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COVID-19 Pandemic Response in Japan: What Is behind the Initial Flattening of the Curve?

by Ai Tashiro 1 and Rajib Shaw 2,*
1
Graduate School of Environmental Studies, Tohoku University, 468-1 Aoba, Aramaki, Aoba-ku, Sendai, Miyagi 980-0845, Japan
2
Graduate School of Media and Governance, Faculty of Policy Management, Keio University, 5322 Endo, Fujisawa-hi, Kanagawa 252-0882, Japan
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2020, 12(13), 5250; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12135250
Received: 15 May 2020 / Revised: 25 June 2020 / Accepted: 27 June 2020 / Published: 28 June 2020
The new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) emerged in December 2019 and became a global pandemic in March 2020. The unprecedented speed of SARS-CoV2 spread, the high infection rate among the aged population, and the collapse of healthcare systems in several countries have made COVID-19 the worst “modern” pandemic. Despite its proximity to China, a large aged population, and a high urban density, Japan has mitigated successfully the initial catastrophic impacts of COVID-19. This paper analyzed the key policy measures undertaken in Japan and suggests that Japan’s culture, healthcare system, sanitation, immunity, and food habits, along with citizens’ behavior, are the possible reasons for the successful flattening of the curve. Although additional disease peaks may occur, and a consequent increase in the number of affected individuals, a combination of policy, good governance, a healthy society, and good citizen behaviors’ should be sufficient to provide enough time for the health care system to cope with them. Cluster approach, science-based decision making, and scenario planning were some of the key policy decisions taken by the government. Based on the lessons from Japan, this paper suggests the importance of an ecosystem-based lifestyle as a potential way to cope with pandemic events. View Full-Text
Keywords: cluster approach; scenario planning; expert advice; ecosystem approach; 3C approach (closed space; crowded space; close contact setting) cluster approach; scenario planning; expert advice; ecosystem approach; 3C approach (closed space; crowded space; close contact setting)
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Tashiro, A.; Shaw, R. COVID-19 Pandemic Response in Japan: What Is behind the Initial Flattening of the Curve? Sustainability 2020, 12, 5250.

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