by Philip Patrick
Friday, 20
January 2023
Analysis
13:00

Japan downgrades Covid amid vaccine safety concerns

The country is one of the most vaccine-sceptical in the world
by Philip Patrick
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida holds a press conference last year. Credit: Getty.

The Japanese government is planning to downgrade the status of Covid-19, reclassifying the disease to the level of seasonal flu. Covid is currently at the second most serious threat level, on a par with tuberculosis and SARS, but after reclassification it would be at number 5 of 5. The move would mean the lifting of nearly all remaining restrictions, and would place barriers in the way of their reimposition. We could be close, it seems, after three wearisome years, to returning to something resembling the old normal.

Money is, unsurprisingly, a large part of the motivation for this. The Japanese economy is in a dire state: 2022 saw a record trade deficit and a plunging yen. Covid curbs can no longer be afforded, especially with the promise to double defence spending over the next five years. The rumoured imminent 400% increase in the price of Moderna shots, currently offered free, is a possible accelerant.


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For the hugely significant domestic tourism sector, even when travel restrictions were removed a lingering reluctance to stray from home meant the recovery was only minor. Pleading with the public failed, too. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced in October that face masks were no longer required outdoors but he has been completely ignored.

Kishida is doubtless concerned about his country’s international reputation. Japan is one the last countries that requires vaccination or a negative PCR on entry and along with the ubiquitous masks, the incessant announcements, the nightly case counts on TV, the thermal cameras at shops, restaurants and places of entertainment the whole situation is looking increasing silly. Kishida will want all that gone by the time of the G7 summit in his hometown of Hiroshima in May.

Then there is the troubling issue of vaccine safety, which is currently still lurking on the fringes of public discourse but becoming more prominent. The issue drew national and even international attention after a video surfaced of an extraordinary meeting in Tokyo on November 25th. This featured harrowing testimony from spouses of alleged vaccine fatalities and an attack on the alleged negligence and secrecy of the Ministry of Health Labour and Welfare (MHLW) by Dr Masanori Fukushima, Professor Emeritus at Kyoto University and a distinguished oncologist.

The matter is now being investigated, with the government starting to make payouts to the vaccine-injured and for vaccine-related deaths, as well as stating that a link ‘cannot be ruled out’.

The mainstream media has only just started reporting this, and even then only briefly. But while pro-vaccine stories were once common, they have now disappeared. This will not go unnoticed in a country where ‘reading the air’, as the Japanese say, is a vital means of interpreting uncomfortable messages. Meanwhile, Shunkan Shincho, a weekly magazine outside the mainstream with a circulation of over half a million, is publishing a series on vaccine-adverse reactions.

Japan is fertile ground for vaccine hesitancy as it has a history of scandals. In 2013 the health ministry withdrew the human papillomavirus vaccine after reports of lasting pain. In 2011 four children given vaccines against types of meningitis and pneumonia died, leading to the immediate suspension of the programme; and in 1993 the MMR vaccine was withdrawn over fears that it caused meningitis. Multiple lawsuits ensued. At the start of the pandemic a study in the Lancet found Japan to be one of the most vaccine-sceptical countries in the world.

Consequently, there was a much more cautious vaccine roll-out here. There was no intimidating ‘get jabbed or else’ messaging and the invitation leaflet, with its list of potential side-effects, seemed almost designed to put people off. A warning label was even placed on each vial.

This official caution is partly due to legal concerns: in 1992 a court ruling made the Japanese government responsible for not only adverse reactions but also side-effects. But it is also probably a consequence of the culture of blame and accountability in Japanese government. Officials, up to and frequently including the Prime Minister, admit fault and resign quite easily, even after relatively trivial scandals. If the official pro-vax, pro-lockdown narrative is going to collapse anywhere, there is reason to believe it could happen in Japan.

To avoid that, Kishida, already vulnerable after a series of scandals and resignations, will hope the downgrade marks a clear distinction between then and now in the public consciousness and enables the nation, and his administration, to move on. It remains to be seen if the people who still fear the virus and those who believe themselves damaged by the vaccines will cooperate.

The world, meanwhile, will be watching with interest, For, just as the outbreak on the Diamond Princess cruise ship moored at Yokohama in February 2020 influenced countries around the world at the beginning of the pandemic, so events in Japan three years later may help determine the global response at its end.

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Tom Watson
Tom Watson
17 days ago

“just as the outbreak on the Diamond Princess cruise ship moored at Yokohama in February 2020 influenced countries around the world at the beginning of the pandemic”

Did it? My recollection is that most of the world (or at least the west) totally ignored that case study and cracked on with lockdowning and handwashing long after it proved that people could catch it from others in another room. Would have been nice if it had influenced anyone in that atmosphere of panic!

