might be one reason that the total number of infections are low but the number of deaths are low which means the virus is not as wide spread and deadly as compare to USA and Europe.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

Numbers in Japan are much higher than the officially reported figures, as per this study:

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.26.20079822v1.full.pdf

4 ( +5 / -1 )

It should be noted that New York actually got mostly the "european" strain of covid (it has mutated slightly from the original Wuhan virus). Perhaps that strain seen there and in Europe is more deadly than the strain in Japan.

Just a thought.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

No, of course not.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Larr Flint

You sound disappointed. You could at least say you hope things won't get worse.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Japan only “developed” country that has people dying on its streets of covid.

wait till June 1st when the Yamamote is packed again. Abe fake lowering total number by not testing, in order to try to save the Olympics, will continue to have repercussions in two weeks time.

-5 ( +7 / -12 )

So only testing 500 people a day and there are low numbers, who would have thought?

2 ( +8 / -6 )

Maybe more luck than judgement, however the idiom counting one's chickens (before they hatch) could turn the whole bullet dodging theory sour.

The Japanese culture of quote, mask-wearing, removing shoes, bowing not shaking hands, low obesity levels and even consuming certain foods rings true.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Yeah I dont believe anything that Abe and co are throwing out there...

8 ( +11 / -3 )

With the world's oldest population and one of the most crowded megacities on the planet as its capital

Miracle territory this, isn't it. There must be more logical explanation.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

people are not dying because of corona virus in Japan. If the govt is hiding the numbers and only testing a few, the number of people dead is something you can not hide. So testing or no testing, still Japan is not having a pandemic.

-5 ( +6 / -11 )

kurisupisu:

The guy should be a comedian instead of a professor...

Tom:

The comments from this professor reeks of bias. Embarrassing.

Here is the entire conference with this doctor:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEEzU5sAT_M

1 ( +1 / -0 )

let the death toll do the talking in japan corona virus not the tested number of people.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Don't ask what the virus can do to you. Ask what Japan can do against the virus.

We need to the monthly death figures for the months so far this year, so we can compare to the same months last year.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

“a culture of hygiene and hand-washing.”

Whoever wrote this has never been in a men’s public toilet, they don’t even look at the sink 95% of the time!

great that it looks like we’ve dodge the bullet, fingers crossed.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

Rainyday

Yeah, but they can't play the same game with the death rate, which is extraordinarily low at just 678 nationwide total and provides pretty strong evidence that the low testing rate is not hiding the fact that Japan is getting hit as hard as anywhere else. It clearly isn't.

How are you so sure ?

Could you back your statement with facts.

Thinking the death rate can't be under reported doesn't mean it can't. The death rate for Tokyo corrected by the MHWL from 19 to 171. Nobody even suspected the initial number was under reported.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Japan's testing numbers are ridiculously low, and there have surely been an enormous number of cases that just haven't been recognized.

That said, apparently, the total number of deaths - for all reasons - in Tokyo over the first number of the year is showing no increase that could be attributed to the virus. (*see note below) In fact, the number for the first three months is slightly down - possibly due to more people staying at home, not getting lost climbing mountains, drowning in rivers, and giving each other the flu.

Perhaps we'll find hordes more dead at home who just haven't been noticed yet, but it does seem like we've dodged a big bullet. Let proceed with caution and hope we can keep out of that bullet's way.

(*From JapanTimes yesterday:

"The capital saw 33,106 deaths in the three months through March, 0.4 percent fewer than the average of the previous four years for the same period, according to data from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government."

3 ( +7 / -4 )

So all the people questioning the low numbers are saying Japan is lying about the deaths? Do you really think all the hospitals would work in cahoots with the govt to hide deaths? Really? That would be a crime of epic proportions. Maybe the numbers aren’t as accurate as they can be but the Japanese govt would have to be hiding thousands upon thousands of deaths .

