4 Key reasons why no news of coronavirus explosion in Japan

Japan, which ranks tenth in terms of the world’s best healthcare systems and Italy, which ranks second, are enduring havoc due to the coronavirus pandemic — but in a dissimilar way. Why does Japan look relatively a safer place in comparison to other developed nations in crisis?

Let’s take a look at 4 major reasons.

Source: The Telegraph

People have been a bit intrigued about Japan not testing enough and hence its numbers being fudged to make Tokyo Olympics a success anyhow. Also, the population of Japan is almost twice that of Italy then why so fewer cases. What’s the deal with Japan? Fudged numbers, not testing enough, ringing late alarm bells, or the Tokyo Olympics?

None of the above-questioned reasons seem correct. Now we also have an update that the Olympics will be postponed to 2021 since many nations didn’t agree to participate.

Japan, in fact, made its toughest move to close the borders today when all the other countries had stringent border controls in place already. (https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/03/24/national/japan-avoid-travel-18-european-countries/#.XnzU5YgzbIU)

Source: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/
Source: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

Looking at the figures above we see a paradox when it comes to the situation in the two countries with almost similar demographics — average life expectancy, median age, and even the cigarette consumption per capita per year (1493.27 — Italy, and 1583.16 — Japan).

We should also consider the fact that Japan was one of the first countries in the world hit by the pandemic given its close proximity to China.

Remember the cruise ship fiasco: The Diamond Princess

Also, China, South Korea, and Taiwan contribute the highest number of overseas tourists visiting Japan.

One of the major critiques is that Japan is not testing enough. While that is true, the number of people turning up in hospitals claiming to be sick are also few. Had the pandemic created such worse an impact, the authorities would have noticed and taken certain required actions.

Though I still have my reservations and I do think Japan should test more.

Source: https://ourworldindata.org/covid-testing

Even if we include the argument that Japan has not tested enough and also that it could have fudged numbers, we still need to answer the looming question.

Why fewer cases in Japan ?

After having worked for about five years with the Japanese and also having spent close to a year living in Japan, I think I can cite some observations and reasons.

This statement, along with the reasons listed below, may be able to justify the above question:-

*The Culture*

Let me elucidate as to how it may have helped Japan prevent the explosion:-

The Facemask Culture — News related to the crisis of face masks and sanitizers has been quite a common affair lately. In Japan, you can, even on a normal day, see close to 3–4/10 people wearing surgical masks.

Why? It’s a part of their culture that inhibits not only the spread of Coronvirus but any influenza for that matter. The people are very much determined not to spread any communicable disease to bypassers.

Hygiene and Sanitation — I have seen the Japanese practice utmost hygiene and sanitation. Face wipes, sanitizers, mineral water bottles, etc. are a common sight in anyone’s bag even in their own country. Even in theme parks like Disneyland most of the Japanese are hesitant to drink tap water.

Respecting each other’s social space — Social Distancing is the buzzword right now but the Japanese people prefer to stay away and don’t try to invade your personal space unless it’s due to the circumstance — places like Takeshita Street or the Shibuya crossing or say the jam-packed metro.

Source: Flikr

When the daily metro is not full you can see many travelers maintained a good social distance amongst themselves.

Discipline — This has got to be it. Having worked in a Japanese Auto firm gave me enough exposure to how determined the people are in following the processes and respecting rules.

If we dig a little deeper we will find that this is reflective of the society. You all must be aware of how the Japanese would stand in queues and maintain appropriate distance while waiting for their next ride.

Hence if the Government announces that its people need to follow certain guidelines for the betterment of the society then it’s highly likely that the citizens will follow suit. Therefore if you expect any country to follow WHO guidelines then you know which country will be exemplary.

I think we can learn a lot from this and in my opinion nations like the Singapore and Hong Kong have done well enough to curb the foreseeable explosion.

Please comment down below with your opinions, and in case of any feedback reach out to me on LinkedIn. Let’s grow our knowledge together.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/shubhamtripathi-iimb/ or

Product Management AI/ML @ Target | Publicis Sapient | MBA, IIM Bangalore | Ex — Honda Motors