Lukasz Gregorczyk
Lukasz Gregorczyk
17 days ago

I sincerely hope that this is the moment when the wall of denial surrounding the negative effects of the jab and their spurious efficacy begins to crumble.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
17 days ago

I made an incorrect comment about early 20th century smallpox vaccines. I see it has been deleted. I would have liked the chance to either correct it or delete myself.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
16 days ago

It is interesting that Japan was early in the pandemic I think one of the countries that at least followed the path of covid panic. The head was being a culture of mask wearing of course.

That also raises the fascinating topic how narratives can seemingly be changed by 180° in a very short period of time, which was exactly what happens with covid-19. The response to previous pandemics have never been to lockdown the whole population.

Perhaps, optimistically, we can now hope for another such narrative shift. So far I think governments are just trying to quietly move on without any recognition of how damaging and largely ineffective, in the medium term, lockdowns were. It is just too damned expensive to do again (I hope!).

Last edited 16 days ago by Andrew Fisher
Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
14 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

The narrative is going to be “no one forced you to get a vaccine” which is of course bullshit. Someone tried that on me the other day and I corrected them. If I wanted to visit my father who lives in another province, if my kids wanted to play sports, go out to any kind of entertainment or food venue, etc. you had to get one. My employer was going to make me get tested weekly if I didn’t get one. The US CDC is already leaking stories about how Pfeizer didn’t give them enough information, etc. The whole world lost its mind and they are never going to admit it.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
14 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

The global and unprecedented response was curious. A relative of mine was working in a lab studying another virus for potential vaccine production and we talked about it. We tended toward the belief that Governments around the world had decided or been told whatever it was got out of a Wuhan Lab, and we came to the conclusion that they all thought it was a bio-weapon. The response to that suggestion from many was ‘Conspiracy Theory’. When Trump mentioned the possibility it escaped from a lab, it effectively confirmed it was a ‘Conspiracy Theory’. The BBC fact checking kindly pointing out The Donald was spreading false news. It didn’t convince me and when Biden said the same as Trump and the BBC had a Radio 4 program on how Biden’s statement wasn’t false news, and why Trump’s had been life became more intriguing. Then Fauci’s exposure as having known about US funding on Gain-of-function in Wuhan and the private emails between 2 scientists who had attacked Trump over his views, being released showing they were convinced the Furan Cleavage Site indicated lab modification I smiled and never believed another word ‘The Scientists’ told me. The sooner we have a proper investigation the better, but I won’t hold my breath as I now believe too many political and scientific careers would be ended ignominiously for that to ever be allowed.

Last edited 14 days ago by Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
14 days ago

The irony of the Diamond Princess was that as a Petri dish it was virtually perfect, elderly passengers by the thousand, yet no one seemed to note that it didn’t become a floating morgue and that the mortality was initially claimed 2/3rds of the WHO claims at 1.1% This was later downgraded to 0.5% IIRC. The average age of the passengers (not clear in anything I read it that included the crew) was 58, none of the younger crew died.
It was also claimed > 75% of cases were asymptomatic yet the only people who were pointing out the dangers of our response were demonised.
https://www.stress.org/stanford-professor-data-indicates-were-severely-overreacting-to-coronavirus

j watson
j watson
18 days ago

c210million doses administered suggests the concerns Japan had at outset abated somewhat, and as article noted Japan did not mandate and had a history of vaccine scepticism. It has had a winter booster campaign too.
There was Moderna batch issue, and then some scare stories month or so ago about link to Myocarditis – in rare incidences and some labelling updated. But that’s not a new issue and just about every vaccine had some side effects in rare incidences which is why we all sign consent with these possible side effects listed. Just like we do when we have pretty much any medical intervention. This Article seems like it looking for a story. Every country with high level of immunity now is scaling back how it handles the virus.
To my knowledge there is no peer reviewed data from Japan showing mortality spike related to vaccine.
And of course Japan will have been closely watching the turmoil in China. Strange not mentioned at all in the article. Would not be surprised Japan making a point to China about how much better it’s managed this.

j watson
j watson
17 days ago
Reply to  Rocky Martiano

When I read a peer review paper in Nature (World’s foremost science/research publication) that proves there is more harm than good from the vaccines used in the West I’ll believe it. Til then un-peer reviewed quasi-science that is trying to get facts to fit a hypothesis I’ll ignore.
As regards UK – the cause of the significant increase in excess deaths is more banal, albeit pretty awful. In 2011 we had c50-60k patients wait longer than 4hrs for treatment/discharge/admission in A&Es. This was out of about 800k attds per month. Now we have c600k wait that long and more per month. 10 fold increase with a real acceleration in the last year, not particularly due to demand and that’s fairly flat. More because hospitals are gridlocked with social care patients they can’t discharge. .
And this excludes who may die at home and never get to hospital. This is the culmination of 12yrs under-investing, esp in Social care capacity to remove the gridlock being created for Hospitals, A&Es and ambulance services. Pandemic may have led to some not seeing GPs and getting next course of statins and that is a factor etc, but they ventured to the GP once vaccinated and feeling safer.
So I’m sorry but any link to the increase in excess deaths with the vaccine I think evidence shows is just plan wrong. China further proving this right now.