0 ( +6 / -6 )

I want a thorough inquiry and review on responses the government has made. It is argued that the nationwide state emergency (and extension) was unnecessary as the peak had already come prior to it. The expert panel with updated analysis has admitted this point. The alarmist outlook of 420,000 deaths within a month have never occurred (the panel even denied it saying it's not official). Abenomask is ending up a joke.

Regardless of the virus crisis and outcomes, beefing up the local health care system and screening programs at entry levels for prospective outpatients are needed.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

Only time will tell. They have dodged the worst of it, so far. However, that is not to say the worst is yet to come. Perhaps coming into summer will help, but winter will come back soon enough and so will the virus.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

@zichi

We need to the monthly death figures for the months so far this year, so we can compare to the same months last year.

When it comes to "excess death", below is the latest report on Tokyo data up to March:

Tokyo mortality data shows no surge in deaths during pandemic

The capital saw 33,106 deaths in the three months through March, 0.4 percent fewer than the average of the previous four years for the same period,

I have yet to obtain info in other prefectures, but the pattern may be almost identical. Tokyo is the largest in case numbers and death toll, so I see it enough for an inquiry.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

The numbers are so low, because people aren't being tested. Even if they feel sick.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Forgotten putting the reference:

Tokyo mortality data shows no surge in deaths during pandemic

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/05/12/national/tokyo-overall-mortality-data-shows-no-surge-deaths-pandemic/#.Xr0SeRr7TIW

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

The virus has been here in Japan since December, Millions of Chinese has been coming in and out of Japan until the end of February. In my opinion, Japanese are not at risk. Look at other Asian nations, they are not also dying. Look at Europe and America., they seems to be more susceptible.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Report the truth pls. Why do u think Tokyo, Osaka are in saty at home mode ???

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

"Yet the country of 126 million has recorded 16,024 cases and 668 deaths, according to the health ministry"

And how many tests compared to other nations, since they are intent on comparing in terms of infection and deaths? Isn't it 1/1000th of SK's testing?

"It may take more knowledge to answer the Japan puzzle."

Yeah... 'puzzle'.

0 ( +9 / -9 )

The reason you test is to contain the spread of the virus. Japan is testing way below the standards of japantoday experts. Now can you please tell me dear experts why is the virus not killing thousands of people in Japan? You see the virus is spreading all over Japan because Japan is not containing the virus because of low testing. Show me the dead people and I believe your doomsday predictions.

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

Australia as one of the most urbanized countries on the planet has had a pro-rata death rate much lower than Japan.

It's confirmed cases however are much higher than Japan's due to arguably the most extensive testing in the world.

It seems Aust - a land where intimate social engagement is the norm - has achieved this through strict monitoring and locking down of most of the country.

Both countries have achieved low rates, but possibly Aust diagnostic metrics paint a closer to true picture of the situation, whereas Japan's data lacks a level of clarity to know 100% what is really under the surface.

But whatever, I hope for a continuance of the low numbers here.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Japan, as well as most of East and Southeast Asian nations, dodged the bullet because they have a different virus strain than that in Europe and America.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

@erbavivaToday  06:06 pm JST

people are not dying because of corona virus in Japan. If the govt is hiding the numbers and only testing a few, the number of people dead is something you can not hide

According to Mainich (https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200401/p2a/00m/0na/014000c), it doesn't so difficult to hide it:

"in late March a male user identifying himself as a worker involved in preparing bodies for cremation posted a tweet saying, "There are a lot of cases in which testing has not been carried out, so the corpses of untested people who died from pneumonia are treated in the same way, though it's painful to see this. People on the scene are on edge."

4 ( +5 / -1 )

However, Kazuto Suzuki, professor of public policy at Hokkaido University, said

> "Test, test, test is not the Japanese strategy,"

Hi there.

Have you ever lived in Japan or seen their endless test test test mentality?

I mean they have preparations for pre-test tests!!!!

well, apparently not.....

