Restrictions lifted in Tokyo, Hokkaido . . .
On Monday, Japan ended its state of emergency by lifting restrictions in the five remaining prefectures where restrictions had been in place. It did so nearly a week ahead of schedule. While the decision to end the state of emergency may have seemed rushed, it is consistent with the strict reopening conditions set by the government: stability in the health care system, a low number of new cases, and sufficient capacity to monitor new developments. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also signaled that the remaining restrictions, such as bans on mass gatherings, would be lifted gradually.
The recipe for Japan's success . . .
Japan was able to rapidly curb the spread of the virus even without enacting coercive measures or engaging in mass testing; its number of active cases dropped from 11,000 to 2,500 within a month. This turnaround is all the more impressive considering the density and age of Japan’s population. There is no single factor to explain Japan’s success. Rather, it appears to be due to a combination of factors, such as its universal healthcare system, expertise in tracking and tracing disease, and the swift response of health workers and local communities. The culture of mask-wearing, rigorous standards for social distancing, and the relative good health of the Japanese population are also important.
Another trillion-dollar relief package . . .
While celebrating its early opening, the government also announced a new relief package of C$1.3 trillion after its economy officially entered into a recession last week. Over half of these funds will be used to finance businesses, and the rest will go toward medical infrastructure, capital support, lenders, tenants, and universities. Along with a stimulus of C$1.5 trillion announced in April, the packages amount to 40 per cent of the country’s GDP in spending. Yet, that may not be enough to avoid a 20 per cent contraction of the economy in the second quarter, which would be the worst since 1955. The COVID-19 outbreak and related economic crisis have dramatically eroded Prime Minister Abe’s approval rating – and it will be important to watch his next steps as he tries to avoid a deadly second wave while managing a hamstrung economy.
- The Japan Times: Japan cautiously lifts last of virus emergency controls
- New Straits Times: Did Japan just beat Covid-19 without lockdowns, mass testing?
- Nikkei Asian Review: Japan moves forward with $1tn in new coronavirus relief