• The Financial District


The first death from COVID-19 in Japan was confirmed in February after the new coronavirus started to spread in China, but several experts admit that they did not even initially imagine that the death toll in Japan would increase. Contrary to the initial optimistic views, however, the number of deaths surged beginning late March as infections spread, Mainichi Shimbun reported late on July 21, 2020.

At the same time, compared to the United States and countries in Europe, the number of COVID-19 deaths has been smaller in Japan, even though it now has over 1,000 fatalities. According to Our World in Data published by researchers from the University of Oxford and other institutions, the number of deaths per million people as of July 19 was 666.9 in Britain and 423.32 in the US. In Japan, meanwhile, the figure was 7.79.

The Japanese government's expert panel suggested that countermeasures against cluster infections had been effective in a report released in May. Tokyo Medical University's professor Atsuo Hamada, who is knowledgeable about infectious diseases, points out differences in medical systems in each country.

"There is no universal health care in the U.S. and those who are not insured hesitate to see a doctor. Furthermore, unlike Italy and other countries where medical spending financed by tax revenue has been cut, Japan's public medical insurance system is supported by businesses and insurance users, allowing for stable financial resources. As the medical system in Japan is well-supported, we were able to deal with the increasing number of cases," Hamada said. Meanwhile, Japan's death toll per million is higher than seen in its neighbors such as Taiwan (0.29 per million) and South Korea (5.75 per million). Professor Kazuhiro Tateda at Toho University, who also serves as director of the Japanese Association for Infectious Diseases, said, "Taiwan and South Korea had called for people to remain indoors from the early stages and that probably was effective."

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