1 ( +4 / -3 )

But the longer Japan avoids a widespread outbreak (despite not implementing a strict lockdown or widespread testing) the more I find myself being persuaded that there is something to those arguments.

I’m afraid, rainyday, that I just don’t find blind luck a persuasive argument.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

No, the US and EU do not even trust Japan. They put a warning travel restriction on Japan before the Olympics was cancelled.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

Yet the country of 126 million has recorded 16,024 cases and 668 deaths, according to the health ministry -- rates so far below comparable nations that many have been left scratching their heads and others suspicious that authorities are not giving the full picture.

I'm going with authorities are not giving the full picture.

I put it down to the habitual donning of masks and people not being touchy-feely--or indeed actually stand-offish--in social settings.

I put it down to this:

the true extent of the crisis in Japan is unknown given relatively low rates of testing.

As of May 11, the health ministry said there had been 218,204 tests, by far the lowest per capita rate in the G7, according to Worldometers.

fogettiToday  04:16 pm JST -

It's easy to dodge the bullet when the healthcare system does what happened to me: first I experienced symptoms of fever as high as 39.4 ºC degrees and muscle pain + headache simultaneously. Then later came the sore throat, headache, coughing, shortness of breath for almost two weeks now and the doctor thinks it might be bacteria... During a global virus outbreak and a national state of emergency.

@fogettiToday - Am truly sorry to hear this. It's likely you have the virus. By all means go to another hospital or clinic and tell them your symptoms and experience at the hospital or clinic you went. You need to get tested. If only you could hop on a plane for the hour or so flight to Korea you could get tested far more easily there.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

No, you are not even testing.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

If Japan has indeed dodged a bullet then that's great. No one who was worrying about a massive rise 'in 2 weeks' was hoping for such a scenario, but it seemed likely given the situation in other countries.

The weird thing is that Japan appears to have dodged a bullet despite appearing to do almost everything 'wrong' and appearing to be a perfect candidate for big problems.

The government hasn't done a great job. The lockdown came very late and took a long time to be taken to heart. Lessons from almost every other country have been ignored or implemented very late. Yet cases appear low.

It's great news, but perplexing.

Maybe it's the masks. I can't think it's the much touted 'cleanliness and hand washing' as that appears to be mostly a myth (based on my personal experiences). Maybe it's the weather. Maybe it's the fact that everyone in big cities ignores each other. Maybe it's tofu.

It'll be interesting to find out in a few years when they've had a chance to do some research.

Fingers crossed that it's true and it continues!

10 ( +12 / -2 )

Oh, and I wonder if the low level of obesity will turn out to be a factor too.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Am truly sorry to hear this. It's likely you have the virus. By all means go to another hospital or clinic and tell them your symptoms and experience at the hospital or clinic you went. You need to get tested. If only you could hop on a plane for the hour or so flight to Korea you could get tested far more easily there.

Regarding testing, it doesn't really matter where he went. Because it is not the doctor who can decide who gets the test. The doctor must contact the government health office and ask for permission for test.

Cases like this would be considered lucky;

https://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/national/list/202005/CK2020050102000132.html

Many cases would have just been rejected outright and never had a chance to obtain a test before they die. Once you die, especially at home, Japan no longer tests.

Also Japanese government statistics cannot really be trusted. I worked with MHLW data before, and a number of them were confirmed in our projects to be made-up or at least error-ridden data that does not match at all with on-the-ground market data.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

According to Mainich (https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200401/p2a/00m/0na/014000c), it doesn't so difficult to hide it:

"in late March a male user identifying himself as a worker involved in preparing bodies for cremation posted a tweet saying, "There are a lot of cases in which testing has not been carried out, so the corpses of untested people who died from pneumonia are treated in the same way, though it's painful to see this. People on the scene are on edge."

