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Tokyo is too laid-back amid COVID-19 pandemic

Posted August. 10, 2020 07:55,   

Updated August. 13, 2020 12:16


Fast Retailing CEO Tadashi Yanai, the founder of casual fashion brand UNIQLO, criticized Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in his interview with the Mainichi Shimbun on Saturday, saying, “The government merely advises citizens to stay home. It may think that the pandemic will pass just as a typhoon.” He mentioned Prime Minister Abe’s lack of leadership as the daily number of newly confirmed cases reaches 1,400 to 1,500 across Japan where COVID-19 has spread further.

CEO Yanai emphasized how important it is to cooperate with neighboring nations including South Korea and the United States, pointing out that the Japanese government remains aloof from its neighbors. It stubbornly tried to stick to Japanese-made PPE including face masks, he said. “Such lack of understanding of the globalized era makes the status quo way worse.”

As the Japanese government pushed the “Go to Travel” initiative to encourage citizens to travel around the nation and revitalize the domestic market, CEO Yanai criticized that it only increases risks of the virus spreading further. “High-ranking officials do not take any action but pussyfoot,” he said. Last October, the CEO shared the same comment on government ministers’ incompetence. Although having been born in Yamaguchi Prefecture, Prime Minister Abe’s hometown, CEO Yanai has publicly expressed his critical view of the administration. Regarding Tokyo’s export control, he criticized that it is an absurd idea to gear up to fight hard against Seoul.

A government official who is close to Prime Minister Abe regrettably said to a reporter that the Korean quarantine system is commendable, lamenting that Seoul and Tokyo did not cooperate on quarantine efforts.

Although the relationship between Seoul and Tokyo has soured without any exit from the current stalemate due to controversial issues such as disposal of property of businesses involved in forced draft and closure of the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), there is a view shared across Japan that the difficulties should be overcome. Then Nihon Keizai Shimbun wrote an editorial on Sunday that South Korea and Japan should find a solution to diplomatic issues learning a lesson from “Forced landing of love,” a South Korean TV series well received by Japanese viewers. The Japanese news paper alsoadvised both the nations to look squarely at their issues and leave any cause and excuse behind so that they can reach a solution just as Japanese viewers have felt a sense of closeness to North Korean citizens.

Given that the Japanese government has no option but to stand on the sidelines without any fundamental solution in mind while 1,500 and more are adding up to the number of COVID-19 cases every day, it may not be South Korea but Japan that has seen any harm due to anti-Korea sentiment across Japan.