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World Frustration in Japan as leader pushes Olympics despite virus

13:30  12 may  2021
13:30  12 may  2021 Source:   msn.com

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TOKYO (AP) — A full-page newspaper ad says Japanese will be "killed by politics" because the government is forcing them to endure the pandemic without vaccines. More than 300,000 people have signed a petition calling for the Tokyo Olympics to be canceled. And a swimming star has faced pressure to drop out of the games.

A man wearing a protective mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walks past a banner for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo Tuesday, May 11, 2021. The Japanese capital confirmed more than 920 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko) © Provided by Associated Press A man wearing a protective mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walks past a banner for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo Tuesday, May 11, 2021. The Japanese capital confirmed more than 920 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko) Men wearing protective masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walks past a banner for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo Tuesday, May 11, 2021. The Japanese capital confirmed more than 920 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko) © Provided by Associated Press Men wearing protective masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walks past a banner for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo Tuesday, May 11, 2021. The Japanese capital confirmed more than 920 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, meanwhile, has caused anger and confusion by repeatedly vowing to skeptical lawmakers that the Olympics will be safe, even as some hospitals struggle to find beds for the sick and dying and a state of emergency was extended on Wednesday to more places in Japan.

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Only 1% of the public has been fully vaccinated, even as millions of doses sit unused in freezers, and there's deepening frustration over Suga's request for people to endure more emergency virus measures amid ramped-up planning for the resource-draining Olympics, which are to start in about two months.

Last month, Suga declared a third state of emergency in Osaka, the center of the current surge in virus cases, as well as in Tokyo and two other areas. That has since been extended through May 31. On Wednesday, two more areas, Aichi in central Japan and Fukuoka in the south, were placed under the emergency measures.

A man rides a bicycle through a shopping arcade at the Asakusa district in Tokyo Tuesday, May 11, 2021. The Japanese capital confirmed more than 920 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko) © Provided by Associated Press A man rides a bicycle through a shopping arcade at the Asakusa district in Tokyo Tuesday, May 11, 2021. The Japanese capital confirmed more than 920 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

“No vaccine. No medication. Are we supposed to fight with bamboo spears? We'll be killed by politics if things remain unchanged," said the critical ad, which showed an illustration of a red coronavirus symbol on a World War II-era photo of Japanese children practicing to fight with “naginata” sword-shaped sticks.

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The ad by Tokyo-based publisher Takarajimasha, known for its outspoken stance on political and social issues, urged the public to demand that the government end poorly conceived coronavirus measures. “We have been deceived. What was the past year for?” it said.

The publisher said many Japanese people have faced medical and financial problems with little government support. It said the situation resembles Japan near the end of the war when the government urged people to fight with sticks and mobilized schoolgirls to train.

The ad caused a stir on social media. But there was also wide public interest in a session of parliament in which scores of opposition lawmakers asked Suga how he could guarantee a safe Olympics during an expanded state of emergency.

Suga repeatedly dodged giving a direct answer, saying more than a dozen times that he was committed to holding the games safely and to protecting people's lives and health.

In Japan, where less than 1% of the population is fully vaccinated, protests to cancel or postpone Olympics intensify

  In Japan, where less than 1% of the population is fully vaccinated, protests to cancel or postpone Olympics intensify The country is in the throes of a fast-spreading wave of COVID-19 infections. Many Japanese people feel this is no time to be hosting Olympic Games.The situation is so dire that a state of emergency in Tokyo has been extended until the end of May to combat the spread of the virus.

Videos of Suga's parliamentary remarks were shared on social media, and people posted comments such as “The prime minister is broken.”

Suga and his government have faced criticism for being too slow and lax on virus measures. Even though Japan has managed to keep its number of cases and deaths below those in the U.S. and Europe without lockdowns and other mandatory measures, the results are worse than some other places in Asia.

Japan has also lagged far behind in vaccinations. Though officials blame a lack of supplies imported from Europe, progress is slow because of staff shortages. About 7.6 million doses, or more than half of the doses delivered, remain unused in freezers.

Public frustration has even targeted Japanese swimming star Rikako Ikee, who won a spot at the Tokyo Olympics after recovering from leukemia. Ikee tweeted recently that she has received messages that “pained her heart” by urging her to oppose the Olympics and not attend.

A petition demanding the cancellation of the Olympics has gained more than 300,000 signatures. It urges the government to spend the money for the games instead on people in need of financial support because of the pandemic.

On Wednesday a magazine reported that the Japan Medical Association organized an in-person political fund-raising party for a lawmaker in Suga's governing Liberal Democratic Party in late April, when infections were accelerating and Osaka and other prefectures were seeking emergency steps.

JMA President Toshio Nakagawa said it was a seminar at a Tokyo hotel where social distancing and other antivirus measures were observed and no food was served.

Singapore and Taiwan Covid spikes put pressure on Tokyo Olympics .
When vaccination rates are low, international travel is more likely to result in Covid-19 outbreaks.In both Singapore and Taiwan, the clusters began around airports, and then spread from airline staff and airport workers into the broader community. In the case of Taiwan, the problem was compounded by a slow vaccine rollout.

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