It's an isolated case, short of the source cross-checking. Seriously ill patients at hospital are usually tested before they die (for fear of inhouse outbreak)

Even if all of those "dubious" dead bodies are added to the corona record, Japan would remain significantly very low in death toll by about 1/100 in comparison to other virus-hit countries, some of which are even suspected of such statistical mishap, underreporting .... or mass hiding :)

-6 ( +5 / -11 )

As mentioned on another post today, Death rate in Tokyo -0.4% for the same period January - March. (see my post elsewhere zichi - its real news from Bloomberg yesterday) No 'excess' death so far.

Testing - too late. This is what the Government have gone with - I think I can safely say that we all disagree with this strategy. But it is now Mid May. The Virus hit the shores of Japan at the end of January. Contact/Trace testing is only any good at the beginning of an epidemic so, really enough of your histrionics @smithinjapan. Its tiresome. I believe the figures no more than you do - so really, its time to stop with the constant bashing at Japan for the sake of it. You do it on ANY topic regardless.

Where is there mass death? Where are the makeshift morgues? I do not take any death lightly - every death is sad. The figures of death from Covid-19 were revised +152 yesterday - this is almost laughable too, but it does look like this country has dodged the bullet.

A second wave is coming - a possible second SOE will be declared where it has been rescinded. We have to wait for another week to see what will happen in the remaining areas of Japan (Tokyo, Osaka etc).

European lockdowns are being lifted , albeit in stages with still incredible rates of death are still present.

Germany are happy to live with the R rate being just over 1 if need be to get things moving again. The economies of the world know that have to start moving on. The numbers are now enough bar the few (and they are few in the big scheme of things) to see in a very clear way the demographic that succumbs to this horrible virus. I must repeat, I do NOT take this lightly. But, it is now more widely acknowledged that we are going to have to live with this virus around the world for possibly years to come. There will be no safe, reliable, mass affordable vaccine any time soon. If you wish to self isolate I would not criticize you in any way, I fully respect it. But if you are serious about it, by the time you emerge you may find flying taxis and a 8G DoCoMo network outside your front door.

We will adapt here and right now that means in Japan - If you live here why stop looking elsewhere for the answer? There isn't one - apart from possibly Taiwan, but are they going to open their borders anytime soon? (they are the ONLY country that reacted possibly quickly enough) No. Nor should Japan.

Stay safe, Stay sensible and be grateful we have been spared thus far the terrible death tolls of elsewhere - and frankly if you don't like it, then go back to your own countries and see what a wonderful job they've done.

As Bill Gates said the other day, NO-ONE is going to get an 'A' for the way they have handled this.

-2 ( +8 / -10 )

There's a lot more we need to find out about this virus, that's for sure.

Agree that testing has been minimal here so luck has played a part. But, as others have mentioned, deaths cannot be hidden so easily. Other countries such as Singapore also have high infection rates but very few deaths.

Definitely some other factors at play; climate, population health, culture etc. Or maybe more dangerous strains of the virus developed in the West. If that's the case then there's going to be trouble if international travel opens up again.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

The government hasn't done a great job. The lockdown came very late

There still hasn't been a lockdown even in Tokyo. It's been pretty much you can go wherever you want even without a mask, and you can keep your restaurant, hair salon, etc. open if you want.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

Just to add, whatever the reason for the low death count, I'm grateful to be in Japan right now. I hope things get better for everyone everywhere soon.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Totally agreed SQ. Very well said.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

When you see how hard it was for the poor sumo guy in getting a hospital you just thank your lucky stars it didn't fully hit.

How can that be possible

6 ( +7 / -1 )

My city has no testing, no masks and no money. What a great, successful response! :D

7 ( +9 / -2 )

'How can that be possible'

The Sumo Stables have been terrified of the Virus coming their way. They were amongst the first sports to compete behind closed doors?

I love Sumo - I've been watching it for close to 30 years, But these wrestlers are right up there in the highest risk category to die should they contract it. I really hope that comment was not made in sarcasm.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

It's an isolated case, short of the source cross-checking. Seriously ill patients at hospital are usually tested before they die (for fear of inhouse outbreak)

Most patients never make it to hospitals let alone tested.

