Japan's Covid outcomes are still a mystery
Last year, I wrote a piece asking why there have been so few Covid deaths in Japan. I now want to return to that question. My previous article began by noting that excess mortality was uniformly low in the advanced East Asian economies – Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan. And while it was possible to explain low excess mortality in the four “Asian Tigers” with reference to a successful containment strategy, Japan had made no real attempt to contain the virus. Quoting myself:
Japan’s low death rate is particularly surprising. While the “Asian Tigers” used a combination of strict border controls, rigorous contacting tracing and selective economic restrictions to achieve containment, Japan took practically no measures – aside from border screening – until quite recently. (And Japan’s border screening is hardly relevant, since the country has had sustained community transmission.) Compared to Europe, where most countries were under lockdown for months, Japan did almost nothing.