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SoftBank's Son criticized for offering free coronavirus tests

By Chris Gallagher

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Yeah, why take his assistance when the main reason for not doing the maximum number of test within the capacity is to hide the infected number of people in Japan...simple as that!

30 ( +35 / -5 )

Odd that South Korea can test thousands of people a day, but Japan lacks the capacity.

Is the pushback because Japan is so far behind South Korea in medical technology that Japan simply cannot handle this, or is it because Son is ethnically Korean? It’s sad that one has to even ask this question in this day and age, but racism is deep in this country.

35 ( +41 / -6 )

Heaven forbid someone actually takes action in Japan.

31 ( +34 / -3 )

This reaction has to be politically motivated. It won't be about burdening the system. It'll be about keeping the infection numbers down. I think this is very Noble of him. If the government aren't providing the tests, how will people get rested???

26 ( +29 / -3 )

A major company CEO offers a million FREE testing to help prevent the spread of a major crisis and the government says no thank you stating why it can’t work instead of thinking of a solution to make it work. Typical Japanese leadership!

27 ( +30 / -3 )

Like some have posted about tourist spots in Japan: Now is the time to go! as there are fewer tourists.

Well, people are avoiding hospitals, too so hospitals won’t be overburdened. Now is the time to offer Help! (Plus, according to this article, hospitals don’t test the nasal swab anyway. They ship it out to labs.)

Oh, no, wait. That would mean the number of people with the virus will go up. Can’t have that 100+ days from the Olympics. Overburdened! Overburdened!

14 ( +19 / -5 )

Didn't he read the memo stating that if you actually start testing for the virus, the actual number of infected would go up? Bad for Japan Inc.

Chip Star comment it's spot on. Korea can handle it just fine. Heck, better than fine! Why can't Japan?

18 ( +25 / -7 )

Japan always fears facing the truth. They want to believe that absence of evidence is evidence of absence.

19 ( +29 / -10 )

How about funding a hospital or donating to organizations?

0 ( +7 / -7 )

Remember folks, no good deed goes unpunished.

16 ( +19 / -3 )

The trouble with Son’s testing method is that it’s not accurate enough: it can produce a large number of false positive and false negative results, giving people a false sense of anxiety or reassurance. You haven’t heard of the Bayes’ theorem, have you?

-11 ( +10 / -21 )

Obviously he didn't mean to say that he wants all 1 million people tested on the same day on the same location. It would be spread out over the course of several weeks on multiple places around the country.

Japan always fears facing the truth. They want to believe that absence of evidence is evidence of absence.

Actually Japanese people, much like English people, believe that if they don't know something, then there's nothing to know. "I've never heard of it, therefore it doesn't exist", "I don't know anything about X, therefore there is nothing to know about X". Island mentality in action.

17 ( +22 / -5 )

Son is not a healthcare policy expert. If he wants help out, he needs to first consult with experts and work in conjunction with them. However, Son is the last person who listens to other peoples' views, according to numerous reports from Softbank and Vision Fund insiders.

-21 ( +4 / -25 )


You haven’t heard of the Bayes’ theorem, have you?

The more correct terms are Type I and II errors, which do not negate the necessity of testing.

5 ( +10 / -5 )

So basically this guy want to offer something to the people for free which might help to understand better the gravity of the infection spread among the population but then some media attack him?

Feels like they want to cover the gravity of the situation due to the upcoming olympics and the economy.

14 ( +17 / -3 )

Maybe he bureaucrats are angry because he wants to charge ¥1000 a month for 5G.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Cant say I'm surprised. Incredible how the propaganda is so deeply ingrained in so many people. I'm afraid because of this, we'll hear of so many cases of individuals passing away in their homes just so as not to be 'meiwaku' to hospitals. Mark my words.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

He'll probably borrow even more money to do it. Softbank is in debt up to its ears... this is a publicity ploy more than anything.

-11 ( +2 / -13 )

Japan is the only country in the world desperately trying to minimize its numbers. They even bribed WHO with USD 10 million of taxpayers/printed money to ensure Diamond Princess was classified as ‘international conveyance’. Further, when countries like Switzerland with less than 10% of Japan’s population now has more confirmed cases than Japan (despite having their first case recorded much later), you know Japan is effed up. Grow up Japan!