If you die at home, which is pretty much the answer health office give to most people in order to reduce testing, testing are not being done.

Also hospitals cannot test by themselves unless they want to break the government guidance, even if hospitals want to prevent in-house outbreak, they will still need to obtain permission from the government health office to authorize the test.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

blahblah222Today 08:29 pm JST

Most patients never make it to hospitals let alone tested.

If you die at home, which is pretty much the answer health office give to most people in order to reduce testing, testing are not being done.

Also hospitals cannot test by themselves unless they want to break the government guidance, even if hospitals want to prevent in-house outbreak, they will still need to obtain permission from the government health office to authorize the test.

Give it up already you are at the wrong.

Japan had dodged the bullet for now.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

The data that should be followed to have a situation as real as possible of the coronavirus are the following:

1) Follow the total number of people hospitalized daily by Covid 19. This will be the first indicator that will determine which prefecture will be in a phase of increase or decrease.

2) But above all, the data reported by the ICUs must be carefully followed. (intensive care units). Because that data will determine the peak of the pandemic. I can almost say it's the most reliable data of all. Since they are the only ones that cannot be hidden or simply disguised. 

My recommendation is to follow only the daily data reported by the ICUs. An increase or decrease in this area will be the first indicator whether Japan is emerging from the pandemic or not.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

My Japanese doctor friend is referring his patients for testing and still, today, they refuse some patients and except others.

Second, the death rate is higher according to my friend who works in Kuakusho stating not all coronavirus deaths got recorded, because many times at the beginning of this virus outbreak patients were sent straight to the funeral home.

With so many people who could be walking around with no symptoms and yet have the virus and lack of testing we all should be very, very scared.

Abe is following Trump's lead and America has a million plus cases are we next?

5 ( +11 / -6 )

The secret is the umeboshi.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

One more point there was a very well known Sumo wrestler they tried for a week to get him tested and find a hospital to admit him and could not until he was on death's door. The ambulance picked him up and they drove around for 3 hours around Tokyo looking for a hospital to take him in and he ended up dying I believe the day before yesterday.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Combination of little physical contact, masks, and warm temperatures.

Low testing probably has some influence on the low numbers, but Japan clearly did not have a massive surge in deaths...

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

blahblah:

Japan just reported very few numbers because there's almost no access to testing and treatment. Even those who got tests had to wait weeks after showing severe symptoms.

Actual infection numbers are likely hundreds times higher. 

Japan has never claimed the reported number of people who tested positive reflects the actual number of corona virus cases.

Even this article quotes Dr Omi:

Even the government's own coronavirus expert, Shigeru Omi, has admitted "nobody knows" whether the true number of coronavirus cases "could be 10 times, 12 times or 20 times more than reported."

Japan thinks that it does not matter much. What matters is that testing should help finding those people who might die or become seriously ill without medical assistance. Hence the testing filtering based on priority. You do not get testing because you want to be tested; instead, you get testing because doctor decides that you need testing. This is the result of Japan's strategy from the very beginning when they set the highest priority to saving lives and keeping hospitals from being overwhelmed. It's not an ideal solution, but the best solution available for Japan while testing capacity and beds are limited.

Japan kept increasing testing capabilities and beds over time. But it never changed the priority; test first those who need more help than others and only within hospital capabilities.

I am more convinced now that the strategy has worked so far.

