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Japan Minister Says Higher ‘Cultural Standard’ Helped Beat Virus

  • Deputy PM Aso says Japanese have different cultural standards
  • Remarks from gaffe-prone minister decried by many online
Morning commuters wearing protective masks walk along a street in Tokyo.

Morning commuters wearing protective masks walk along a street in Tokyo.

Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg

Japan’s success against the coronavirus without enforcing a strict lockdown is due to the citizens’ “cultural standard” that is different from other nations, Finance Minister Taro Aso said, drawing criticism from the public that the comments were inappropriate.

“Other countries have called me up and asked me if we’re the only ones with some drug against the virus or something,” Aso said on Thursday in response to a question from a lawmaker on Japan’s reputation of successfully containing the pandemic. “When I tell them ‘our country’s cultural standard levels are different to yours,’ they’re left speechless. That’s the simplest way to put an end to the questions.”