Daniel Halliday
Mar 5 · Last update 2 mo. ago.

Was Abe right to close schools in Japan?

On 27th February 2020 Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that all schools in the country should close for March in an effort to contain the coronavirus. This marked a sudden step up of the country’s strategy against the outbreak, but caused mixed reactions however, as the short notice caused panic, confusion and left some scrambling to find childcare. This move comes a month after countries such as Vietnam closed all schools and universities and have seemingly sidestepped further cases of the virus. Was the Japanese government right to close schools in Japan? Did this cause unnecessary panic or were they too slow to react? usnews.com/news/world/articles/2020-02-27/japan-pm-abe-says-to-ask-all-schools-to-close-for-most-of-march rfa.org/english/news/vietnam/vietnam-cambodia-school-tourism-02032020162327.html
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Yes, but this is not far enough
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This exposed the desperate need for better childcare in Japan
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Yes – Contain the virus
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No – an ill thought out provision
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Yes, but this is not far enough

Realistically Japan should be taking greater precautions to protect the elderly as the country has such a massive aging population. Japan has the largest elderly population in the world, comparing to countries with similar demographics such as Italy, where the virus has killed more people that anywhere else in the world, the Japanese government’s reaction seems to ignore the gravity of the risk posed by the coronavirus pandemic. Despite Japan only having a 2% greater proportion of citizens over 65 than Italy, due to the country’s much larger population, that 2% constitutes many millions more of the most vulnerable people to this pandemic, and is therefore a much more vulnerable country. The Japanese government need to put lives ahead of economic or Olympic concerns and need to go further with testing, enforcing companies to allow employees to work from home, end public meetings and have stricter public gathering policies.

weforum.org/agenda/2019/09/elderly-oldest-population-world-japan en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_median_age donga.com/jp/article/all/20200226/1989593/1

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Daniel Halliday
Mar 24
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This exposed the desperate need for better childcare in Japan

Problems surrounding the closing of schools in response to the coronavirus perfectly highlighted the need for reforms in Japan surrounding childcare and parental expectations. While it is widely recognised as a necessary measure, with 69% of people viewing school closures as unavoidable, the decision did also cause uproar from some working parents who were left struggling amidst Japan’s extremely limited day care industry. Japan’s hostile working environment towards expectant mothers continues despite Shinzo Abe’s push for more women in the workplace, his so-called ‘womenomics’ policy, and this has led to a drastic national shortage in day care workers. Despite all this Abe did encourage schools and local authorities to “make their decisions flexibly” [1], giving some schools the opportunity to offer basic childcare to the worst effected families. However more need to be done to take the pressure off of parents in general, as this may need to be a much longer precautionary measure than first thought.

www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20200309/k10012321501000.html [1] reuters.com/article/us-china-health-japan-idUSKCN20M0AM nytimes.com/2019/06/09/world/asia/japan-day-care.html

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Daniel Halliday
Mar 23
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Yes – Contain the virus

When dealing with a virus outbreak like the 2019 novel coronavirus, which has already proven to be more contagions than SARS and killed more than SARS, MERS and Ebola combined, it is important to act pre-emptively and decisively – making school closures a complete necessity. Although some studies on the 2009 flu pandemic showed school closures to have mixed results, many concluded from the results that actually schools needed to be closed for longer in order to contain pandemics. UNESCO have already stated publicly that school closures due to the coronavirus are inevitable, and that school closures may effect up to 290 millions students worldwide. Schools are now planning closures around the world, and in this way Abe is not alone and not wrong in closing Japanese schools in an effort to contain the virus.

fox5atlanta.com/news/coronavirus-more-contagious-than-sars-or-mers-can-live-on-surfaces-for-up-to-9-days-studies-say livescience.com/should-schools-close-for-coronavirus.html washingtonpost.com/education/2020/03/04/school-closures-because-coronavirus-affect-290-million-students-around-world-unesco-says tucson.com/laestrella/vida_y_familia/tucson-schools-creating-contingency-closure-plans-for-possible-coronavirus-outbreak/article_1641cb50-5e6f-11ea-b55b-ebd6595b3bc8.html

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Daniel Halliday
Mar 9
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No – an ill thought out provision

This sudden announcement by the Japanese government helped cause a wide-spread state of panic, with many parents on complaining of their struggling to arrange childcare, one parent tweeting: “it’s important to protect children, but what happens if they have working parents?” [1] Closing schools in this way caused unnecessary panic and might actually facilitate the spread, as ultimately who are parents going to find for childcare, retired grandparents, the most susceptible group to the virus… Arguably, a better procedure would be to keep children in school and educate them, simply on washing their hands properly and how viruses spread, but possibly even use the opportunity to educate about the human immune system and how nutrition and a healthy lifestyle can make you more immune-resistant. Past viral outbreaks have show us that people that have died have often been immune-compromised and have succumbed to a secondary bacterial infection, with bacteria piggybacking on a viral infection being what causes virus fatalities. From the panic being generated it seems more education is needed, not less.

[1] reuters.com/article/us-china-health-japan-idUSKCN20L0BI americanthinker.com/articles/2020/01/a_note_on_coronavirus_dont_panic.html

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Daniel Halliday
Mar 6
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