COVID-19 & Tokyo 2020

June 2, 2021

The state of emergency in Tokyo has been extended until June 20. Excluding a short period between March 22 and April 24, Tokyo has been under a state of emergency since the beginning of the year. People’s frustration is growing because of the slow progress made in overcoming COVID-19.


The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed several problems in Japan:


1.   The vaccination rollout has been slow because Japan has not developed its own vaccine and is reliant on imported vaccines. 

Mass vaccination sites opened on May 24 to accelerate its inoculation program.


2.   The vaccine approval process has delayed domestic rollout. Even if the vaccine were proved to be effective, medical and administrative procedures for clinical investigation have to be followed before the vaccine can be used domestically.


3.   Due to privacy concerns, Japan has not introduced a personal information management system. Therefore, the Japanese government has no system for tracking individuals’ movements and identifying infected individuals and sources of infection.


4.   Japan’s medical system is believed to be world class; however, it is not optimized for pandemic mitigation. Although Japan has many clinics, few are equipped for the task at hand. 

Distribution channels are also inadequate. The serum should be injected within a fixed time span after defrosting; this process requires a high degree of coordination and management. Abrupt cancelation of vaccine appointments can disrupt vaccine distribution plans, occasionally resulting in vaccines being discarded.


5.   Japan will host the Olympic Games, but the national government and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government have not made preparations for dealing with newly infected individuals. The detailed plans have not been disclosed to public. The number of local spectators to be allowed is yet to be announced. Organizers are expected to decide in June.


With the Olympic Games less than two months away, the government and organizing committee are discussing the possibility of allowing spectators at the Games. The final decision regarding local spectators will be made in late June.


Many people are opposed to holding the Olympic Games during a pandemic. However, the International Olympic Committee and the Japanese  government insist on going ahead with the Games as scheduled.

We simply hope that the Games are conducted smoothly and safely and that Japan proves its capabilities by executing this difficult task.

 Posted on June 2, 2021