Japan reopens for business today...while re-locking down Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo for COVID, extending the current lockdown set to expire on May 11, now kicked back to end of May.
2020 2021 20?? here we come!
Just some quick points on where Japan stands with vaccinations. And let me remind you (because a reminder will be sorely needed after you’ve read this)- Japan is a wealthy, developed, globally integrated, democratic, G7 country with enough medical staff and infrastructure in place to provide high quality universal healthcare to a (relative to it’s western democratic allies) apolitically non-partisan, non-populist, non-faith based, pre-COVID mask wearing culture of the world‘s oldest (and thereby most demographically at-risk) population. Just a reminder.
According to Oxford Univ, at end of April, the number of vaccinations per 100 people stood as follows:
United Arab Emirates: 106
United Kingdom: 71
Cool. Now here’s a moving chart of the share of people who have received at least one vaccine (% of population) from Our World In Data:
If Japan exerted some effort, competency and common sense prioritization, maybe it will one day get as good as global leaders in fighting pandemics and protecting its citizens like India and Brazil. Maybe one day.
What the hell is wrong with Japan you say? Why I’m glad you asked.
Japan has a history of problems with medication. Meaning, there is a history of using the prior sentence as an excuse / explanation for its inexplicable rejection of medicine. Japan used to inoculate its population regularly, more so than any nation- until some vaccines had adverse side effects and revisions were made to the Immunization Act of 1994 - and supposedly since then, a stigma against vaccines was born. There is a stigma against drugs does exist (weed is SUPER illegal, and for good reason- it’s a gateway to Doritos). This culture of ”prescription medication as an absolute last resort” apparently stems back to post WWII culture where injured returning soldiers of Imperial Japan felt guilt that they had not died, and were “happy” to suffer in physical pain. The upside is there is pretty much a zero opiate addiction issue. Instead, Japan has a different addiction: red tape bureaucracy. That comes first, always- even in a global disease Armageddon with a medical solution, precious red tape > citizens.
Japan still has private sector pharma giants like 4502 Takeda Pharma & 4503 Astellas Pharma- what the hell they do, I seriously don’t know. Last I checked, Takeda was selling off assets to Blackstone and getting the US FDA to grant priority review for metastatic non-small cell lung cancer treatment. I don’t know the pharma space from the bottom of my foot, but you know what else might be a slightly more pressing “lung problem?” COVID-19 - they should look it up.
Japan still hasn’t tested wide-scale for COVID from back when that was all the craze. As of now, it has approved Pfizer’s vaccine, Moderna “expected” to be green lit in late May. (IF you’re going to do it anyway, do it NOW so that you don’t have to do 10x more later. You fucking morons.) To date, about 2 million medical workers and under a million elderly have received a shot, among the 135 million population. Soon, there will be a “mass“ vaccination effort in the financial district of Tokyo (right next to Nomura building) for the elderly. Appointment only, of course, for how could this be done without its precious precious Japanese red tape? Americans, say what you will about the vaccine hesitant- at least you can get your shot and a hot dog at Yankee Stadium if you wish- this is a whole different breed of government and institutional stupidity.
Here is the most egregious part- Japan is allegedly hosting the “2020” Olympics as of this writing. The government is calling for 500 swamped medical workers to join the Olympic effort in vaccinating and testing the >10,000 athletes that will supposedly be coming in to compete (this is after Japan‘s other addiction- outright unabashed nationalism, kicked into immediate policy gear as non Japanese were blocked from entering or subject to strict quarantine- you know, because COVID knows what color passport you hold when coming in from abroad). So Japan is electing to protect non Japanese foreigners from literally every country in the world? If this is in the name of protecting it’s population, then doing so is full on acknowledgement that vaccines work (or at least are good enough to work to the extent that post Olympics, every kind of variant that came in will not follow the athletes back home).
If you’re going to let a ex-China covid case #1 cruise ship full of infected just sit in Yokohama Bay in early ‘20, then you know it’s highly infectious and therefore get on testing ASAP- regardless of what color their passport is. If you’re going to vaccinate Olympic foreign athletes, vaccinate your own citizens before, during and after. If you’re going to even host the Olympics as a chance to show the world an example of how effective government can proudly host the world’s most coveted global event in the wake of an unprecedented global pandemic, then do it fucking NOW. OR, forever be remembered as the country that COULD have but consciously chose to NOT govern effectively - there is no other country in the world (not) doing what Japan can / won’t do.
And if you’re inexplicably dragging your feet when protecting your citizens throughout the year of COVID and even putting the much economically needed Olympics at risk, then just come out and say what you’re really doing - you’re purposely trying to “clean out“ the gov debt burden heavy, deflationary, top-end of the population demographic. Whatever happened to “just die already“ ? (a real quote from a pre Abenomics gov official regarding Japan debt & demographic crisis). That’s what consensus believes / knows anyway- the elderly will respect the honesty, and BOJ won’t have to print yen for every new JGB printed.
"If infections spread to the rest of the world amid anti-Asian sentiment, it will become an international problem. It is necessary to confirm negative results when leaving Japan. However, this work will also put pressure on medical resources."
-Dr. Atsuo Hamada, Professor of Travel Medicine at Tokyo Medical University, May 6 2021
Modern Japan- history’s greatest self-shooter of its own foot. Get your shit together Japan. The world and your own county is depending on you to not be Japanese for once.
See my rant on “short Japan / long Israel” with @Ash Bennington below ↓