Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga presents the reform of public health law to Parliament in Tokyo on January 18.

Despite the proclamation, Wednesday, January 13, of a state of emergency in Tokyo and its suburbs as well as in seven departments with more than half of the population and representing 60% of the GDP, the Japanese seem reluctant to follow government directives.

Taken aback by the worrying wave of Covid-19 contamination affecting the country, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga must submit to Parliament, whose ordinary session opened on Monday January 18, a reform of the legislation on public health making it possible to prosecute those who do not comply with measures to control the spread of the virus.

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The Japanese, however respectful of barrier gestures, have they suddenly become so unruly that they have to be threatened with sanctions? Probably not. But they have lost confidence in a government whose procrastination, late and even contradictory reactions dissuade them from following instructions, in particular travel restrictions. And they let their guard down.

The Olympics, a priority for the government

According to a January 12 poll by the public broadcaster NHK, 79% of those polled believe the government is acting too late on the coronavirus and is only favoring the economy. Another poll, from the Kyodo News news agency, indicates a similar percentage of people in favor of a postponement (45%) or cancellation (35%) of the Olympics. Holding the Games is a government-proclaimed priority, but it arouses skepticism even among cabinet members. ” Everything can happen », Declared Taro Kono, the minister of administrative reform recently. On this issue too, the government is not in tune with public opinion.

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Relatively spared by the pandemic – 4,400 deaths and 320,000 contaminations – the archipelago has been experiencing a third wave of infections since November. Daily infections now exceed 7,000 compared to less than 4,000 at the end of December.

This increase has the corollary of an acceleration in the influx of patients into hospitals: 68,321 people were treated for Covid-19 on January 16 against 37,187 at the beginning of the month. In the previous two waves, this figure had not exceeded 14,000. In Tokyo, the bed occupancy rate for the most seriously ill exceeds 100%. According to a survey carried out in December by the Japanese stroke treatment company, 18% of hospitals, forced to increase the reception capacities of Covid patients, “Restrict care” to people who are victims of cardiovascular problems, or even refuse to take care of them.

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