Japan PM’s Response to Coronavirus Outbreak Invites Criticism

Japanese Prime Minister (PM), Shinzo Abe was strongly criticized as his government has denied imposing or declare a state of national emergency amid the rising of the virus infection in Japan. Moreover, Abe’s latest policy of distributing two masks to every household to tackle the spread of the virus pandemic became a laughing stock on social media and critics were frustrated over Abe’s poor handling of the health crisis.

Abe’s Policy of Free Cloth Masks

Abe’s policy of supplying free cloth masks received heavy criticism on social media on Thursday, April 2, 2020, as his government ignored to consider the declaration of national emergency. Citing that Abe had no proper vision of how to handle the crisis, several citizens attacked the premier’s latest policy of using masks.  A commenter using the Twitter asked, “If your family has more than two people, what are you supposed to do – fight over them?”

Late on Wednesday, April 1, 2020, the PM announced that the cloth masks would be dispatched to help each of Japan’s more than 50 million households starting this week. Despite several experts had earlier warned that Japan was on the brink of a national health crisis, the PM replied in a statement on Wednesday that Japan was “barely holding the line” in its battle against the virus.

Abe said in the statement, “You can use soap to wash and re-use them, so this should be a good response to the sudden, huge demand for masks.” Some Twitter users reacted over Abe’s insensitive nature in the efforts of addressing the virus crisis questioning, “Is the Japanese government for real? This is a total waste of tax money.”

Earlier, Abe had faced criticism for his lack of will in the virus preventive measures. Critics called for a state of emergency as there was a piece of news last month about some people got confirmed of the virus infections who had mingled in the crowd gathering for a traditional cherry blossom viewing parties.

Japanese Opinion for National Emergency  

According to NHK public broadcaster, although the number of virus-infected cases was less compared with outbreaks in the United States, Europe, and China, coronavirus infections are on the rise in Japan – with more than 2,500 confirmed cases as of Thursday morning and 71 deaths.

Kyodo news agency reported that a record of more than 90 new cases appeared in Tokyo alone on Thursday, its biggest one-day increase. Meanwhile, opinion polls found the country was divided into the position of declaring a state of emergency.

Citing a little early for the emergency, Abe instead focused on inserting an emergency powers clause in the Japanese constitution. This week, the leader of the opposition Democratic Party for the People, Yuichiro Tamaki, called on Abe to declare a state of emergency after the Japan Medical Association reported crisis at hospitals in some regions, where beds for virus patients are full and doctors and nurses are getting infected.

Citing Abe’s priority was on the economic growth, Jesper Koll, the CEO of fund manager WisdomTree Japan, said, “Abe has always been ‘economy first’ and also added, “If you declare an emergency, it is definitely the end of ‘Abenomics’, the end of ‘economy first’ of Abe’s core policy.

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