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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 June 24 - 30  > Gov’t should utilize expert panel’s review to deal with coronavirus situation in next steps
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2020 June 24 - 30 [POLITICS]

Gov’t should utilize expert panel’s review to deal with coronavirus situation in next steps

June 29, 2020

Akahata editorial (excerpts)

Economic Revitalization Minister Nishimura Yasutoshi, who is in charge of the coronavirus situation, recently announced his plan to set up a new government panel as a replacement for the existing expert panel tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. This has aroused controversy because no prior explanation for this policy was given to the expert panel or even to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. The abrupt announcement of the minister’s plan disregards the important role played by the current expert panel, including proposing necessary countermeasures, and will only increase public concern over the Abe government’s preparedness for a potential surge in virus infections.

The current panel, consisting of professionals in infectious diseases, public health, and other medical fields, was established on February 14 under the government’s coronavirus task force.

Panel members on June 24 at a press conference released a report. In the report, they examined issues which came up in the panel’s handling of the situation for nearly four months and made recommendations regarding the expert panel’s role in making preparations for a possible new wave of infections.

The report stressed that the scope of responsibility and the role played should be clarified in relations between the government and the expert panel. The report also urged the government to revise the current emergency risk communication structure and policies in relation to possible scenarios in a second wave of infections.

The Abe administration was reluctant to ask for advice from the expert panel when making controversial decisions such as a nationwide school closure and the suspension of large-scale events, and caused confusion among the general public. The Abe government in its anti-corona efforts failed to communicate with the general public by providing accurate information based on experts’ knowledge. Such a stance should be severely criticized. Without having discussions and an examination on the government stance ignoring the expert panel, the establishment of a new panel will only put the general public into further anxiety.

What the Abe government should do now is to focus on preparations for a possible new wave of infections by taking the expert panel’s recommendations seriously.

Past related article:
> Abe should listen to experts sincerely in efforts to contain new coronavirus [March 3, 2020]
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