Proceed with policies and steadily produce results

If policies are changed time and again without sufficient consideration, confusion will arise. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida needs to map out a clear strategy and steadily produce results.

Kishida has resumed his duties in person after a period of recuperation from the novel coronavirus. “I will work with all my heart and soul,” he told a news conference.

There is an urgent need to help those suffering from the coronavirus pandemic and soaring prices. Efforts must also be made to restore the international order, which has been shaken by the Ukraine crisis. Kishida should display his leadership.

The seventh wave of the coronavirus continues to keep the public on alert against the infectious disease.

To ease the burden on medical institutions and public health centers, the government has revised its method of checking the information of all infected people, including their names and birth dates. Under the new system, they will be able to limit the scope of reporting to public health centers to people at high risk of serious illness, at the discretion of prefectural governors.

However, as the central government has left it up to local governments as to how they support those who fall outside the scope of reporting, prefectural governors and others have been more cautious about introducing the new system. Only a few prefectures, including Miyagi and Ibaraki, will introduce the new system.

Since the central government intends to ask local governments to report the number of new cases as it has in the past, there is also concern that another procedure will be needed.

The central government said it is also considering introducing a “fixed-point” system in which only specific medical institutions would report patient information.

The aim of easing the burden on public health centers and other facilities is understandable. However, it is difficult to review one system after another while the pandemic is still not under control.

Swayed by the opinions of some experts, Kishida appears to feel pressured. It is hoped that he will assess the infection situation and calmly decide what measures to take.

In the wake of the fatal shooting of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the involvement of many politicians in the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification — widely known as the Unification Church — has come to light. Kishida said, “It is the basic policy of the Liberal Democratic Party to sever ties with the group.”

Antisocial activities by the organization, including its so-called “spiritual sales” tactic, are unacceptable. The government and the ruling and opposition parties should clarify the actual situation and take the necessary steps. However, it is hard to understand why they are preoccupied with the pursuit of whether politicians were interviewed by related organizations or sent congratulatory messages to gatherings of these organizations.

It is unreasonable that some opposition parties engage in criticism by linking the issue of the Unification Church with Abe’s state funeral. Loud opposition that “the state funeral would force the public to express their condolences” could put psychological pressure on people who genuinely want to express their condolences.

There is nothing unnatural about seeing off a person who bore the heavy responsibility of prime minister for a total of eight years and eight months at a state funeral.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 1, 2022)