COVID-19 pandemic response in Japan: What is behind the initial flattening of the curve?

Ai Tashiro, Rajib Shaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Citations (Scopus)


The new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) emerged in December 2019 and became a global pandemic in March 2020. The unprecedented speed of SARS-CoV2 spread, the high infection rate among the aged population, and the collapse of healthcare systems in several countries have made COVID-19 the worst "modern" pandemic. Despite its proximity to China, a large aged population, and a high urban density, Japan has mitigated successfully the initial catastrophic impacts of COVID-19. This paper analyzed the key policy measures undertaken in Japan and suggests that Japan's culture, healthcare system, sanitation, immunity, and food habits, along with citizens' behavior, are the possible reasons for the successful flattening of the curve. Although additional disease peaks may occur, and a consequent increase in the number of affected individuals, a combination of policy, good governance, a healthy society, and good citizen behaviors' should be sufficient to provide enough time for the health care system to cope with them. Cluster approach, science-based decision making, and scenario planning were some of the key policy decisions taken by the government. Based on the lessons from Japan, this paper suggests the importance of an ecosystem-based lifestyle as a potential way to cope with pandemic events.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5250
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Jul 1


  • 3C approach (closed space
  • Close contact setting)
  • Cluster approach
  • Crowded space
  • Ecosystem approach
  • Expert advice
  • Scenario planning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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