Conspiracy would suggest that there is a widespread cover up, that people are dying in their homes, untested and untreated, or being given false death records in hospital. It is, however, hard to believe that a nation’s worth of doctors would be, or could be, silent if the number of deaths we are seeing in Italy were occurring here. While an authoritarian government might dream of being able to control its population to that extent, the reality is unattainable; doctors would speak out to prevent deaths — we saw them speaking out in China, we’d see it here.
It is equally hard to get onboard the second train of thought: that Japan is simply fortunate. That the disease here just hasn’t spread in the way it has elsewhere due to a number of pre-existing conditions: relatively less social intimacy (bowing vs. shaking hands), an inclination to wear masks when sick that has existed since long before this coronavirus, already high rates of isolation amongst the elderly, and what little voluntary self-isolation and social distancing there is has meant that Japan is flattening its curve without a truly active attempt to.
Then there is the third option, that Japan’s “just enough” efforts, built upon those pre-existing conditions have simply worked. That targeted testing where needed has contained the disease where it has emerged; that early closure of mass events did do enough to prevent widespread contact of the infected with the healthy; and that decentralized efforts stemming from individuals and corporations (zero contact pizzas, everyone) have halted its spread without heavy-handed government directive. But “just enough” feels like an awfully precarious position to be in and without the coordinated efforts that have forced other populations to limit the spread of the virus, you have to ask: How long will the situation last?