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HOME  > Past issues  > 2021 May 19 - 25  > DefMin puts pressure on critical media reporting on vaccine booking system flaws
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2021 May 19 - 25 [POLITICS]

DefMin puts pressure on critical media reporting on vaccine booking system flaws

May 20, 2021

Opposition parties' Diet affairs committee chairpersons, including Japanese Communist Party Diet Policy Commission Chair Kokuta Keiji, on May 19 received an explanation from Defense Ministry Director Serizawa Kiyoshi regarding the protest the ministry lodged with specific newspapers over their reports on flaws in the COVID-19 vaccine reservation system at ministry-run mass vaccination centers.

Answering questions from the opposition parties, Serizawa admitted to the fact that the ministry knew in advance about a defect in the online booking system and said that the ministry lodged protests against two media organizations because their coverage "could deprive people of access to immunizations".

Serizawa said that countermeasures are "under consideration", showing that the ministry did not take any steps to address the issue despite knowing of the defect in the system.

Deputy chair of the JCP Diet Policy Commission Shiokawa Tetsuya said, "It was revealed that the ministry hasn't addressed the flaw."

Haraguchi Kazuhiro, acting Diet affairs chief of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, pointed out that the problem is the flaw in the system and said, "Anything that may constitute an infringement on the right to freedom of the press must not be allowed."

The national government opened mass vaccination centers in Tokyo and Osaka, and commissioned the Defense Ministry to operate the centers. On May 17 when bookings were initiated, AERA dot., an Asahi Shimbun Publication news site, and the major daily Mainichi Shimbun reported on the flaw in the booking system.

In response, Defense Minister Kishi Nobuo lodged a protest with the Mainichi Shimbun and Asahi Shimbun, criticizing their reports as "harmful acts that could waste vaccines". Former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo tweeted that these media are "offenders for pleasure".

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