Suga defends government's coronavirus policies
NHK -- Jan 21
Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide defended the government's policies against the coronavirus while answering questions about his recent policy speech in the Diet.

In the Lower House on Wednesday, Constitutional Democratic Party leader Edano Yukio accused Suga of delaying necessary measures against the virus by ignoring public opinion. Edano said this resulted in what can only be described as an infection explosion. He urged Suga to acknowledge his misjudgment and apologize for it.

Suga dismissed suggestions that he had been slow in responding to the pandemic due to groundless optimism.

He pledged to take necessary steps to protect people's lives and livelihoods and to maintain jobs and businesses while containing the spread of the virus.

Edano referred to the proposed revision of the legislation on infectious diseases, and raised strong objections to a possible penalty of even imprisonment for violations. He said the government should fulfill its responsibility and improve support for those infected so as to induce the public to cooperate rather than force them to abide by restrictions.

Suga said the revision aims to prevent the spread of infections while giving sufficient consideration to the rights of individuals. He said penalties would be introduced to punish those who refuse to be hospitalized, for example.

Suga said the government will listen to the opinions of governing and opposition parties and aim to submit a bill to the Diet as soon as possible.

Ohsaka Seiji, also of the Constitutional Democratic Party, questioned about the recent cases with an apparent coronavirus variant prevalent in Britain. On Monday, three people in Shizuoka Prefecture without history of overseas travel were confirmed with the variant. Ohsaka suggested that the new infections without any known contact represent a human-induced disaster caused by Suga, who, he said, had stuck to maintaining travel of businesspeople.

Suga countered that he quickly tightened quarantine measures for arrivals from countries and territories where a variant had been confirmed. He said the government has steadily put necessary quarantine measures in place while keeping a close eye on infection situations in Japan and abroad.

Suga also pledged to do all he can to overcome the virus ahead of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics later this year. He said the government has been studying the specific measures to prevent infections by consulting with the International Olympic Committee and other bodies to ensure safe games in Tokyo.


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