Japan PM receives 1st dose of Pfizer vaccine

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga apologised on Wednesday after lawmakers from his ruling coalition visited night clubs despite his government’s call for people to avoid unnecessary outings to curb the spread of COVID-19. FILE PHOTO: Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga speaks during a meeting of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infection control headquarters at the prime minister's office in Tokyo, Japan January 22, 2021. Kazuhiro Nogi/Pool via REUTERS The news is another headache for Suga whose approval rating has tumbled due to dissatisfaction with his handling of the pandemic, which critics have called too slow and inconsistent. “I’m terribly sorry that this happened when we are asking people not to eat out after 8 p.m. and to avoid non-essential, non-urgent outings,” Suga told parliament. “Each lawmaker should behave to gain the public’s understanding.” ADVERTISEMENT Japan this month issued a state of emergency in Tokyo and other areas to tame a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases. The measure includes a request for restaurants and bars to close by 8 p.m. although there are currently no penalties for non-compliance. “My behaviour was careless at a time when we are asking people to be patient,” Jun Matsumoto, a senior lawmaker from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, told reporters. Matsumoto was speaking following a Daily Shincho magazine report that he had visited two night clubs in Tokyo’s posh Ginza district after dining at an Italian restaurant last Monday. ADVERTISEMENT Kiyohiko Toyama, a lawmaker from the coalition’s junior partner Komeito, also apologised after tabloid Shukan Bunshun reported he had visited a high-end night club in Ginza until late last Friday. Twitter users voiced their frustration. “It is just a matter of time before public anger explodes. I don’t want a blanket cash-payout of 100,000 yen ($965), I want them to quit! ” wrote one user. “They are really stupid. Don’t they think about what they are doing and how the public sees them? If they don’t, they are unqualified to represent the public,” said another.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Tuesday received the first dose of a Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine at a hospital in Tokyo, in a bid to reassure about the safety of the jab.

Suga will head to the US in April for a meeting with President Joe Biden and in doing so making the Prime Minister the first foreign leader to meet the latter in person, reports Xinhua news agency.

Suga will receive his second dose in three weeks.

Initially, the Prime Minister said he would wait until mid-April when the national vaccination stage would reach people aged 65 or older, after all of the country’s healthcare workers had been vaccinated.

After the people aged 65s and older, those with underlying conditions and working in elderly care facilities will be eligible to be inoculated.

The general public will be the last in line to receive their jabs.

Suga was keen to have his jab in front of the cameras in light of there being some reluctance among the Japanese population about being inoculated.

A survey conducted by Kyodo News showed that only 63.1 per cent of respondents wanted to be vaccinated.

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