According to Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry statistics, 13,385 people had been infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus in Japan as of Monday, with 351 confirmed deaths. These numbers have been rising somewhat more rapidly in recent weeks, but despite Japan recording its first case more than three months ago, in mid-January, the number of both confirmed cases and fatalities remain significantly lower than many of its peer countries.

Overseas media and specialists alike have struggled to explain the pandemic in Japan. There has even been conspiracy talk, with allegations that numbers in Japan were deliberately being kept low to keep the Tokyo Olympic Games on schedule.

Indeed, the number of PCR tests has been very small, at fewer than 10,000 a day even now. The government has said its goal is to double the number of tests, albeit to a number that would still be comparatively low. Yet while it is almost certainly the case that many infected persons have not been tested, masking the number of deaths would be an altogether more difficult task.