Frustration in Japan as leader pushes Olympics despite virus
TOKYO (AP) — A full-page newspaper ad says Japanese will be “killed by politics” because the government is forcing them to endure the pandemic without vaccines. More than 300,000 people have signed a petition calling for the Tokyo Olympics to be canceled. And a swimming star has faced pressure to drop out of the games.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, meanwhile, has caused anger and confusion by repeatedly vowing to skeptical lawmakers that the Olympics will be safe, even as some hospitals struggle to find beds for the sick and dying and a state of emergency was extended on Wednesday to more places in Japan.
Only 1% of the public has been fully vaccinated, even as millions of doses sit unused in freezers, and there’s deepening frustration over Suga’s request for people to endure more emergency virus measures amid ramped-up planning for the resource-draining Olympics, which are to start in about two months.
Last month, Suga declared a third state of emergency in Osaka, the center of the current surge in virus cases, as well as in Tokyo and two other areas. That has since been extended through May 31. On Wednesday, two more areas, Aichi in central Japan and Fukuoka in the south, were placed under the emergency measures.
“No vaccine. No medication. Are we supposed to fight with bamboo spears? We’ll be killed by politics if things remain unchanged,” said the critical ad, which showed an illustration of a red coronavirus symbol on a World War II-era photo of Japanese children practicing to fight with “naginata” sword-shaped sticks.
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