12 ( +18 / -6 )

If you test positive, their is standard treatment in Japan, South Korea and Chinese get treatment immediately with a anti viral drug medical cocktail, lower their chances of dying

5 ( +5 / -0 )

If Mr Son really wants to contribute right now (or seek further business opportunity?), please invest money into vaccine development for Covid-19. Or build a new hospital or a quarantine house ( serviced by Softbank AI-robots as maids?) That would definitely be a big shot and I would support his initiative.

-9 ( +3 / -12 )

People who come here to brag about how low Japan numbers are. In the middle of a pandemic emergency, while people is dying from the virus inside and outside of Japan.

That's a real shame, really.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

His proposal was met with criticism that it would overburden medical facilities and workers.

Criticism is valid. Without proper treatment and rigorous, process proactive testing is meaningless even harmful to the virus containment effort. The proposed testing kit is also questioned by experts about its reliability. "False" positive people would risk of exhausting medical resources while "false" negative people would risk of spreading the virus.

As empirically proven with higher death tolls in Italy and South Korea, active testing and accumulating confirmed cases do not guarantee life-saving.

-11 ( +3 / -14 )

The Japanese government cares more about the perception and the olympics than the lives of their people. What a pathetic government.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

Well, his heart seemed to be in the right place. Just needed to think about the infrastructure, and, especially, the pace of how new ideas get implemented here.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

a person could take a nasal swab at home and mail it to a lab which would test the specimen send back the results.

By the time you get your results back you'll already be displaying symptoms, or you'll have to send in another test just to be sure you haven't been infected in the meantime. Unless you've baracaded yourself indoors, random testing is a pointless excercise.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

It is only reported that the critical comments came from Twitter users. I find it comical (though not surprising) that several posters here blame the Japanese government again with no supporting facts.

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

For those who still support more active testing, please show me any successful case where testing helps to reduce the number of deaths. Here I am not agitating or cynical. I may be wrong missing something; if so, I might want to learn sincerely.

As far as I know with daily updated data, major countries taking active testing policy seem to have failed to save many lives. Any explanation?


On request (or public pressure?), the number of testing has largely increased in Japan. It is now covered with insurance. Yet the number of newly confirmed cases have turned out to be disproportionately small, much unlike cases in South Korea and Italy. All the same, better drop the cover-up theory.

-11 ( +3 / -14 )

Italy total deaths 897

Japan's deaths 12 + 7( crusie ship) =19( total)

That is the truth. Face the facts and stop bashing Japan.

You can pick up the numbers that fit you but actually you don't even understand them. I could equally say you that South Korea (and most other countries) are testing far more people than Japan, e.g. 200,000 people in few days for Korea. Japan has only tested so far 10,000 people. Which means that the comparisons are meaningless at this point since the countries are not doing the same thing. Can you vaguely understand that?

For example if we look at the current numbers in Japan, we have a mortality rate of around 2.4%. This is much higher than South Korea at 0.8%. But in fact the mortality rate is probably lower in Japan since the number of infected people is certainly way higher than what is currently reported. So I can also easily pull off a number that puts Japan in less favorable position if I am not careful to check what I am actually comparing as you do.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

once you are infected, the chance of survival improves on early stages of the infection period. longer a person waits, lower the chances for survival.

Maybe Mr. Son knows something already, there are 1000s of infected people but they can not get tested because of the red tape.

He offers free test for entire Japanese population and this is the reception he gets.

What if he was an American, what kind of reception would he get, if Bill Gates or Warren Buffet makes the same offer. ... I wonder. ....

4 ( +8 / -4 )

As far as I know with daily updated data, major countries taking active testing policy seem to have failed to save many lives. Any explanation?

Factually wrong. South Korea had a massive testing policy and has a mortality rate of 0.8%. Hong Kong and Singapore had also similarly higher testing.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

 Yet the number of newly confirmed cases have turned out to be disproportionately small, much unlike cases in South Korea and Italy. All the same, better drop the cover-up theory.

Your comparison is totally wrong. South Korea was testing several thousands of people a day. Japan is averaging at 900 per day.

10 ( +10 / -0 )


For those who still support more active testing, please show me any successful case where testing helps to reduce the number of deaths

The point of testing at this stage of the outbreak is to try to slow further spread. If you are known to be infected you can take appropriate precautions to limit further spread. You won't find a "case" proving the link, but if you follow the logic through you will see the link for yourself (fewer or slowed infections, fewer or slowed hospitalizations, less burden on health system, better treatment, fewer deaths).

