July 14 2022
TOKYO – Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Thursday that “maximum caution” is warranted as medical experts warn of an “explosive” surge in COVID-19 cases in Japan, but no new restrictions on people’s movements are planned for now.
Speaking at a press conference, Kishida said the government will accelerate the vaccination drive, with about 8 million health care and nursing care workers targeted for fourth shots.
Japan has seen the number of newly confirmed coronavirus cases surging in recent days ahead of an extended weekend from this Saturday and a summer holiday season.
“Coronavirus infections are spreading nationwide and the number is increasing in all age brackets, especially among young people,” Kishida said, raising concern about the highly transmissible BA.5 strain becoming dominant.
Still, he stressed the need to keep the economy going while taking precautionary steps against COVID-19 at the same time.
“We will first use our strengthened (COVID-19) response capability fully and we are not thinking about imposing new restrictions on people’s behavior at this point,” the prime minister said.
The resurgence comes as Japan has been relaxing its border controls that were criticized at home and abroad for being too stringent. Japan still maintains a daily entry cap but has started accepting foreign tourists on package tours.
Kishida said the government will weigh various factors such as demand, the infection situations at home and abroad, and border control measures taken by other nations in deciding whether to take further easing steps.
“We are not considering strengthening border control steps now but we will continue to monitor developments carefully,” he said.
During the press conference, Kishida said the government will continue to try mitigating the blow from accelerating inflation in Japan, largely driven by higher energy, raw material and food prices, adding that the government is not hesitant about using fiscal spending for the purpose.