Kishida unveils plan to set up pandemic crisis control unit

PTI | Tokyo | Updated: 15-06-2022 19:05 IST | Created: 15-06-2022 18:20 IST
Kishida unveils plan to set up pandemic crisis control unit
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. (Photo Credit - Reuters) Image Credit: ANI
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Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced plans Wednesday to establish an infectious disease crisis management agency to better prepare for future pandemics.

Kishida, marking the end of the current parliamentary session and weeks ahead of the July 10 national elections, said that Japan has managed to significantly slow COVID-19 infections, but it is still too early to "put our guards down.'' He said there's a need to "carefully walk to the path toward returning to ordinary lives'' as Japan gradually resumes social and business activity as well as tourism.

Kishida, who had low public expectations when he took office in October and recorded unimpressive 40% support ratings, has since steadily gained popularity to above 60%, buoyed by an easing of the public's infection worries and growing concern over the Ukraine crisis.

His plan to establish the infectious disease crisis management agency was in response to criticism that the government had been unprepared and lacked a centralized command center to handle COVID-19, and was hampered by bureaucratic divisions in allocating hospital beds, testing centers and rolling out vaccines.

Kishida said Japan's two main infection disease research institutes will be unified into one to be overseen by the Health Ministry and serve as a Japanese version of the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

He also repeated his pledge to bolster Japan's diplomatic and security roles to contribute to international peace at a time it is critically shaken by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Japan has been in lockstep with the United States and Europe in sanctioning Russia and supporting Ukraine, and has also stepped up its cooperation with NATO. Kishida on Wednesday announced his plan to attend a NATO summit later this month as the first Japanese leader to do so.

Kishida, during summits with U.S. President Joe Biden and other regional leaders last month in Tokyo, has already pledged significant strengthening of Japan's military capability and budget.

He said that protecting lives and turning around the economy was his promise since he took office, and that "I will fulfil my responsibility as prime minister by keeping the promises.'' Citing the pandemic and Russia's war on Ukraine that triggered global price increases, Kishida said the world is "at a historic turning point" and the upcoming election is "for the voters to make their judgment over how Japan deals with the challenges." Kishida also pledged to take measures to mitigate energy and food price hikes stemming from the Ukraine crisis.

The war has caused fossil fuel shortages for resource-scarce Japan, he said, vowing to maximize the development of renewables and accelerate a restart of nuclear reactors, whose resumption has been delayed by stricter post-Fukushima disaster safety standards and lingering anti-nuclear public sentiment.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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