Suga has pledged to ramp up vaccinations in the meantime.
Two weeks ago, the Japanese government declared a renewed state of emergency in the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This new state affected multiple major prefectures including Tokyo, Osaka, Hyogo, and Kyoto and imposed various safety restrictions. The goal was for the state to be “short and powerful” in the interest of making things safer in time for the rapidly approaching Olympics. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite enough, leading the government to extend the state through the end of May.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga officially announced today that the state of emergency will continue in all of the affected prefectures until May 31. The original state was supposed to expire this coming Tuesday, but with the increasing wave of new coronavirus infections, as well as the Olympics still scheduled for July, Suga has decided to play it safe.
In the meantime, Japan’s government will be placing an even greater emphasis on COVID-19 vaccinations, with the goal being to administer at least 1 million shots per day.
“Vaccines are the key to fighting the ongoing infections,” Suga told reporters. He explained that “it will be crucial to accelerate vaccinations” in order to combat the newly developing coronavirus variants that have been welling up in his country.
— Nikkei Asia (@NikkeiAsia) May 7, 2021
“With a target of 1 million doses per day, the government will do everything in its power to support local governments in completing two doses of vaccinations for all elderly people who wish to receive them by the end of July.”
Suga hasn’t set a specific date for when he wants this level vaccination to be achieved by, but Japan will have a surplus of shots coming in the near future. New deals have already been sealed with Pfizer, Moderna, and Novavax to purchase 50 million shots by September and 200 million by 2022. As far as the Olympics are concerned, Suga still believes the event can be held, and has even offered to donate vaccines to Olympic athletes.
“It is possible to hold a safe and secure event while protecting the lives and health of our citizens through thorough measures,” he said.