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HOME  > Past issues  > 2021 January 13 - 19  > PM Suga in his policy speech ignores growing public criticism of his maladministration
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2021 January 13 - 19 TOP3 [POLITICS]

PM Suga in his policy speech ignores growing public criticism of his maladministration

January 19, 2021

Akahata editorial (excerpts)

Amid the ongoing spike in COVID-19 cases, Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide on January 18, the opening day of the 204th ordinary session of the Diet, delivered his policy speech. It is tradition for the prime minister in the Diet policy speech to outline the basic policies which the government plans to implement during the year. PM Suga in his policy speech just appealed for the general public to overcome the unprecedented hardships caused by the pandemic, while failing to introduce measures to tackle the pandemic situation seriously. Suga showed no regret for the current crisis resulted from his policy clinging to the “Go To” campaign schemes. He also showed no sign of remorse over his intervention in the selection of members for the Science Council of Japan as well as over his mishandling of frequent “money-for-politics” scandals.

The latest opinion poll by the Yomiuri Shimbun (January 18) showed that PM Suga’s disapproval rating sharply increased to 49%, surpassing the approval rating, which slipped to 39%, for the first time since the Suga administration was inaugurated last autumn. In another opinion poll conducted by the Mainichi Shimbun (January 17), the approval rating fell to 33% and the disapproval rating rose to 57%.

In the policy speech, PM Suga stopped short of calling for a drastic expansion of the PCR testing capacity and showed no willingness to relieve medical institutions facing a loss of earnings and food establishments which comply with a government request to shorten business hours. On the contrary, he announced his decision to introduce penal regulations in the fight against the pandemic, such as imposing a fine on shop owners who refuse to comply with government requests. What the government should do now is conduct a “mass testing” of individuals, irrespective of whether they are displaying symptoms. In addition, it should take action to fully support healthcare providers and compensate business income losses caused by coronavirus-related restrictions.

In the 2020 third supplementary budget draft on which Diet discussions will soon begin, the government will plan to use a huge amount of tax money for the extension of the “Go To” campaign period and for large-scale public works projects. On the other hand, the draft budget fails to deal with the ongoing spike in COVID-19 cases and the latest state of emergency. Such a budget plan should be revised.

PM Suga expressed his intent to increase out-of-pocket medical expenses of the elderly aged 75 and over and to move forward with nuclear power generation and the new U.S. base construction in Okinawa. He made an “apology” in a perfunctory manner for his remarks in past Diet sessions regarding the scandal involving the former PM Abe-hosted hotel banquets for his supporters on the eve of annual tax-funded cherry blossom-viewing parties. While avoiding touching on the “egg” scandal involving the poultry industry in which former Agriculture Minister Yoshikawa Takamori was indicted, PM Suga once again called for promoting Diet deliberations on constitutional revision, which sheds light on the dangerous nature of the Suga administration.

The urgent need now is to bring down the ruthless and iron-fisted Suga government through joint struggles of opposition parties and concerned citizens.

Past related articles:
> JCP: Not fines but consent and grants are needed to fight COVID-19 pandemic [January 11, 2021]
> Shii comments on 2nd COVID state of emergency [January 8, 2021]
> Ex-Agriculture Minister under suspicion of receiving cash-for-favor from poultry farmer [December 9, 2020]
> PM Suga’s refusal of SCJ nominees recalls imperial government suppression of academic freedom [October 23, 2020]
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