Japan PM vows to tackle virus as public support plunges

TOKYO (AFP) – Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga pledged yesterday to tackle surging coronavirus cases and restore normal life “as soon as possible” as polls showed plunging support for his government.

Suga, who was speaking at the opening of a new Parliament session, has only been in office since September, but has seen approval ratings nosedive over his government’s handling of a third wave of infections.

The latest wave in Japan and abroad has also cast doubt on whether the pandemic-postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics can go ahead this year, but Suga repeated he was still committed to holding the Games as “proof of mankind’s victory over the virus”.

“To protect the lives and health of the Japanese people… I will get the situation back to normal as soon as possible,” Suga said in a policy address to the Diet as it opened for a 150-day session.

The greater Tokyo region and several other parts of Japan are under a virus state of emergency set to last until February 7, but the government has been accused of waiting too long to impose the measure and sending mixed messaging on the situation.