It doesn’t compute. Why, asks Bungei Shunju magazine (February), should Japan be suffering a medical breakdown? Its medical infrastructure is among the world’s best; its doctors are well-trained and highly skilled; coronavirus rages starkly less virulently here than in many other places. And yet a system that should have held firm — Japan has more hospital beds per capita than any other country — is reeling and buckling under a “third wave.” Patients needing care are being turned away. The virus is killing around 100 people a day.

Whatever can go wrong will, goes the popular epigram known as Murphy’s Law. We know, we know, chorus survivors of 2020. The postponed Olympic Games that Tokyo was to have hosted last year are on track (so far) to proceed this summer, the government swimming against a vast current of public anxiety, with only 14%, according to a recent Kyodo News poll, supporting this symbolic return to life as we once knew it.

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