Japan coronavirus cases increase to 10,000: Aloofness of Abe and Koike

Japan coronavirus cases increase to 10,000: Aloofness of Abe and Koike

Chika Mori and Lee Jay Walker 

Modern Tokyo Times

Coronavirus (Covid-19) cases have now reached 10,000 in Japan, with Tokyo having the most infections. Despite the worrying trend of increased cases, the death toll remains low at 222 people. After all, coronavirus entered Japan more than three months ago.

Of course, it is worrying that the death toll is gradually increasing along with more cases being reported. Hence, it is strange that little planning was done to equip hospitals fully. Especially given the response of other developed Asia Pacific nations.

For example, the nations of Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan all responded quickly. This applies to tests, tracking, ramping up hospital protection for health care workers, quarantine, and locking down when appropriate – even if targeted regions like South Korea. Hence, the nations of Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan took the coronavirus seriously.

Despite the first reported case of coronavirus being the middle of January, the political elites in Japan were more focused on economics and the 2020 Olympics. Thus, the remarkable fact about coronavirus in Japan is that it is getting worse after three months. Therefore, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike should be held accountable.

It is abundantly clear that Abe and Koike were focused on at least the postponement of the Olympics – cancelation was to be avoided at all costs. This fact meant that the coronavirus issue was pushed under the carpet. Hence, the coronavirus increase parallels within 24 hours of the postponement of the Olympics – it is a coincidence that really doesn’t appear natural.

Abe from day one was heavily focused on the economic angle. Thus he is now being questioned for his slow response, and rightly so. The same questioning should apply to the opportunist nature of Koike. After all, the Governor of Hokkaido took action to stem coronavirus.

Yet Koike didn’t even shut down the sexual entertainment industry so near to her office in Shinjuku. On top of this, Koike didn’t shut down other areas where the coronavirus could spread in Tokyo. Therefore, her actions only increased dramatically once the postponement of the Olympics was announced and this hints at opportunism.

Infections in Tokyo are now just below 3,000 and in general, are hovering between 150 and 200 per day in recent times. Yet, given the fact that the coronavirus entered Japan in the middle of January, what is her excuse for ignoring areas of possible transmission for so long prior to the postponement of the Olympics?

Of course, Abe and his administration bear the most responsibility. Yet, sadly, from the start of the crisis, too many of his administration didn’t take the coronavirus situation seriously. Indeed, even when ministers acted irresponsibly, they still didn’t face sacking.

For example, Shinjiro Koizumi (the Environment Minister) took 12 days off for paternity and preferred to visit a party rather than attend an important coronavirus meeting. He wasn’t the only irresponsible minister. However, the fact that Abe took no action sums up his administration.

Japan is now at a new juncture in the coronavirus crisis. Yet for too long Abe and Koike ignored facts on the ground – and the international reality. Hence, while the death toll is still remarkably low, the fact remains that the sudden upturn is largely based on the aloofness of political elites. Thus with reports stating that hospitals are especially worried in Tokyo, then what excuses can Abe and Koike give?

Surely, isn’t three months enough to plan how to protect frontline healthcare workers and the people of Japan?


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