COVID-19 puts the squeeze on Japan's most vulnerable

Countries that had gotten their COVID-19 infection numbers under control had done so by calling for urgent measures, including lockdowns, before those numbers started rising dramatically. Some media outlets were suggesting that Japan, like the United States and the United Kingdom, had waited too long, and would now have to face a potential medical disaster it was not prepared for.The reason for the government’s relative lax approach was a fear that the economy would be irreparably damaged if businesses were forced to suspend operations, but many claim that is the price you have to pay to save lives. During that period, Japan’s suicide rate, always higher than Spain’s, fluctuated in direct proportion to the unemployment rate, while Spain’s remained the same despite fluctuations in unemployment. Looking at other countries, the United States, which has seen a rise in suicides over the past decade or so among white men, is third to Japan in terms of correlation between the economy and suicide. Because companies are not compelled to protect all their workers during severe economic downturns, it is up to the government to provide ongoing support for them, and not just handouts.

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