But now the island nation is facing a formidable resurgence, with Covid-19 cases hitting records nationwide day after day. Infections first concentrated in the capital have spread to other urban areas, while regions without cases for months have become new hotspots. And the patient demographic — originally younger people less likely to fall seriously ill — is expanding to the elderly, a concern given that Japan is home to the world’s oldest population…

While Japan declared a state of emergency to contain the first wave of the virus, it didn’t compel people to stay home or businesses to shut. That was ended in late May and officials quickly pivoted to a full reopening in an attempt to get the country’s recessionary economy back on track. By June, restaurants and bars were fully open while events like baseball and sumo-wrestling were back on — a stark contrast to other places in the region like Singapore which were re-opening only in cautious phases.

Japan’s haste may have been premature, say experts.

“This is the result of the government prioritizing economic activity by getting people to move around again over infection control,” said Yoshihito Niki, a professor of infectious diseases at Showa University’s School of Medicine.