When the Asia Pacific Initiative compiled a report in October on the government’s COVID-19 response, there was a quote from a staff member at the Prime Minister’s Office that symbolized how Japan dealt with the pandemic.

“The makeshift response turned out to be all right.”

The quote was used in the report — which I was involved in putting together — as a conclusion not because we thought it was good that the government’s response worked out, but to raise the alarm that makeshift measures always come with risks since there is no guarantee that the government can respond similarly in the future.