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
17 days ago
Reply to  j watson

“I think evidence shows is just plan wrong.”
Can you please provide a link to such evidence?

j watson
j watson
16 days ago
Reply to  Rocky Martiano

Just did – read it again. 10 fold rise in length of wait for emergency treatment. Published facts by the UK Govt every month. It’s the length of wait for time critical treatment.
Whereas where is the top quality peer review on western Vaccines?
You have grasped haven’t you the CCP wants you to be believe the rubbish about western vaccines?

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
14 days ago
Reply to  j watson

The CCP? Hmm and that isn’t a conspiracy theory?

Martin Brumby
Martin Brumby
17 days ago
Reply to  j watson

“When I read a peer review paper in Nature (World’s foremost science/research publication)….”
After all the totally bogus “Climate” peer mate review papers Nature has published over the last 20 years??
Bwaah Haaa Haaa Haaa!

Anthony Michaels
Anthony Michaels
16 days ago
Reply to  j watson

Shifting the burden of proof is often a convenient way to retain one’s established position. With respect to medical interventions – especially ones pushed by the government, industry, and public health institutions as appropriate for everyone – I would prefer to keep the burden of proof on the proponents. First do no harm and such. Also that’s the law.
Peer review is one tool and is only as effective as the culture and individuals who participate — it’s not necessary or sufficient for sound science and it seems to have degraded in practice over time. (By the way, the big pharma studies used to support the initial approval of the vaccines are typically not peer reviewed). You can probably find a peer reviewed Nature article claiming that biological sex isn’t real.
Its quite possible the excess deaths are due mostly to the “lockdown” measures. Although certainly some number must be caused by MRNA vaccines.
The critical point is that significant excess non-COVID deaths do appear to be happening. Our failing elites need to acknowledge and take that seriously instead of ignoring and downplaying it. We need level-headed people to study this carefully from many angles to determine the causes.

Last edited 16 days ago by amichaels8
Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
14 days ago

“Our failing elites need to acknowledge and take that seriously instead of ignoring and downplaying it. ”
Perhaps our elites are taking it seriously, and that is the reason they are downplaying it.
Here is the BBC ‘sort of’ fact checking Biden’s claim Covid got out of a Wuhan lab wasn’t false news, having said Trump’s claim was. It is interesting how the excuses flow – I don’t remember them trying to push the lab-leak and ‘overcome’ the issues the investigative journalists said they faced because of Trump.
Then again, I regularly had posts removed from the BBC IF the content disagreed with SAGE and The Science – it didn’t matter that I linked to say Prof Carl Heneghan’s sites or any other genuine professor who was sceptical. It was all ‘Bad Science’ and false news!
https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p09l0nf3

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
14 days ago
Reply to  j watson

My Virologist family member would laugh at that. They say that there is a crisis in science already and that ‘Peer Review’ is cynically viewed by many as “Your peer review me and I’ll peer review you and we’ll both get more grant money” – perhaps very cynical, but having had their lab stripped of reagents and equipment during covid thus ruining a research project and the powers that be not accepting the offer of volunteering to help, one can see understand the cynicism.
As for Statins, the BBC asked an expert about that
https://twitter.com/DrAseemMalhotra/status/1613837487796850688

Caroline Minnear
Caroline Minnear
16 days ago
Reply to  j watson

https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/covid-19/Documents/weekly-covid-overview-20221231.pdf

• Of the 95 people who were reported to have died with COVID-19, 72 (76%) were known to have received three or more doses of a COVID-19 vaccine,

Pages 4&5 (for reference)

Not a great data for the efficacy of vaccines. And of this is their version of “effective” then I’m worried about what safety means to them.
Just because you weren’t harmed doesn’t mean you were safe.

Anton van der Merwe
Anton van der Merwe
18 days ago

The fundamental problem is vaccine hesitancy amongst the health profession. Instead of explaining clearly to people that vaccines are vastly safer than the infections that they protect people from, doctors warn people about side effects and caution them from taking the vaccine. It is no wonder people are terrified of vaccines!

Last edited 18 days ago by Anton van der Merwe
Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
18 days ago

What exactly is vaccine hesitancy? In Canada, the vaccine rate is 82%, in Japan it is 74%, in the UK it is 87%. The Covid vaccine program is literally the most successful campaign in history.

It beggars belief that doctors and health professionals warned anyone about possible side effects before giving the jab. Certainly wasn’t the case for me or anyone I know.

