Japan acted like the virus had gone. Now it’s spread everywhere.
Bloomberg -- Aug 02
After initial success, Japan is facing a reality check on the coronavirus.

The country garnered global attention after containing the first wave of Covid-19 with what it referred to as the “Japan Model” -- limited testing and no lockdown, nor any legal means to force businesses to close. The country’s finance minister even suggested a higher “cultural standard” helped contain the disease.

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.

Experts say that Japan’s focus on the economy may have been its undoing. As other countries in Asia, which experienced the coronavirus earlier than those in the West, wrestle with new flare ups of Covid-19, Japan now risks becoming a warning for what happens when a country moves too fast to normalize -- and doesn’t adjust its strategy when the outbreak changes.

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.

A number of factors contributed to Japan’s resurgence, according to public health experts. The state of emergency may have been lifted too early, before infections had sufficiently slowed. That also resulted in an ill-defined reopening plan -- leaving officials slow to take steps when new infection hotspots first emerged in nightclubs late in June. As cases increased, officials continued to talk down the dangers and insist they were mainly confined to nightlife spots.

News source: Bloomberg
Aug 12
The nation entered the dog days of summer Tuesday as temperatures climbed above 40 degrees Celsius in some areas, prompting authorities to issue a heatstroke warning and encourage the removal of face masks in certain situations. (Japan Times)
Aug 12
A Japanese company that operates a cargo ship that ran aground off Mauritius says nearly half of the oil the vessel is believed to have leaked in the Indian Ocean has been collected. (NHK)
Aug 11
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government confirmed 188 new cases of COVID-19 infection Tuesday, holding below the 200 mark for a second straight day, but worries over the spread of the new coronavirus remained amid a heat wave in the middle of the Bon summer holiday period. (Japan Times)
Aug 11
Ninety-one people at a high school in Shimane Prefecture have tested positive in recent days for the novel coronavirus in a cluster outbreak centered on the boys’ soccer team, according to local authorities. (Japan Times)
Aug 11
The cumulative total of COVD-19 infections in Japan surpassed 50,000 on Monday, including about 700 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined in Yokohama in February. (Japan Times)
Aug 11
Narita Airport, one of the main travel hubs for the Tokyo area, has already begun to make changes to keep travelers and workers safe in the coronavirus era. (Nikkei)
Aug 11
Japan's Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako have held talks with the top disarmament affairs official of the United Nations. (NHK)
Aug 11
The number of people using public transport in Japan is much lower than normal for the time of year due to a surge in coronavirus infections. The Bon holiday period normally sees many visiting their hometown. (NHK)
Aug 10
Mitsui O.S.K. Lines says it believes more than 1,000 tons of oil have leaked from a bulk carrier that ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean on July 25. (NHK)
Aug 10
Japan's male smoking rate fell below 30 percent for the first time in 2019, slipping to 28.8 percent, down 2.3 percentage points from the previous study in 2016, according to a health ministry survey. (Japan Today)
Aug 09
People in Japan are remembering the victims of a catastrophic event during World War Two. Exactly 75 years ago, an American warplane dropped an atomic bomb on the southwestern city of Nagasaki ... just three days after one leveled Hiroshima. (NHK)
Aug 09
Many Japanese will be taking their summer holiday over the weekend amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (CNA)
Aug 08
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government says 429 new cases of the coronavirus were confirmed as of 3 p.m. on Saturday. (NHK)
Aug 08
Ayumi Sato is trying to be careful. But she's had enough. Lockdown fatigue is setting in for Sato, a 34-year-old stock trader who lives in Tokyo, and she's not alone. (CNN)
Aug 08
NHK has learned that Japan's first supply of an experimental coronavirus vaccine being developed by British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca may be provided between next January and March. (NHK)
Aug 08
Teachers and education officials are calling for students to pay special heed to the risk of heat exhaustion this summer as schools across Japan shorten their summer holidays and hold more classes than usual to make up for closures caused by the coronavirus pandemic. (Japan Times)
Aug 07
The governor of Tokyo has called on residents to refrain from traveling to other prefectures during the summer holiday season, amid the continued rise in numbers of coronavirus infections in the capital. (NHK)
Aug 07
The Cabinet on Friday earmarked ¥1.13 trillion in reserve funds to continue measures to cushion the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. (Japan Times)
Aug 07
Researchers in Japan say the death rate of hospitalized coronavirus patients was 7.5 percent in the country. This is about one third of the COVID-19 death rates reported in Britain. (NHK)
Aug 07
Kanagawa Prefectural Police arrested an assemblyman for Tokyo’s Minato Ward on suspicion of indecent exposure in Kawasaki City on Thursday, reports NHK (Aug. 6). (tokyoreporter.com)