Unlike China’s draconian isolation measures, the mass quarantine in much of Europe and big U.S. cities ordering people to shelter in place, Japan has imposed no lockdown. While there have been disruptions caused by school closures, life continues as normal for much of the population. Tokyo rush hour trains are still packed and restaurants remain open.
The looming question is whether Japan has dodged a bullet or is about to be hit. The government contends it has been aggressive in identifying clusters and containing the spread, which makes its overall and per capita number for infections among the lowest among developed economies. Critics argue Japan has been lax in testing, perhaps looking to keep the infection numbers low as it’s set to host the Olympics in Tokyo in July…
Kenji Shibuya, a professor at King’s College London and a former chief of health policy at the World Health Organization, sees two possibilities: that Japan has contained the spread by focusing on outbreak clusters, or that there are outbreaks yet to be found.
“Both are reasonable, but my guess is that Japan is about to see the explosion and will inevitably shift from containment to delay-the-peak phase very soon,” he said. “The number of tests is increasing, but not enough.”