-2 ( +8 / -10 )

While I get eyesored reading people,blabbering about more testing,I think there's a Stockholm Syndrome setting in.Some people just feel more secure being under a S.of E. and at the same time popping off about nonsense,when in answer to the original question,Japan has thankfully it seems been fortunate.I got reminded the other day that on the whole Asia itself is not too bad,but all this testing rant talk is based on the U.S.and European situations.Look closer to home,though I know many Japanese have no love for fellow Asians.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

noriahojanenToday  07:49 pm JST

Even if all of those "dubious" dead bodies are added to the corona record, Japan would remain significantly very low in death toll by about 1/100 in comparison to other virus-hit countries, some of which are even suspected of such statistical mishap, underreporting .... or mass hiding :)

Nobody trusts Japan's case or death number -- Japan is probably both under-reporting and "mis-reporting." Japan already has a huge flu/pneumonia mortality rate, significantly higher than most developed countries. -- compare Japan's f&p deaths for instance against the US: in 2017, there were 145,866 (Japan) vs 55,672 (US) deaths in just one year (2.5x death rate, or 6.25x per population than the US). And knowing what we know about Japan's response to the virus so far, there is absolutely no reason to be believe in Japan's death toll.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

rainydayToday  04:52 pm JST

Yeah, but they can't play the same game with the death rate, which is extraordinarily low at just 678 nationwide total and provides pretty strong evidence that the low testing rate is not hiding the fact that Japan is getting hit as hard as anywhere else. It clearly isn't.

Nobody should trust that gov't's death toll. We need to look at the death number in 2020 vs previous years:

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/04/28/us/coronavirus-death-toll-total.html

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Actual infection numbers are likely hundreds times higher. In addition, they are switching from PCR tests to antibody tests now for diagnosis, but it takes the body weeks to create antibodies to show up on tests, so they will report even less positive cases from now on.

You're confused.

The new tests that will be supplementing PCR are antigen tests, not antibody. They may sound vaguely similar but they're entirely different things.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

"Has Japan dodged the coronavirus bullet?"

I do think there is a reason for why this question provokes so much controversy. If Japan has indeed dodged the coronavirus bullet, that's great. Nobody should be disappointed by the relatively low number of people in Japan who have died from the virus.

This is a thing among people who really know Japan and Japanese people well, but I do think there are some people who are apprehensive about seeing a revival of "Nihonjinron" discourse if it's generally concluded that Japan was spared the worst of the virus, similar to avoiding the worst effects of the oil shocks and economic crises of the 1970s.

By Nihonjinron discourse, I mean ethnocentric, excessively navel-gazing discussions about why the Japanese people are unique in positive ways. A lot of people really, REALLY do not wish to see a revival of such pseudoscientific blather among Japan-born, ethnic Japanese people. Count me among those people. In other words, wonderful if Japan has dodged the bullet but I'd prefer that Japanese people not conclude they are unique and special as a result. Because such feelings easily give way to arrogance, and arrogance about better weathering the economic storms of the 1970s is partially what led Japan into the ultimately disastrous Bubble Economy era of the 1980s.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Nope. Look at the fragmented economy. I would be surprised if Abe is able to live through this crisis as prime minister. This economic downfall is exactly what made the DPJ leave office in 2012. Would surprise me if the same thing didn't happen to Abe.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Good for Japan, disproving the naysayers once again.

If it were any other country but Japan, these same people would then be praising the country and its people for being fortunate to have dodged a bullet and adhering to proper social distancing and face mask wearing orders.

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

Folks as I said a few days back the ONLY way we might be able to get a handle on the number of deaths is to compare yearly data on OVERALL deaths 2020 compared to the past!

With basically almost no testing the ""data"" on number of positives found & DEATHS will NEVER be even remotely accurate

Since country stats take a long time to be released I suspect we will NEVER know the truth.....very Japanese sadly!

If 2020 shows higher numbers of deaths I fully expect the govt to fudge those numbers so we don't see much difference compared to other years.

In my opinion I fully expect the govt to lie & deceive.....its WHAT THEY DO!

4 ( +7 / -3 )

GW said " ...I fully expect the govt to lie & deceive.....its WHAT THEY DO!"

There is difference between errors and lies. All data driven science are error prone, that is the science.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

Few days ago weeks ago so much Anti-Japan propaganda.

If you listen to the comments millions of Japanese have it but didn't get tested.

If you listen to the comments you would think tens of thousands of Japanese have died, but it's not the case!

