Japan’s COVID-19 Response –– Part 3

A Troubling Third Wave and Low Public Confidence

While the first infection wave died down at the end of April, the number of infections began rising again in late June, marking the beginning of the second wave, which peaked in early August.

Reflecting the success of a national state of emergency declaration, the situation abated.  Unfortunately the number of infections started to increase again in late October as the government sought to stimulate economic activity including a program designed to promote travel and tourism within Japan.

Japan is now in the throes of a third wave, with the daily number of new coronavirus cases hitting a record 7,883 on this month.  Infections with new coronavirus variants that appears to be highly transmissible have also been confirmed.

The government has declared another state of emergency for Tokyo and other major population centers and is considering a proposal to expand national and local governmental authority to strengthen enforcement of policies to prevent spread of the virus.

However, according to the most recent public opinion polls, the approval rate for the government of new Prime Minister Suga continues dropping significantly since September, with disapproval of Suga’s “lack of leadership” over the pandemic cited by respondents.

One survey found 68.3 percent were dissatisfied with the coronavirus measures implemented by the government while the recently announced monthlong state of emergency declared was viewed as “too late” by 79.2 percent.  Nearly 78 percent said it needed to be expanded to other areas.

Regarding the government’s plan to seek authority to punish businesses that refuse to comply with its requests, 48.7 percent of survey respondents opposed such punishment, while 42.7 percent were supportive.

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