Japan’s response to the coronavirus is a slow-motion train wreck – Washington Post

Feb. 22, 2020
Jeff Kingston is a professor at Temple University Japan and author of “Japan.”
Japan’s bureaucrats are great at some things. Crisis management doesn’t seem to be one of them.
As it attempts to manage the fallout of the covid-19 coronavirus — which has taken the lives of more than 2,000 people worldwide, including a Japanese man and woman on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship — Japan is reliving the bureaucratic red-tape nightmares that hampered emergency efforts in Kobe in 1995 and Fukushima in 2011.

After a major quake devastated Kobe in 1995, volunteers who came to offer help to the displaced were turned away by officials, as were Swiss search-and-rescue dogs because authorities refused to relax quarantine regulations. Even yakuza opened soup kitchens for the displaced before the government acted.

And during the Fukushima nuclear crisis in 2011, bureaucratic inertia and reluctance to acknowledge the scale of the problem impeded the emergency response to the three reactor meltdowns. The postmortem of that debacle deemed it to be a man-made disaster because sensible safety measures were not enforced or implemented, oversight was lax and the crisis response was a fiasco...

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