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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 July 22 - 28  > PM Abe has shut himself up since end of Diet session despite surge in COVID-19 cases
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2020 July 22 - 28 TOP3 [POLITICS]

PM Abe has shut himself up since end of Diet session despite surge in COVID-19 cases

July 24, 2020

Since the ordinary session of the Diet ended on June 17, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has neither participated in off-session Diet meetings nor held a press conference, avoiding his responsibility to deal with important challenges posed by the ongoing pandemic and the latest heavy rain disasters.

This may be because PM Abe fears that if he attends off-session Diet meetings, he will be grilled by opposition parties and thus his approval rating would drop further from the current level which remains low due to his maladministration and a chain of scandals surrounding the Abe government. However, to provide explanations before the Diet is the minimum responsibility of the prime minister.

Between the time when the first surge in COVID-19 cases occurred in Japan and when the state of emergency was lifted, PM Abe always held a press conference after a government task force meeting. For the past month, an infection leap emerged again across Japan, mainly Tokyo. On July 23, in addition to Tokyo which reported a record 366 coronavirus infections, other major cities such as Nagoya and Osaka also hit record highs in daily cases. In spite of this situation, PM Abe did not have a session with reporters after taking part in a task force meeting.

In addition, the Abe government shows reluctance to hold Diet discussions on necessary measures which include the improvement of the PCR testing capacity, a solution to the health care capacity crunch, and a business suspension request for specific industries and areas in combination with compensation for loss of earnings.

Meanwhile, the government on July 22 initiated the “Go To Travel” campaign to boost the tourism industry amid a mounting public concern that a second wave of infections may have come to Japan. PM Abe, however, shows reluctance to attend off-session Diet meetings and clarify the reason why the government launched the “Go To” campaign which was originally scheduled to start after the corona crisis was brought under control.

It is urgently necessary to provide support for the reconstruction of heavy rain-hit regions and the relief of disaster victims. As these areas already received a heavy blow from the pandemic, the need is to provide support that goes beyond conventional programs. In order to discuss this matter, Budget Committees and Special Committees on disaster in both Houses of the Diet held off-session meetings. PM Abe, however, never attended these meetings.

Opposition parties, including the Japanese Communist Party, on July 22 at a meeting of their Diet affairs chiefs decided to push PM Abe to take part in off-session Diet meetings and take steps to fulfil his accountability.

Past related articles:
> Shii demands postponement of 'Go To Travel' campaign [July 18, 2020]
> Opposition parties will work together to aid heavy rain victims and achieve recovery [July 9, 2020]
> Shii protests the closing of Diet session without sufficiently discussing anti-coronavirus measures [June 18, 2020]

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