Despite indifferent lockdowns and poor testing, Japan seems to be skipping the worst of the pandemic.
- 38.8 Public Health
- 100 Financial
- 100 Fact-Based
Japan has a strong overall score, driven by its generous financial response and a reliance on facts, although its public health policy is very weak.
Despite being among the most heavily indebted countries in the Index, Japan’s healthcare system is very strong, contributing to its 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 Jan 1.)
Public Health Directives
Japan had relatively weak 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 2
- Public gathering restrictions 0
- School closings 1
- Public event cancellations 1
- Testing policy 3
- Emergency healthcare investments/capita $137.02
- Travel restrictions 4
- Tests/1,000 people 35.7
- Contact tracing 2
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 1
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 Jan 1
Japan has a relatively strong score in this category, led by extremely low case and death rates, but a rising positivity rate suggests it may be missing more infected people in testing than before.
- Total deaths 3,342
- Death rate per 100K 26.4
- Total cases 239,068
- Cases per 100K 1,890
- Percent of positive tests 10.7
- Change in positivity rates +8.5
|1||May 25||State of emergency is lifted everywhere||0.24|
|2||Jun 19||Travel restrictions lifted||0.46|
|3||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||3.29|
|4||Aug 03||Tokyo requests restaurants and bar shut down early||10.12|
|5||Sep 16||Lift measures that limited hours for karaoke bars and restaurants||4.22|
|6||Oct 30||Remove entry ban from Australia, Brunei, China (including Hong Kong and Macau), New Zealand, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam||5.18|
|7||Nov 19||Tokyo requests people stay inside and reimposes request on early closing for bars and restaurants||13.79|
|8||Dec 28||Suspended entry of nonresident foreign nationals through end of January 2021 over concerns of new virus strain||25.65|
- Japan bans foreign nationals: After the new strain of coronavirus was found to be in-country, Japan banned all foreign nationals from entering through the end of January; citizens and foreign residents may enter but need to quarantine for fourteen days. Read More
- $708 billion in new coronavirus stimulus: Japan launched a new stimulus package of $708 billion to help the economy recover from COVID-19, with an emphasis on green technology and digital innovations. Read More
- Pandemic causing a nursing shortage: Japanese medical facilities set up for coronavirus patients are facing difficulties in recruiting skilled nurses, creating problems as they do not have enough people to administer PCR tests as cases surge across the country. Read More
- Tokyo's governor optimistic about Olympics: Tokyo's Governor Koike says the emergence of several COVID-19 vaccines offer hope for the Summer Olympics, which were delayed to 2021. Read More
- Record high spending to support COVID-stricken economy: Japan's Cabinet approved 21.84 trillion yen (or $210 billion) in additional funding as the country struggles to address the economic ramifications of COVID-19. In FY2020, total spending is at a record high at 175.69 trillion yen, and Japan's total debt issuance is at an all-time high at over 112.55 trillion yen, more than double what was issued in 2009 following the global financial crisis. Read More
- Suicide among women surges in Japan: According to the Japanese National Policy Agency, more people died from suicide in Japan in October than the total number of COVID-19 deaths in 2020. There was an increase in the total number of suicides from September through December 2020, compared to 2019. Read More
- COVID-19 discrimination worsens: Medical staffers and their families battling COVID-19 have faced significant discrimination from society ranging from being turned away from nursery schools and after-school clubs to death threats. Read More
Compared with Other Island Nations
Per 1M 29
Iceland has a very strong score, owing heavily to its reliance on facts as well as generous debt and income support; its large improvement since January was keyed by significant improvements in public health policy and financial support.
Per 1M 22,329
Indonesia scores relatively weakly, a big drop in the past few months, keyed by substantial weakening of travel restrictions, testing policy, and debt relief.
88.5New Zealand 2,162
Per 1M 25
New Zealand has had very strong policy, particularly with regard to its reliance on science and facts and its relatively strong financial response.
Per 1M 7
Taiwan has a relatively strong policy score, but its minimal stimulus and weak debt relief bring it down. However, the data does not accurately measure its advanced contact tracing, which may have diminished the need for more restrictions; this likely results in a score that underestimates Taiwan’s response.
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