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Excess deaths double in Japan in 2022


TOKYO, April 6 (Xinhua) — Japan saw excess deaths of up to 113,000 in 2022, more than double the year-earlier figure, according to newly released health ministry statistics, underscoring the possibility that COVID-19, directly and indirectly, contributed to the increase in excess mortality.

The estimates were compiled by the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID), an institution under the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.

According to the NIID, the number of excess deaths, defined as the difference between the observed numbers of deaths in a certain period and the expected numbers of deaths in the same period, was between 47,330 and 113,399 in 2022, compared with 11,475 to 50,495 in 2021.

Takaji Wakita, director-general of the NIID and chair of the health ministry’s advisory panel, told reporters Wednesday that the increase in such deaths may be linked to the spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus, which drove record levels of COVID-19 infections and deaths in Japan last year.

“We have seen an increase in the number of deaths in respiratory diseases and senility,” Wakita said, adding that “this may have been influenced by the spread of the omicron variant. We need further analysis on this.”