Where EAST meets the Northwest
Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike speaks during an interview with The Associated
Press in Tokyo. The growing availability of coronavirus vaccines is a "ray of
hope" for hosting the Olympics next summer, Koike said Monday as Japan struggles
with a new surge in infections. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
Tokyo leader: Vaccines give hope for Olympics
By Mari Yamaguchi
The Associated Press
TOKYO (AP) ó The growing availability of coronavirus vaccines is a "ray of
hope" for hosting the Olympics next summer, Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike said
Monday as Japan struggles with a new surge in infections.
As host city, Tokyo will do "whatever it takes" to successfully achieve the
games, which were postponed for a year until next July because of the pandemic,
Koike said in an interview with The Associated Press.
"A few vaccines are now being distributed and are actually being used. Itís a
ray of hope," she said, citing the beginning of vaccinations last week in
Britain and the distribution of vaccines starting this week in the United
"I expect this will also become a ray of hope for the Olympics and
Paralympics," Koike said.
Japanís government has said it will secure enough vaccines to cover all
citizens by next June.
Even without a mandatory lockdown, Japan survived earlier coronavirus surges
better than the U.S. and most countries in Europe. It issued non-binding
stay-home and non-essential business closure requests in April and May and still
managed to slow the pace of infections.
During a second surge during the summer, Tokyo asked businesses to close
early and urged residents to wear masks and follow other basic preventive
"Japanese people are very cooperative, but by now they are getting complacent
about the situation after repeated similar requests," Koike said. "Iím worried."
Infections have climbed higher as the central government has delayed taking
stronger action to avoid further damaging the economy. Serious COVID-19 cases
are steadily rising, burdening hospitals and affecting medical care for other
patients, experts say.
Japan has reported 179,653 cases nationwide, including 2,585 deaths, as of
Sunday. Tokyo, where the daily tally exceeded 600 last week, reported 305 new
cases on Monday.
Koike said it is the central governmentís responsibility to protect citizensí
health and safety, but there is a perception gap between it and the Tokyo
government. "So I do all I can to protect the health and lives of the residents
in Tokyo," she said.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Sugaís government has pushed a discount travel
campaign to support the tourism industry, ignoring warnings from experts that
economic and social activity should be scaled down. On Monday, Suga finally
announced a decision to halt the GoTo tourism campaign nationwide from December
28 to January 11 during the holiday travel season.
Suga also announced plans to compensate bars that cooperate with
early-closure requests and provide special allowances for medical workers for
their contribution to the fight against the coronavirus.
Recent media surveys show the public support rating for Sugaís government has
plunged to about 50% from about 70% in the three months since he took office,
with many respondents citing concerns about his handling of the coronavirus.
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