S. Korea was seen as a success to many Japan haters!

If you look at their population compared to Japans population, the numbers of death is very close. Does it matter when you hate Japan? No

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

I claim the title as the poster who most often criticizes headlines on Japan Today. I must have done it a least a dozen times. I do this in spite of knowing, from a couple of journo friends, that it is sometimes written by a different person to the article. Anyway this headline

Has Japan dodged the coronavirus bullet?

strikes me as the key question with the perfect wording. I think Japan has handled Covid 19 ineptly, but has got away with it, that is, with a low number of serious cases and a low number of deaths. There may be millions more who have been infected, but if they are not seriously ill, they don't matter and there is little point counting them. You do not close schools and your economy for non-seriously ill people. It would be interesting to know Japan has so few serious cases. I certainly hope it continues, and would be interested if a definitive study were to come out in the future. As a former non-believer in masks, I just hope that the definitive study doesn't say that "ugai" saved Japan from thousands of deaths. Being wrong on one thing was bad enough. I'd have to go off and sulk somewhere if I was wrong on two.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Apparently there has not been a lot of testing in Japan. Why do they need to test everyone? I read about a nurse in America who requested to be tested and was refused multiple times. She later died. So I guess other countries aren’t doing the testing perfectly either.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Some perspectives

Data as of 14th of May 2020, 2.30 pm GMT per https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

Have a look a the data; total death, death per 1 million population for the following region & countries

*i'm deliberately excluding China & other less developing asian countries with questionable facilities (e.g. Indonesia, Cambodia, Myanmar)

**Total POPULATION** **Total DEATH** **Death per 1 million** (million)

A. East Asia

South Korea 51 260

Japan 126 678

Taiwan 24 7

Hong Kong 7 4

B. Southeast asia

Singapore 5.6 21

Malaysia 31.5 112

Thailand 69 56

Philippines 106.7 790

ASIA* TOTAL 421 1928 4.5

C. WESTERN EUROPE

UK 66.7 33614

FRANCE 67 27074

SPAIN 47 27321

ITALY 60 31106

GERMANY 83 7861

BELGIUM 11.5 8903

NETHERLAND 17.3 5590

WESTERN EUROPE* TOTAL 352.5 141300 400!!!!

The Western European countries* have a 100 times more death per 1 million population than the selected Asian countries!!!

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

What i'm trying to say is, there are multiple factors at play, that contributed to the fortunate current situation for some of those Asian countries (with 421 million population) & the same variables were making some western European countries (352 million population) at a disadvantage!

Positive factors

Face mask is already part of Japan, Taiwan, & Hong Kong culture

The majority of Asian countries are more accommodating to the lock-down/quarantine/stay at home order

I honestly believe the higher temperature & humidity also help slow down the transmission of the virus in some Asian countries (e.g. Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia)

General healthcare preparation & alert due to past global outbreak e.g Sars 2003, Swine flu 2009

Negative factors

The same temperature & humidity factor actually works in reverse for the European nations, because the virus thrive in lower (5-15'C) temp & less humidity

Older citizen make up a larger proportion of the population for the European nations

And most of these elders are in a concentrated nursing / care home, perfect breeding spot for the virus

Closer skin / human contact
-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Japan is doing well without the troubling authoritarian measures that many Western countries have adopted.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

pfff 16,103 active covid19 confirmed cases at a poppulation of 130million is nothing compared to USA. Please do your testing correctly....and stop hiding real numbers.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Who says it's over yet for Japan? So far as I can tell from multiple sources Japan isn't even posting numbers.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

has the number of deaths increasing in Japan? NO. Claim all you want telling that Japan is hiding the numbers but do the simple math. Was there an increase in the number of death in Japan? Go find your answers.

