FOCUS: "Sontaku" for Nikai Seen behind Japan Coronavirus Policy Delays

Politics Lifestyle

Tokyo, Jan. 12 (Jiji Press)--There are persisting views that delays in Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's measures to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus are partly due to "sontaku," or consideration, by him for ruling party heavyweight Toshihiro Nikai.

Although the government's apparent reluctance to implement strong measures for stopping the movement of people to curb infections has been chiefly because of its concerns about the adverse effects on the economy, the presence of Nikai, secretary-general of the Liberal Democratic Party and a major backer of the Suga administration, is making the stance look like it is not purely based on policies.

Members of the LDP research commission on tourism, including Nikai and his right-hand man, LDP Acting Secretary-General Motoo Hayashi, met with some 30 tourism industry representatives on Thursday, the day the government decided to declare a fresh novel coronavirus state of emergency for the Tokyo metropolitan area.

They agreed that the government's Go To Travel scheme, which has been halted nationwide due to concerns about tourists spreading the virus, should be resumed soon after the state of emergency is lifted. "Tourism is a key driver of the Japanese economy and a weapon to revitalize regional economies," Hayashi told reporters after the meeting.

The scheme, in which the government supports hotels and other travel-related businesses struggling amid the epidemic and cut travel costs for tourists, has been a core policy for Suga since the program began in July last year, when he was chief cabinet secretary under the administration of then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

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