LETTER FROM TOKYO
Japan is seen as a country where everything works perfectly and whose inhabitants show good citizenship… Which is not wrong. But the erratic policy of the government of Yoshihide Suga to contain a new wave of contamination irritates and worries the public. The Japanese are ready to respect the authorities’ directives, but they still need to be clear. However, they turn out to be confused, contradictory and not free from ulterior motives.
Japan was marginally affected by the first wave of Covid-19 contamination: poorly controlled by the government, it was however on a much smaller scale than in Europe and the United States due to the individual discipline of Japanese (wearing a mask, hygiene, physical distancing part of the customs). But since the middle of November, the archipelago has experienced a new progression of contaminations. This third wave (after that of spring and summer) promises to be stronger than the previous ones: on December 9, Japan recorded 164,000 cases of contamination and 2,382 deaths since the start of the pandemic, but the number of severe cases is increasing.
Hospitals are at the limit of their capacity. To the point that the cities of Asahikawa (Hokkaido), where the contagion is spreading, and Osaka, placed in a state of health emergency, are calling on army medical personnel to cope with the influx of patients . Last week Public Health Minister Norihisa Tamura called on the country to prepare for the “Worst case scenario” : growing strain on the health system which may not be able to cope with the increase in hospitalizations.
“Go to … Covid-19”
The causes of this upsurge in contagion are multiple, but one in particular is pointed out by the medical profession: the campaign to promote domestic tourism (called “Go to Travel”), subsidized by the State. Launched in July by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, it is continued by his successor, Yoshihide Suga. Better: while it was to stop in January, he extended it until June 2021. A survey, conducted among 24,400 people by four Japanese and American medical research institutes, published on December 6, highlights light a higher proportion of contamination among participants in the tourism promotion campaign.
The department of Hokkaido and the city of Osaka have been excluded but Tokyo (where new cases are in the order of 400 to 500 per day) remains on the list, much to the chagrin of the governor of the capital, Yuriko. Koike, who calls on seniors not to travel.
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