The COVID-19 Situation in Japan: Some Positive Steps

  • November 4, 2020

Please refer to this more recent blog post on CHI 2021 which is now an online virtual conference. The following post was written on Nov 4th 2020 prior to the final decision to move CHI 2021 from a hybrid conference to a fully online virtual conference. 



The risk of the increase of infected cases in Japan was pointed from the beginning of the pandemic. The first outbreak happened already in January 2020. However, contrary to expectation, the actual number of infected cases was lower and stayed relatively low compared to other countries. Here, we compare daily cases in member countries of the Group of Seven major economies. Japan is the lowest of them.


Daily cases of G7 countries per million people


First response

In March 2020, The government and the CoronaVirus Expert meeting advised the public to limit high-risk situations (called the Three Cs: closed spaces, crowded places, and close-contact settings) as well as voluntarily restricting travel between different regions. 

From April to May, Tokyo and other metropolitan areas (Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba, Osaka, Hyogo, and Fukuoka) also started lockdowns due to a state of emergency announced by the prime minister. The measures were by far less restrictive than in other areas in the world.


The government reinforced the medical service system, implemented several support measures for the economy, and instated a medical task-force, the Novel Coronavirus Expert Meeting, advising them on measures. The measures included an early response to clusters, early patient diagnosis, and enhancement of intensive care as well as most critically citizen behavior modification measures.



Despite an aging population, the death toll per capita from COVID-19 is lower than the world's average. The reasons for this situation are not clear so far. Yet, experts and researchers have identified a couple of supporting factors. Some of them will be explained in the following: the government response, novel etiquettes (see "Why does Japan have to few cases of COVID-19?" and "Uncovering Japan's coronavirus X-factor matters to the world").


It seems that especially the cluster response and the citizen's behavior modifications are responsible for relatively low numbers of infected cases. As the Japanese government cannot enact any compulsory measures and enforce them by fines, etc., Japanese citizens and residents comply on a voluntary basis.


In Japan, people are also less uncomfortable wearing masks differently from some parts of the world. (For more information about mask etiquette, please see "Why do Japanese people wear masks? A look behind a cultural quirk".) In fact, as pointed out in "Masks helped keep Japan's COVID-19 death toll low, says expert panel", the death toll in Japan is kept low.

Current situation

The current status is relatively relaxed, even though people are still on high alert. The Japanese government started to allow larger meetings and even sports and similar events with a 50% limit on the maximum crowd size at venues with a capacity of over 10,000 people. Yokohama Stadium, Tokyo Dome, and similar venues are to be tested for Covid Infection risks.



PACIFICO's measures

Here are two pieces of information regarding COVID-19 measures from PACIFICO, the conference venue of CHI 2021.



Information Sources

We list some information sources regarding COVID-19 in Japan.


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