Survey Reveals that 50% of COVID Experts in Japan Have Experienced Slander and Threats, Reports The Mainichi

A recent survey conducted by a research group led by Professor Mikihito Tanaka at Waseda University in Japan has revealed that half of the country’s coronavirus researchers have experienced slander and attacks. The survey, believed to be the first of its kind in Japan, aimed to shed light on the realities faced by experts who convey scientific information about the coronavirus.

The group collected comments from Japanese COVID-19 specialists found in television and newspapers between February 2020 and March 2021. Out of the 121 specialists selected, 42 responded to the survey, resulting in a response rate of 34.7%.

According to the survey, 50% of the respondents reported experiencing attacks after publishing COVID-19-related information. Of these attacks, six occurred around the time the information was published, while 15 said they happened “sometimes.” The negative effects of these attacks were also examined, with 29% of respondents reporting no negative impact. However, for those who did experience negative effects, approximately 80% said they suffered psychological and emotional impacts. In some severe cases, three specialists received death threats, and two received threats of physical or sexual violence.

This survey highlights a similar situation faced by COVID-19 researchers overseas. A survey conducted in seven countries and regions, including the United States, Britain, and Taiwan, found that 15% of specialists who had their comments carried by mass media and other channels received death threats, while 22% reported threats of physical or sexual violence.

Professor Tanaka emphasized that physical and psychological intimidation hinders healthy debate in society and called for a system that can support and protect those who openly engage in discussions about science.

The findings of this survey were published in the May edition of the Journal of the Japanese Society for Artificial Intelligence.

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By Kate Stephenson
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