81% surveyed in Japan want better medical care to handle pandemic

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Improving the medical system to deal with the novel coronavirus should be the government’s priority, said over 80% of the people who responded to a survey jointly conducted by Waseda University and The Yomiuri Shimbun.

The survey asked respondents to select up to three from nine options regarding measures the government should focus on to handle COVID-19 and 81% selected “improving the medical system,” closely followed by 77% who chose “developing vaccines and therapeutic medicine.”

The third choice was “improving legislation to enable compulsory restrictions on people’s activities” at 33%, followed by 27% who selected “providing information to the public.”

The survey was conducted in November through early December, when the number of people infected with the novel coronavirus had decreased significantly, yet there remained a strong desire for government measures to protect life and health.

Respondents were also asked whether they agreed or disagreed with four statements on the virus. The survey found that 80% agreed that “The central government and local governments should prioritize infection prevention measures, even if it means sacrificing some economic activities.” This percentage has remained high since the 2020 October-November survey when it was 76%.

By age group, the percentage of respondents 18-39 who agreed with the above statement in the latest survey was 71%; for those 40-59 it was 76%; and for those 60 and over, it was 88%.

Regarding the statement that “The central government and local governments could be authorized to forcibly ban residents from leaving their homes in order to prevent the spread of the disease,” 68% agreed with it, almost unchanged from the 69% recorded last year.

As for the statement that “The central government is largely responsible for the spread of the novel coronavirus,” 54% agreed. By political affiliation, 65% of supporters of opposition parties agreed with the statement as did 59% of independent voters, while 42% of ruling bloc supporters agreed.

The last statement was, “Individuals hold great responsibility for being infected with the novel coronavirus,” and 54% of respondents agreed, compared to 46% last year. While 62% ruling bloc supporters agreed, both opposition party supporters and independents were divided on this statement.

The survey was conducted through the postal system on 3,000 randomly selected eligible voters from 250 locations across the country. The questionnaires were mailed Nov. 1, and 71%, or 2,115, were returned with valid responses by the deadline of Dec.7.