• Kyodo

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Japan placed 19th out of 189 countries and regions in the 2020 human development index ranking, which takes into account per capita income, education levels and life expectancy, the U.N. Development Program said in a report released Tuesday.

Norway retained the top spot it secured in the previous year, while Ireland and Switzerland ranked second. Many of the leading spots were occupied by European countries.

The human development index is used to measure a country’s development that cannot be assessed by economic growth alone. Its calculations are based on three criteria — a long and healthy life, knowledge and a decent standard of living, according to the UNDP.

Hong Kong was fourth with a long life expectancy and high per capita income. Japan moved up one spot from last year and tied with Israel and Liechtenstein.

Among other countries, the United States ranked 17th, while Russia was 52nd. In Asia, Singapore was 11th, South Korea 23rd and China 85th.

In the report, the UNDP touched on the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic, saying it had proved to be a “shock” that affected the “main components of human development with unprecedented magnitude.”

The organization estimated that the index for the entire world will show a decline for the first time since comparable data became available in 1990.

On climate change, the report also pointed out that if global warming continues without mitigation, the number of days each year with extreme temperatures below zero and above 35 C is expected to increase by 100 in low human development countries by 2100.

With mitigation consistent with the 2015 Paris Agreement goals, the number of days a year with extreme temperatures in low human development countries would increase by 49, the report added.

The latest human development index ranking did not include six countries, including North Korea and Somalia, due to a lack of information.

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