I met a guy who claimed that there are people living in Japan has been infected with the virus and that thousands of people are dying but the govt is hiding the body count. I said I don't think so. So he said Prove me wrong.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@Jeff Huffman: Obviously I am very interested in this, Can you reveal your multiple sources so that I can inform myself too. I'm about to head out to work in a physical office, I'd like to know the truth.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

If you don’t test , of course numbers will be lower, not sure this is something people should pat their back and celebrate

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Just my perspective, but when I compare crowds in America, and crowds in Japan, I do think Japanese are more hygienic. I know, you may be the God of Hygiene, but just go to Wal-Mart and you can see it's not just about you. We are fatter by a significantly high percentage, sweat more, bodily fluids. Most Japanese do laundry nearly every single day. Americans are still very new to the idea of face masks and some are oblivious. I don't claim Japan is great, but in terms of the hygiene of masses of people compared to America where I'm from, I think Japan's hygiene is generally better. They still need to actually wash their hands instead of just flicking the damn water tho, is gross.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I said it here severally on JT: relatively speaking, the Japanese are more hygienic and pay closer attention to their palliative healthcare than all the countries I've visited - fifty four.

Meanwhile, just look at us here in the US, in contrast: obesity, rampant hypertension, diabetes, poor personal hygiene, etc! Sadly, I see us getting to 150,000 dead Americans by September 1st.

These Japanese SARS-CoV-2 numbers are illustrative of certain positive aspects to the Japanese standards of excellence, creativity, way of life, and sense of doing things. Yes, and that includes the unorthodox means the Abe government has employed in tackling the virulent transmission of this virus.

Keep up the great job Japan!

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Plus side, Japan's hygiene is excellent bathing daily, washing hands thoroughly with soap, taking shoes off before entering the home and wearing masks.

Down side, the never question authority in this case the Government. My Japanese friend, a doctor who refers patients for testing keeps complaining they refuse his requests for some of his patients who have pneumonia type symptoms.

Big example, the Sumo wrestler who was sick for a month with the virus and the stable tried to get him tested they were refused over and over. Finally, when the poor man was on his death's door the stable called an ambulance which drove around Tokyo for 3 hours to find a hospital to take him and only days later he died. This is not acceptable in 2020, and this Sumo's story is not the first people have died walking home after trying to seek help for this virus.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

After reading through all the comments above, I find it very sad that so many on here seem to want to see Japan battered in this pandemic like we see else where, those who still doubt the no.s should take the trouble to find out the total deaths in Tokyo alone from January to date as compared to the previous 4 yrs, that should give u a better picture of deaths as a result of this pandemic so far, and let’s not forget that covid corpse are marked hazardous and treated differently, who will you be fooling when you treat a covid corpse like a normal corpse?

this article made mention of the underlining factors that has kept the virus at bay in Japan, whether you believe it or not, the results are there for you to compare, some countries have focused so much on testing and testing without paying attention to how to prevent the virus from spreading rapidly, What most countries got wrong was not encouraging all to put on face masks whiles out there, it would have saved a lot of lives by now, Hopefully by end of the year we will have a clear picture of why some countries couldn’t get the virus under control and allowed it to cause such deaths

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Thanks to BCG vaccination.

That's the reason of Japan's success, I believe.

https://www.jsatonotes.com/2020/03/if-i-were-north-americaneuropeanaustral.html

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think as a nation we've been very lucky, because we Japanese have been selfish and stubborn for a great deal of this coronavirus period. Only of late have people started obeying the government rules and suggestions.

The sad thing is that many people will see this as Japan being better/cleaner/safer than elsewhere. It isn't really. I was born here and have lived here for the majority of my life. When I hear people talking about higher hygiene levels, I cringe. We might clean the streets here, but personal hygiene leaves a lot to be desired. ALOT.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Ashley Shiba, I have to disagree. Bathing daily, possibly. But at night before work, then going to work without washing, spending time on the subway and at work.

Washing hands? From a male point of view, alot of men don't wash their hands thoroughly, if at all, after using the bathroom.

We might take shoes off before entering the home, but the feet aren't clean, and many houses are dusty.

Its a shame.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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