To provide insight into the mortality burden of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Japan, we estimated the excess all-cause deaths for each week during the pandemic, January-May 2020, by prefecture and age group. We applied quasi-Poisson regression models to vital statistics data. Excess deaths were expressed as the range of differences between the observed and expected number of all-cause deaths and the 95% upper bound of the 1-sided prediction interval. A total of 208-4,322 all-cause excess deaths at the national level indicated a 0.03%-0.72% excess in the observed number of deaths. Prefecture and age structure consistency between the reported COVID-19 deaths and our estimates was weak, suggesting the need to use cause-specific analyses to distinguish between direct and indirect consequences of COVID-19.
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