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On the eve of possible COVID-19 overshoot in Tokyo

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Just last month, some U.S. media ridiculed the Japanese people wearing masks. Now the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urged all Americans to wear a mask when they leave home, although their president called the measure voluntary and said he would not wear one himself. Good grief, we’ve told you about this, haven’t we?

Last week, Japanese netizens derided their prime minister’s decision to distribute two cloth masks to each household throughout the country. They dubbed the two masks as “Abenomask.” Although they badly needed masks, the policy was considered as either “too little, too late,” out of touch with the reality, or both.

Now that Tokyo’s daily infection cases exceed 140 on Sunday, we are on the verge of possible “overshoot.” Japan, however, is still inundated with biased and sometimes irrelevant media reports about COVID-19. While there are some credible and dependable pieces of information, many are not. Why we continue to be misled?

There are at least four reasons why we face such biases or contradictions in the news media over the measures to fight against the pandemic. They are: optimism vs. pessimism, those in power vs. those in opposition, medical experts vs. crisis managers and trust vs. hostility toward science. The following is my take:

Optimism vs. pessimism

In case of crises, whether a war or pandemic, political leaders must prepare the nation for the worst and hope for the best. At the beginning of any crisis when dangers are not always physically felt, people tend to be optimistic, simply because they have not started........

© The Japan Times