Despite indifferent lockdowns and poor testing, Japan seems to be skipping the worst of the pandemic.
- 43.4 Public Health
- 100 Financial
- 100 Fact-Based
Japan has a very strong overall score, driven by its generous financial response and a reliance on facts, although its public health policy is slightly below the median.
Despite being heavily indebted, Japan’s healthcare system is very strong resulting in a relatively strong score.
- Debt/GDP ratio 237.1%
- GDP/capita $46,827
- Gini coefficient (out of 100) 32.9
- Infant mortality rate (out of 1,000 live births) 2
- Healthcare access score (out of 100) 89
- Hospital beds/1,000 People 97.1
Government ResponseSelect a data point for more information
(Data points represent policy level as of Oct 1.)
Public Health Directives
Japan scored near the median on public health policy, with strong scores on school closings and travel restrictions countered by a weak stay-at-home order and limited testing.
- Stay at home order 1
- Public gathering restrictions 2
- School closings 1
- Public event cancellations 1
- Testing policy 2
- Emergency healthcare investments/capita $136.78
- Travel restrictions 3
- Tests/1,000 people 19.2
- Contact tracing 1
Japan has a very strong score on its financial response, with the highest stimulus and debt relief in the Index, although its income support is relatively weak.
- Financial stimulus as share of GDP 42.2%
- Income support 1
- Debt forebearance 2
Japan’s government is very strong in this category as it has not engaged in misinformation or limited press freedom in response to COVID-19.
- Reliance on science/fact based information 0
- Press freedom 0
COVID-19 Status as of Oct 1
Japan has one of the strongest scores in this category, led by case and death rates that are the lowest in the Index, and a low positivity rate, although its low public health policy score and median change in positivity rate mean that these numbers could rise rapidly if conditions change.
- Total deaths 1,564
- Death rate per 100K 12.4
- Total cases 83,010
- Cases per 100K 656
- Percent of positive tests 2.2
- Change in positivity rates -1.4
|1||May 25||State of emergency is lifted everywhere||0.31|
|2||Jul 15||Rise in cases leads to requests to limit traveling outside Tokyo, and going to karaoke clubs or bars, until the end of August||2.64|
|3||Sep 16||Lift measures that limited hours for karaoke bars and restaurants||4.20|
- Borders reopen: The government will gradually roll back travel restrictions, allowing foreigners with resident status, foreign students, medical staff, and cultural-activities participants in. Read More
- COVID-19 discrimination worsens: Medical staffers and their families battling COVID have faced significant discrimination from society ranging from being turned away from nursery schools and after-school clubs to death threats. Read More
- Olympics may be helping to motivate massive vaccine-dosage purchases: Japan lines up half a billion doses of potential COVID-19 vaccines in preparation for the Olympics next year Read More
- Better preparedness helps stave off crisis for the elderly: Despite having the oldest population in the world, with many in nursing homes, Japan has avoided a coronavirus disaster thus far due to preparedness, a culture that prioritizes elderly care, and overall less obesity and diabetes in the population. Read More
- Social messaging, not strict enforcement, sees success: Japan's post-WWII constitution constrains the ability of the government to impose laws on the population unilaterally, with the result that adherence to lockdown and social distancing policies is entirely voluntary. Despite this, authorities in Tokyo reported a 70-80 percent reduction in social interaction through social messaging and early evening closure of restaurants. Read More
- Generous support for workers and businesses: In early April the government announced a $1.1 trillion emergency economic package, three quarters of which was directed to employment and business support, and much of the rest working to strengthen the healthcare system. Read More
- Young people experience second wave: Despite Japan's early success, its re-opening has led to an increase in cases linked to clubs and nightlife. An estimated 70 percent of Japan's new diagnoses in June were among people in their 20s and 30s. Read More
Compared with Other Island Nations
Per 1M 10
Iceland scores near the median, having strong public communications and testing but moderate interventions otherwise.
Per 1M 10,740
Indonesia performs relatively strongly in the Index, with consistent scores across all categories.
100New Zealand 1,480
Per 1M 25
New Zealand has had very strong policy, particularly its reliance on science and facts, and its very strong financial response.
Per 1M 7
Taiwan has a relatively strong overall policy score, but does not score as highly as expected due to a lack of lockdown, minimal stimulus, and weak support for debt relief. Given data limitations, the score likely underestimates Taiwan’s very strong contact-tracing policy, which is so advanced that it may have diminished the need for other policy responses.
Further Reading From Foreign Policy
Be the source of actionable insight.
Select one of the subscription options below to read the full Covid-19 Global Response Index. Unlock even more global intelligence with a subscription to FP Insider.
Already an FP Insider? Log In
Looking for group access? Contact us directly
Statistics and government response factors available on each country profile include:
- Debt to GDP ratio
- Infant mortality rates
- Hospital beds per 1,000 people
- Gini coefficients measuring inequality
- Health access and quality
COVID-19 Public Health Directives:
- Stay-at home orders
- School-closing policy
- Public-gathering restrictions
- Cancellation of public events
- Testing policy and rates per 1,000 people
- Emergency healthcare spending per capita
- Travel restrictions
- Contact tracing
COVID-19 Financial Response:
- Stimulus package as a share of GDP
- Income support
- Instances of misinformation by leadership
- Limitations on press freedom, censorship
Current/Historic In-Country COVID-19 Status:
- Death rates per 1 million
- Case rates per 1 million