Japan and COVID-19 | Discuss Japan

Infectious Disease Response — to see the forest, not just the trees: What differentiated Japan from the Western countries?

OSHITANI Hitoshi, Professor, Department of Virology, Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine

Interview: Grand challenges posed to humanity by a viral disease

OMI Shigeru, Vice Chair, Novel Coronavirus Expert Meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office, interviewed by Takase Fumihito, editor, Gaiko (Diplomacy)

Building International Cooperation in Infection Control Measures: The Role of Japanese Diplomacy as We Enter the Post-Coronavirus World

SAKABE-MORI Aki, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Tsukuba

The Notes of a Commanding Officer on Site: A Complete 15-Day Record of the Wuhan “Evacuation of Japanese Citizens”: Operating Throughout the Nights, No Time to Be Afraid NEW

Ueno Atsushi, Director-General / Assistant Minister, International Cooperation Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (Former Deputy Chief of Mission of Japanese Embassy in China)   Starting in late January, the Japanese government had a total of five chartered airplanes fly to Wuhan City in Hubei Province, China to bring home 828 Japanese citizens living in Hubei Province as well as their families, including Chinese nationals. I was responsible for the “field team” (known as Team A) that assisted in operating flights 1 through 4. This article is a record of those activities. I had been involved in operations to evacuate Japanese citizens from Beijing during the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and responding to SARS in 2003. It is not that I attract emergencies, but the reality is that these kinds of emergencies can happen anywhere at any time. This is why it is ... [Read more]

The History of Infectious Disease in Japan: Origins of the World’s Best Hygiene Awareness — The Mysterious Relationship between the Japanese and the God of Pestilence NEW

Isoda Michifumi, Associate Professor, International Research Center for Japanese Studies   The authority of the Emperor of Japan as well as the rituals at Ise Jingu shrine have their beginnings in infectious disease. Today, people in Japan have a high awareness of hygiene. This advantage has contributed much to overcoming the current wave of COVID-19. How did this amazing public health competency develop among the people of Japan? To consider this question, we need to look back at history. The story starts 1,700 years ago. Emperor Sujin (97–30 BCE) is thought to be the tenth in the imperial line after Emperor Jimmu (660–585 BCE), the first emperor who may actually have existed. This is what Inoue Mitsusada (1917–83), an authority on the ancient history of Japan at the University of Tokyo who compiled the postwar history textbooks, says in Nihon no rekishi 1: Shinwa ... [Read more]

Udo Yumiko’s My Fair Person: What Can Be Seen from the COVID-19 LINE Survey―Miyata Hiroaki, Professor, School of Medicine, Department of Health Policy and Management of Keio University

UDO Yumiko vs Prof. MIYATA Hiroaki   Udo Yumiko: Nice to meet you, Professor Miyata. This is my first time talking online with someone that I’ve never met in person before. Professor Miyata Hiroaki: I’m honored!   Udo: Professor Miyata, you proposed the “Early SNS-Based Monitoring System for the COVID-19 Outbreak in Japan: A Population-Level Observational Study,” gathered massive amounts of health data from many people, and continue with efforts that utilize the next move in COVID-19 measures in cooperation with local governments and the Cluster Response Team of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW). Miyata: Of the approximately 83 million LINE users in Japan, we received responses from about 25 million during the first survey, held from March 31 to April 1. With a response rate of about one-third, it was the second largest survey in Japanese history, excluding the national ... [Read more]

The Dividing Lines of Contemporary Japan: Political Correctness in the Social Media Era

Ito Masaaki, Professor, Seikei University   The coronavirus outbreak uncovered various forms of division and conflict in society. Not only political and economic conflicts, but cultural conflicts between people with diverse backgrounds have intensified and “flame wars” over these have been unfolding online more or less daily. Yet those conflicts were not caused by the coronavirus outbreak itself. Rather, it could be said that the coronavirus outbreak has brought to light the various conflicts that had already been formed in Japanese society and lay concealed within. For example, the comedian Okamura Takashi sparked controversy in late April with a remark allegedly discriminating against women that he made on-air during a radio show, and was forced to apologize along with the radio station. This incident caused one of the biggest storms of criticisms at the time and followed a “flame war pattern” that has been ... [Read more]

The History of Infectious Disease in Japan: The Answer Is in History — To What Degree Are Protective Hygiene Measures among the Japanese Effective?

Isoda Michifumi, Associate Professor, International Research Center for Japanese Studies   Currently, COVID-19 is spreading so quickly that the situation changes from day to day. This is precisely why we need to step back from the new situation and take a broad view of matters from the perspective of the history of civilization. I have previously consulted ancient documents on infectious diseases in Japan, but this article is based on the writings of my former teacher, the late Hayami Akira (Nihon wo osotta Supein infuruenza; translated as The Influenza Pandemic in Japan, 1918–1920) and the environmental journalist Ishi Hiroyuki (Kansensho no sekaishi [A World History of Infectious Diseases]). Ishi, who is my uncle by marriage, is also an expert on infectious diseases in Africa and elsewhere. New infectious diseases have assailed mankind any number of times. If we consult history, we may learn lessons ... [Read more]

JICA and COVID-19: Tackling Inequalities in Developing Countries

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is implementing a range of infection control support measures against COVID-19 in developing countries. We take a look at some of these measures, with a focus on the policies being implemented to counter the risks and exacerbated disadvantages that women and girls face as a result of the spread of COVID-19. Sawaji Osamu, The Japan Journal   The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is raging across the world. The number of infected rapidly started increasing globally around February 2020, and according to the calculations of the Johns Hopkins University in the United States, there were about 11 million officially confirmed cases and about 530,000 dead in the world as of July 6.     The spread of COVID-19 is dealing serious blows to countries’ societies and economies. Amid this, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is implementing infection control support ... [Read more]