Why haven’t more people in Japan died from Covid-19? It is a macabre question that has spawned dozens of theories, from Japanese manners to claims that the Japanese have superior immunity.
If you were to listen to Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, it is down to the “superior quality” of Japanese people. In a now notorious comment, Mr Aso said he had been asked by leaders of other countries to explain Japan’s success.
“I told these people: ‘Between your country and our country, mindo (the level of people) is different.’ And that made them speechless and quiet.”
Literally translated, mindo means “people’s level”, although some have translated it as meaning “cultural level”.
It is a concept dating back to Japan’s imperial era and denotes a sense of racial superiority and cultural chauvinism. Mr Aso has been roundly condemned for using it.
But there is no doubt that many Japanese, and some scientists, think there is something about Japan that is different – a so called “Factor X” that is protecting the population from Covid-19.
It is possibly relevant that some aspects of Japanese mores – few hugs and kisses on greeting – have in-built social distancing, but nobody thinks that is the answer.
I – Word Understanding
Macabre – awful / terrible
Spawned – resulted / generated
Chauvinism – an attitude of superiority
Condemned – criticized (strongly)
Mores – moral attitudes / characteristics of a community
II – Have Your Say
Did Japan got smart? or got lucky? Despite Japan having the highest number of elderly per capita and no lockdown, there is growing scientific evidence that Japan has contained the spread of Covid-19 so far. Let’s discuss the following theories related to this:
1, Superior quality of Japanese people (mindo)
2, Japan had Covid before, making most Japanese immune
3, Japanese people have not stopped wearing mask since the 1912 flu pandemic
4, Japan’s track and trace system has been established since 1950 (tuberculosis battle)
5, Nationwide campaign to avoid the “Three C’s”: enclosed spaces, crowded places & closed contact settings
6, Declaring the State of Emergency – good timing; the government asked, people listened
7, Japan has the lowest rate of coronary heart disease and obesity among developed countries