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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 February 11 - 18  > Japanese gov’t under criticism over its poor handling of new coronavirus outbreak
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2020 February 11 - 18 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Japanese gov’t under criticism over its poor handling of new coronavirus outbreak

February 16, 2020
Akahata ‘current’ column

The number of new coronavirus infection cases in Japan is on the rise. News of such cases has come from many parts of the country and the first case of death in Japan was reported recently. With infectious disease experts pointing out that the situation has evolved into a new stage, the current countermeasures centering on quarantine at airports and seaports are no longer enough. The government should adopt a new approach without delay and take measures to ensure early detection and medical treatment for those affected by the new coronavirus.

The Japanese government’s response to the issue, especially its handling of patients among passengers on a cruise ship anchoring at a port near Tokyo, is meeting with criticism from both home and abroad. An expert at the World Health Organization recently said that the world is concerned most about Japan's lack of proper response.

The government should make use of every possible measure to combat the epidemic by listening to the opinions of opposition parties, including a proposal made by the Japanese Communist Party. No politician or bureaucrat must play down the seriousness of the outbreak by deliberately taking slow responses as if to make a desperate wish that the issue will not affect their careers and the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

In order to contain the epidemic, it is important to make sure that all workers can take sick leave when they have suspicious symptoms. A taxi driver and a part-time worker at a traditional Japanese houseboat (yakatabune) operator who were infected with the new coronavirus are in their 70s. Still now, workers often have difficulties in taking days off even when they are sick and many elderly people have no choice but to work in order to make ends meet. Such an unhealthy situation should be addressed.

A Diet deliberation made last year by JCP lawmaker Tamura Tomoko has come under the spotlight. Tamura at that time criticized the government for having slashed the staff and budget of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases. She warned that if the government keeps decreasing the budget allotted to the institute, it will become unable to cope with an epidemic that threatens people’s health and lives. Tamura stressed, “Preparedness against infectious diseases is an indispensable part of national security.”

Past related articles:
> LDP move to use coronavirus issue to add ‘emergency clause’ to Constitution unacceptable [February 9, 2020]
> JCP Takahashi urges gov’t to provide support to medical facilities to counter new coronavirus cases [February 7, 2020]
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