Hay Fever in Japan

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has recently vowed to tackle hay fever, a pollen allergy that affects a significant portion of the Japanese population. In a recent parliamentary committee, Kishida referred to hay fever as a “social problem” and pledged to work with ministers to devise a response to the issue. In this article, we will explore the prevalence of hay fever in Japan and the measures being taken to address it.

What is Hay Fever?

Hay fever is a pollen allergy that typically causes itchy, watery eyes and sneezing. It is usually caused by the pollen of specific plants or trees, and its symptoms can range from mild to severe. Hay fever is a common ailment in many parts of the world and is estimated to affect up to 30% of the global population.

Prevalence of Hay Fever in Japan

In Japan, hay fever is particularly prevalent, with approximately 40% of the population experiencing symptoms. The main culprits responsible for the outbreak of hay fever in Japan are cedar and cypress trees, which are widely planted throughout the country.

Postwar Reforestation Program

The prevalence of hay fever in Japan can be traced back to a postwar reforestation program that aimed to help the country’s construction industry by planting trees at a rapid rate. As a result, Japanese forests were left to grow in density, causing an influx of pollen and misery for those affected by hay fever.

Mask-Wearing in Japan

Many people in Japan continue to wear masks outside, despite the recent lifting of government guidelines advising people to wear face coverings to prevent the spread of Covid-19. This is in part due to the prevalence of hay fever, with masks being used as a means of protection against both pollen and Covid-19.

Kishida’s Plan

The Japanese government under Kishida is expected to address the issue of hay fever by logging and replanting forests with trees that shed less pollen. Additionally, the government is also reportedly promoting a type of rice that is said to alleviate hay fever symptoms. The plan aims to provide relief to hay fever sufferers and reduce the impact of hay fever on the productivity of the Japanese workforce.

Recent Sales Surge

This year’s pollen season has sparked a surge in sales of antihistamine and other products, with some shops reporting a doubling in sales compared to the first three months of 2022.  The sales of treatments such as anti-inflammatory nasal sprays and anti-allergy eyedrops spiked because of this issue.

Environment Ministry Warning

The environment ministry recently warned that Tokyo and eleven other prefectures would witness their highest cedar pollen counts for 10 years. This has prompted several companies to provide “hay fever allowances” to employees to spend on prescription treatments and clinic visits.




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