On April 7, the Japanese government declared a state of emergency to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, but many people, including the governors of Tokyo and Osaka, thought this decision came too late. Reportedly, the reason for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's delay was opposition from influential corners of his cabinet because of the negative economic impact.
At the same time, several of the Abe administration's much publicized policy responses, such as distributing two cloth masks to each household and cash relief of 300,000 yen ($2,800) to selected households, met with public criticism.In contrast, way back in January, the Taiwanese government under President Tsai Ing-wen began limiting the entry of visitors who had been to infected areas; developed a 24-hour testing kit; centralized mask production; and utilized information technology and data to facilitate mask distribution. These measures were well-received by the public.
Why have these two governments handled the pandemic so differently despite their countries' similar levels of socio-economic development?