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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 May 20 - 26  > Koike discusses online with Professor Nakano coronavirus crisis and Japan’s politics
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2020 May 20 - 26 [POLITICS]

Koike discusses online with Professor Nakano coronavirus crisis and Japan’s politics

May 20, 2020
Japanese Communist Party Secretariat Head Koike Akira on the JCP-hosted online show streamed live on May 18 held talks with Sophia University Professor Nakano Koichi under the theme, “The new coronavirus outbreak and Japan’s politics and society”.

Noting that the daily numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Japan are on a decline, Koike said, “This is thanks to healthcare workers’ devoted efforts, not the Abe government’s countermeasures.” Nakano said, “I think few people credit the government with the downward trend in the infection numbers.”

Koike pointed out, “The fight against the new coronavirus will be long-running. Along with implementing short-term measures, envisaging a post-coronavirus society is necessary.” He also pointed out that the health crisis has caused a heavier damage in countries that implemented neoliberal policies. He said that in the U.S., disproportionate numbers of deaths have been reported among Black and Hispanic Americans. Koike insisted that these facts have highlighted problems associated with neoliberalism which has greatly increased social disparities.

Nakano expressed concern over the Abe government’s ill-preparedness for the coronavirus epidemic. Referring to the fact that in Japan, Minister in charge of Economic Revitalization Nishimura Yasutoshi is serving as the minister in charge of countermeasures against the COVID-19 crisis, Nakano said that he knows of no other nation with such an arrangement. He went on to say that the Abe government has cut back on spending for the National Institute of Health Sciences, local public health centers, and other public healthcare-related fields, which is one of the reasons why the testing capacity for the coronavirus has yet to be improved. Koike proposed, “While the number of new infections remains relatively low, the government should improve the testing capacity and medical preparation in order to get ready for a possible rise in infection numbers again.”

Nakano said that the Abe government’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis is so poor that some people have a false impression that Osaka Governor Yoshimura Hirohumi, a member of the rightist Nippon Ishin no Kai party, has done a relatively good job in this regard. However, in reality, he stressed, the Ishin party is the one that has slashed expenditures for public medical services and on support measures for the needy under the name of administrative reform.

Koike said that Japan is now at a cross-road between an autocratic politics allowing the government to take strong-arm measures and a new civil society with decision-making power in the post-coronavirus era. He said that the urgent need now is to strengthen opposition parties-concerned citizens joint efforts to overcome the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Nakano agreed with Koike.

Past related article:
> Japan conducts only 5,259 tests a day for coronavirus, far short of PM Abe’s daily target of 20K [ April 26, 2020]
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