TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Tuesday apologized for the strained situation facing the country’s medical system amid the new coronavirus crisis, such as high occupancy rates of hospital beds for COVID-19 patients.
“People are feeling anxious,” Suga told a meeting of the Budget Committee of the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of the Diet, Japan’s parliament. “I feel very sorry about the situation as the leader of this country.”
At the meeting, Kiyomi Tsujimoto of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan called on the prime minister to divert for medical support purposes funds earmarked in the government’s proposed third fiscal 2020 supplementary budget for its Go To Travel tourism promotion campaign, which has been suspended nationwide due to the resurgence of the virus.
But Suga rejected the request, saying that the government has secured necessary funds for supporting the medical sector.
He also reiterated his resolve to hold the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics this summer as planned. “We want to make preparations as we lay out the framework for thoroughly implementing countermeasures against the coronavirus and ensuring a safe and secure environment” for the games, the prime minister said.
Tsujimoto asked whether the government is considering holding the Tokyo Games without spectators. Seiko Hashimoto, minister for the games, said the government will give consideration to the matter through this spring by taking into account the infection situation in and outside Japan.