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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien

COVID-19: Japan’s handling of a new challenge in international comparison

Viruses are smaller and less complex than bacteria, the tiny unicellular organisms. Nevertheless, they are capable of seriously threatening the largest and most complex “organism”, our civilization. Historically, this has been dramatically proven several times and there have also been recent warnings before the current crisis. Nevertheless, even technically highly developed industrial nations with modern health care systems were, with few exceptions, poorly prepared for the outbreak of COVID-19.

The COVID-19 crisis has severely affected research in the social sciences and humanities, while at the same time offering them a “natural experiment”. The global scale of the crisis allows for an international comparative analysis of the response to and handling of the pandemic on different levels, in different areas and along multiple dimensions. This includes questions like: Why were some countries better prepared for the crisis than others? How do governments solve the trade-off between health, private freedom, and economic stability? What role do experts play in deciding and communicating political measures? What impact does the crisis have on the digital transformation?

The simultaneity and global scale of the pandemic allow for country comparisons that contribute to a better understanding of cultural, social, economic and political interrelationships. They also facilitate investigations of their path and contextual dependency since system structures are most evident under crisis conditions.

In the context of our research program Risks and Opportunities in Japan, it is obvious that Japan’s handling of the new challenge should be taken up and analyzed comparatively. We do this in cooperation with international experts and in various formats. This page provides an overview of our activities in this area.

Selected Publications


November 9, 2020
DIJ Forum
Quo Vadis, Central Banks? Monetary Policy in the COVID-19 Crisis and Beyond

September 9, 2020
DIJ Forum
Economic Policy Responses to the Covid-19 Crisis in the Euro Area and Japan

June 18, 2020
DIJ Forum
How Real Are Numbers?
Making Sense of National COVID-19 Statistics

May 27, 2020
DIJ Forum
National Approaches to Systemic Risk
Germany and Japan under the COVID-19 Crisis