• JIJI, Kyodo, STAFF REPORT

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New research published Wednesday has shown that Tottori, the country’s most sparsely populated prefecture, has produced the most robust response to the coronavirus pandemic among all of Japan’s 47 prefectures.

The statistical analysis by Yutaka Hamaoka, a professor at Keio University, compared the country’s prefectures according to four criteria: response measures, health impact, effects on the economy and cooperation from the public.

The criteria were evaluated on 10 indicators such as the number of coronavirus tests per positive result and the year-on-year change in the occupancy rate at hotels and lodging facilities.

The findings were published in the May issue of Iwanami Shoten’s Kagaku science magazine.

Tottori was crowned the prefecture with the best response, followed by neighboring Shimane Prefecture, Saga and Oita prefectures, and Toyama Prefecture.

Osaka Prefecture ranked at the bottom of the list, while Tokyo, Kyoto, Aichi and Kanagawa prefectures rounded out the bottom five.

Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto prefectures are all currently under the country’s third coronavirus state of emergency, as cases there have surged amid a fourth wave of the deadly virus. Tokyo is Japan’s most populous prefecture, while Osaka has the third-largest population.

On Tuesday, Tokyo confirmed 828 infections, while Osaka Prefecture reported 1,230 new cases and Kyoto Prefecture saw 112 new infections.

Tottori, meanwhile, reported just one new case.

Tottori managed to control the spread of the virus by conducting mass testing to detect cases at early stages of outbreaks. The research suggested that the prefecture’s economy has also been on the rebound since the first wave of infections last spring.

Shimane was lauded for not recording any deaths linked to the virus.

Meanwhile, Osaka is seen as having allowed the virus to spread due to a lack of testing, casting a shadow over its economy.

“There is a need to rebuild measures across the board,” the research paper said.

The report pointed out that while the number of people at major train stations in Tokyo has been curbed largely due to the efforts of citizens there, “the Tokyo Metropolitan Government is not doing what it should be doing” and more direction is needed.

“We need to go back to the basics of infectious disease response, of taking early measures and giving early treatment,” Hamaoka said.

On Friday, the Tottori Prefectural Government called on residents of the prefecture to avoid visits to those under a state of emergency or pre-emergency measures.

The prefectural government also said two celebrities who were expected to participate in a torch relay in the prefecture in May canceled in response to the prefecture’s request to do so, to avoid crowds forming.

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