Jim R
Jim R
18 days ago

The small pox vaccine is vastly safer than small pox. The best you can say about Covid vaccines is they are a little bit safer than Covid. And in another year or two as more and more research comes out, I’m willing to bet we won’t even be able to say that anymore. The public’s trust in the medical community will take years to recover – and as a result even more harm will come to pass as people start rejecting the vaccines that actually are safe and effective.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
18 days ago
Reply to  Jim R

The uptake for smallpox vaccines in the early 20th century was awful. People were scared to death of actually injecting themselves with smallpox!! It was as low as 40%.

But the smallpox vaccine was so effective at stopping the spread, and the death and destruction of smallpox was so overwhelming, that health officials could target individual communities and actually stop the spread of the disease.

It wasn’t until later in the 20th century, with the long established success of the vaccine, that people actually accepted it as a legit treatment.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
17 days ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

This comment is entirely wrong. My apologies. The smallpox vaccine hesitancy took place in the early 1800s. I was only off by 200 years!!!

Russell Sharpe
Russell Sharpe
17 days ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

100 surely?

G A Braine
G A Braine
18 days ago
Reply to  Jim R

If you believe that Covid data was accurate, true and reflective! In which it was not! Death rates are worse across the world since vaccines, Africa seems to be fine!

Martin Brumby
Martin Brumby
17 days ago
Reply to  Jim R

Correct.
And you needn’t wait “another year or two” to figure out that pumping very dodgy “gene therapy” doses into the arms of babes and children (who are at virtually zero risk from even the original Covid strain) would be completely ludicrous – if the results weren’t so dreadful. The tests on the vaccines show clearly there has been a cruel waste of good mice.
Time for criminal prosecutions!

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
14 days ago
Reply to  Martin Brumby

That is the crux of the matter in my mind. Was something criminal done? That needs to be addressed. From the moment we began to panic and emptied hospitals into care homes with no regard for the state of health of the patients, ie did they have covid or not? The response of our leaders has baffled me. The fact that BLM protests etc didn’t bring down wholesale fire and brimstone and the regular breaches of the lockdown by medical officers, doomsday professors and politicians of every stripe didn’t either had me doubting them all from early on.
I came to believe the only way to explain the hysterical response and its continuation (short of a WEF type ‘we know best’ conspiracy – which curiously could be argued given their pandemic response trial not long before covid appeared – tho’ when it appeared is open to dispute) is that it was known that Gain-of-function research by the US and who knows who else from the West, was taking place in the Wuhan lab. Then that it was not such a wild out of nowhere idea that whatever it was got out of one of the Wuhan labs. Next step is ‘Was it our Gain-of-function or a Chinese bio-weapon?’ Whatever the answer to that was not going to be good either way, and so Western Governments panicked, except Sweden’s apparently.
From then on, there was no way back even though the evidence for Covid not being the new Black Death was soon apparent.
By then too many political and scientific careers were on the line. Ironically many political careers are still now, but now because of the economic consequences of lockdown meeting 2008 can kicking. Mix in a little Net Zero and Covid has seriously changed the world. I doubt many in the corridors of power want to face the economic crisis hitting now and have their past sins exposed as well.
However I believe it has to be done, and someone, somewhere if not many of them, have to be held responsible. If for nothing else, then for vaccinating children with mRNA vaccines.

G A Braine
G A Braine
18 days ago

This is the most ignorant message I’ve heard. mRNA vaccines are having such a negatives impact on people, I know 4 people personally, 2 dies from heart issues, and the others serious side effects. These are not vaccines, and they are waning the immune systems, causing the vaccinated to have a much higher flu and Covid repeat rate and waning immune systems. It’s a complete con. The investigation is needed

Andrew Martin
Andrew Martin
16 days ago
Reply to  G A Braine

I don’t listen to the “right said Freds” of this world but to an eminent Immunologist Professor Robert Clancy who is very alarmed at the way mRNA vaccines are being used ad hoc over a whole population. He is not an anti vaxxer but believes these genetic vaccines should be used on a personal basis only as say in tackling Cancer in a specific patient I’ll post the the Interview again so people can understand his concerns
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMyERFBdB4E

Janet G
Janet G
17 days ago

In Australia general practitioners were silenced, being warned they could lose their registration if they advised patients about possible harmful side effects. https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/2022/12/20/kerryn-phelps-vaccine-concerns/

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
14 days ago

mRNA vaccines are NOT the classic, usually attenuated component vaccines. The very fact they lump say AZ together with the mRNA ones is to my mind suspicious. We are witnessing the greatest vaccine trials in history, AND I beg to disagree that except for someone quite ill, anyone under the age of 30 is likely to suffer more from Covid than from an experimental mRNA vaccine given the evidence available. To give them to anyone under 15 or so is, to my mind, bordering on criminal.