Although Japanese authorities were relatively late in their insistence on social distancing and self-isolation, the official results with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic have been encouraging — low numbers recently in terms of infections and, particularly, deaths. But there is almost no media consensus as to why Japan has been spared the kind of suffering that so many other countries are experiencing.

One constant in the coverage is the acute danger of infection within households owing to daily close contact among family members, not to mention the country’s typically cramped living conditions. The low infection rate in Japan can be credited to the seriousness with which the populace has followed social distancing guidelines, which would explain the high percentage of those infected who got the virus from a loved one.

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