Suga Opens Ordinary Diet Session with Vow to End COVID-19 Crisis

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga (right: Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Aso, left: Foreign Minister Motegi).

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga vowed Monday to make every effort to be prepared for Japan’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout, in his policy speech to mark the convocation of a 150-day Diet session that will run through June 16.

Suga’s first policy speech since his inauguration was delivered at plenary sessions of the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors. In the address, Suga positioned the envisaged digital agency as a “symbol of reform.” The new agency, scheduled to be established in September, will drive the promotion of digitization of the entire country, he said.

The establishment of the digital agency, which will serve as the command center of the nation’s digital reforms, would “make operations more efficient and improve services for residents,” Suga said.

Suga began the speech by saying, “We will protect the lives and health of the people and contain the novel coronavirus as soon as possible,” and the country “will get out of Stage 4 [the worst condition of infections] as soon as possible” by thoroughly taking measures such as requesting restaurants and bars to shorten their business hours. A state of emergency has been declared for 11 prefectures.

On vaccines, Suga said the government would “ensure a complete system to be ready for vaccinations to start by late February.” Suga did not touch on his pet theory of “balancing infection prevention and economic activities” in the speech.

As for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, Suga stressed that the nation “will prepare for the Games, while taking all possible measures against infections.”