TOKYO: Popular ruling-party politician KONO Taro blamed the opposition for Japan’s slow uptake of vaccines in the fight against the coronavirus.
“Japan was two or three months behind the US and Europe in vaccinations, but this was because the opposition parties were demanding that Japan had to conduct its own clinical trials over and above those conducted outside of Japan,” Kono said. “When Prime Minister Suga said he would finish vaccinating the elderly by the end of July, the opposition camp said it would be impossible, but we did it.”
Kono said that the opposition parties are keeping quiet about vaccines now because the vaccination program in Japan is proceeding smoothly.
Kono, who was in charge of vaccines under Suga, was speaking at the Meguro Ginza shopping district on Monday to offer electoral support to Fumiaki Matsumoto, a former deputy minister of the Cabinet Office. Japan will have a general election for the House of Representatives on October 31.
Kono, now the head of the Liberal Democratic Party’s Public Relations Department, is the most popular politician in Japan and attracts big crowds wherever he speaks. On Monday, he casually talked to shopkeepers and people shopping.
“I would like to ask your support for Matsumoto Fumiaki, the LDP and [government coalition partner] New Komeito,” Kono said. “We hope that you appreciate what the LDP and New Komeito have done. The opposition parties have teamed up with the Communist Party. One of the Communist Party’s election pledges is to scrap the Japan-US security. Now, how do we stop the alliance and defend the Senkaku Islands, and how do we protect Okinawa when China invades Taiwan?”
Kono said the election was about “freedom and democracy.”