6 ( +7 / -1 )

*As far as I know with daily updated data, major countries taking active testing policy seem to have failed to save many lives. Any explanation?*

Just because deaths continue to grow, does not mean you can conclude the actions have failed to save lives. No one is saying every life can be saved.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I should have also mentioned testing allows for better contact tracing, so we can further identify and contact people who should be taking extra measures to limit social contact. Also, wide scale testing allows authorities to see what is really going on and take action accordingly. In China and South Korea you can clearly track when things were worsening and improving. In Japan and other countries that have not been testing, we have no idea what is really going on.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

If the test is managed well and handled by health professionals then why not.

He just needs to make sure that there's still a proper diagnosis done and not just some test and go kind of situation.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Just out of curiosity, because I simply can’t find details anywhere for any country on this. Korea for example has a very high rate of testing, over 200,000, but does that number mean 200,000 people have been tested or does it also account for repeat tests of individuals?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Japan’s deaths due to CoV is likely 100x higher than Korea and Italy combined

So approximately 90,000? Ok whatever helps you sleep at night.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Very smart offer Son-san!!!

Everybody needs to be tested and isolated to prevent the further transmission of the evil virus!!! I am very surprised that people in Japan is are so incompetent and are protesting a smart offer... That is much-much more wiser than to throw the money in toilet by investing in WeWork...

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

The daily ratio of the number of confirmed to the number of tested case in S. Korea has steadily and significantly decreased since Feb. 29 by a factor of 6 from ca. 6% to 1% as on March 11, which demonstrates why extensive test in the early stage is critical in containing the virus. This kind of information is virtually absent in the government-controlled Japanese media, and I provide one here, which I have compiled in Excel based on daily briefings from KCDC web site.

The ratio of the number of confirmed to the number of tested case in S. Korea

Date Confirmed Tested Confirmed(+) Tested(+) Rate

2.28 2,022   70,940  427     12,950 3.30%

2.29 2,931   85,693  909     14,753 6.16%

 3.1 3,526   96,985  595     11,292 5.27%

 3.2 4,212   109,591  686     12,606 5.44%

 3.3 4,812   125,851  600     16,260 3.69%

 3.4 5,328   136,707  516     10,856 4.75%

 3.5 5,766   146,541  438     9,834 4.45%

 3.6 6,284   164,740  518     18,199 2.85%

 3.7 6,767   178,189  483     13,449 3.59%

 3.8 7,134   188,518  367     10,329 3.55%

 3.9 7,382   196,618  248     8,100 3.06%

3.10 7,513   210,144  131     13,526 0.97%

3.11 7,755   225,395  242     15,251 1.59%

3.12 7,869   234,998  114     9,603 1.19%

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Mr Son is correct!

I could never understand why there is such reluctance to know the condition of one’s health in Japan, knowing what we know about the virus and the spread of infections...

3 ( +6 / -3 )

A least Son tried !

5 ( +6 / -1 )


Italy 12,462

Japan 639 (5% of Italy)

I actually read Twitter concerning Mr Son's offer. The main reason for the criticism was that it would overwhelm medical institutions and negatively affect them to become dysfunctional, pointing to the situations in Italy. The suggestion to Mr Son was that he help the medical institutions, instead, to increase capacity to deal with patients/visitors.

Number of tests so far in Italy and Japan.

Italy 50,000

Japan 10,000 (20% of Italy)

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

It is easy to criticize it.

Many opinions that nothing knows here

The objection is a voice from the clinical practice Many irrelevant opinions

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Why ??? when no japanese big money is doing this same action ???.Is it because he is Korean ???. japanese big money, take the same action then talk. The world is now borderless and japanese should know racist action is never good.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

These test kits (only sample collectors)are not needed. Son knew about this since the labs are already overwhelmed by testing these kits. Maybe he wants to create a government public relationship problem. Who know his real intents.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Son is just naive and tactless. He does not grasp the novel plan of Abe in dealing with the SARS-CoV-2 strain. Because the fatality rate by the coronavirus increases exponentially with age, the plan is to make the entire Japanese archipelago an incubator by deliberately delaying tests and counter-measures, selectively decimating aged people to fundamentally change the age structure of the Japanese population, eventually to boost and rejuvenate the Japanese economy. His proposal would just mangle this plan. Understandably, Japanese are upset at his proposal.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

@SJ - Governments Globally are buckling under the strain of people living longer than the said Governments had anticipated years ago, so this older-person killer virus is a godsend to them... fixes their problems, so their inaction is somewhat understandable - costs more to try to help (which may not be effective) for an older person, than it would be to simply let them alone and see how things run.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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