Kishida unveils plan to set up pandemic crisis control unit

Jun 15, 2022, 5:40 AM | Updated: 7:24 am
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida delivers a speech at his official residence, Wednesday, June ...

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida delivers a speech at his official residence, Wednesday, June 15, 2022, in Tokyo. (Yoshikazu Tsuno/Pool Photo via AP)

(Yoshikazu Tsuno/Pool Photo via AP)

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced plans Wednesday to establish an infectious disease crisis management agency to better prepare for future pandemics.

Kishida, marking the end of the current parliamentary session, and with weeks to go until July 10 national elections, said Japan has managed to significantly slow COVID-19 infections, but it is still too early to “put our guards down.” He said there’s a need to “carefully walk the path toward returning to ordinary lives” as Japan gradually resumes social and business activities as well as tourism.

Kishida, who faced low public expectations when he took office in October with unimpressive 40% support ratings, has steadily gained popularity to more than 60%, buoyed by an easing of infection worries and growing concern over the Ukraine crisis.

His plan to establish the infectious disease crisis management agency was in response to criticism that the government was unprepared and lacked a centralized command center to handle COVID-19, and was hampered by bureaucratic divisions in allocating hospital beds, setting up testing centers and rolling out vaccines.

Kishida said Japan’s two main infection disease research institutes will be combined into one that will be overseen by the Health Ministry and serve as a Japanese version of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

He also repeated a pledge to bolster Japan’s diplomatic and security roles to contribute to peace at a time the international order is critically shaken by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Japan has been in lockstep with the United States and Europe in sanctioning Russia and supporting Ukraine, and has also stepped up cooperation with NATO amid growing concern about China’s assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region and growing tensions around Taiwan, the self-governing island that Beijing claims as its own. Kishida said he will continue to urge China to peacefully resolve the Taiwan dispute through dialogue.

Kishida announced on Wednesday that he will attend a NATO summit later this month, becoming the first Japanese leader to do so.

New South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol has also been invited and will reportedly attend the June 29-30 summit in Madrid, prompting speculation of a first in-person meeting on the sidelines between the leaders of the two countries, whose ties have been strained by disputes over wartime history.

Kishida said nothing has been decided, though he acknowledged the importance of communication.

Kishida, during meetings with U.S. President Joe Biden and other regional leaders last month in Tokyo, has already pledged a significant strengthening of Japan’s military capability and budget.

He said that protecting lives in the pandemic and turning around the economy have been his promise since taking office, and that “I will fulfil my responsibility as prime minister by keeping the promises.”

Citing the pandemic and Russia’s war in Ukraine that has triggered global price increases, Kishida said the world is “at a historic turning point” and next month’s election is a chance “for voters to make a judgment on how Japan deals with the challenges.”

Kishida also pledged to take measures to reduce energy and food price hikes stemming from the Ukraine crisis.

The war has caused fossil fuel shortages for resource-scarce Japan, he said, vowing to maximize development of renewables and accelerate a restart of nuclear reactors, reversing the government’s earlier plan to eventually phase out atomic energy. The restart of halted reactors has been slow due to stricter post-Fukushima nuclear disaster safety standards and lingering anti-nuclear public sentiment.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

4 bears killed in Alaska campground reserved for homeless

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska wildlife officials have killed four black bears in a campground recently reserved for people in Anchorage who are homeless after the city’s largest shelter was closed. Employees from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game on Tuesday killed a sow and her two cubs and another adult bear that was […]
18 hours ago
Yesenia Hernandez, granddaughter to Nicolas Toledo, who was killed during Monday's Highland Park., ...
Associated Press

‘Taken too soon’: Remembering Highland Park shooting victims

CHICAGO (AP) — Two of the victims of a July 4 parade massacre in a Chicago suburb left behind a 2-year-old son. Another was staying with family in Illinois after he was injured in car wreck about two months earlier. For some, it was a tradition. They were avid travelers, members of their synagogue and […]
18 hours ago
Associated Press

Ex-‘Cheer’ star Harris gets 12 years for seeking photos, sex

CHICAGO (AP) — A federal judge Wednesday sentenced Jerry Harris, a former star of the Netflix documentary series “Cheer,” to 12 years in prison for coercing teenage boys to send him obscene photos and videos of themselves and soliciting sex from minors at cheerleading competitions. U.S. District Judge Manish Shah also ordered that the sentence […]
18 hours ago
Associated Press

California woman fakes cancer, forges notes to avoid prison

SAN DIEGO (AP) — One note submitted to the federal judge sentencing a 38-year-old California woman for embezzlement claimed that a biopsy had revealed “cancerous cells” in her uterus. Another indicated that she was undergoing a surgical procedure, and her cancer had spread to the cervix. Yet another letter warned she “cannot be exposed to […]
18 hours ago
Associated Press

Virgin Galactic taps Boeing subsidiary to build motherships

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Virgin Galactic announced Wednesday that it is partnering with a Boeing subsidiary to manufacture the next generation of the twin-fuselage aircraft used to carry aloft the space tourism company’s rocket ship. Aurora Flight Sciences will build two of the special carrier planes at its facilities in Mississippi and West Virginia. Final […]
18 hours ago
Helena Kavanaugh, right, stands with friends Addison Schwan, center, and Charlie Shookman after Kav...
Associated Press

Police: Parade shooting suspect contemplated 2nd shooting

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. (AP) — The man charged with killing seven people at an Independence Day parade confessed to police that he unleashed a hail of bullets from a rooftop in suburban Chicago and then fled to the Madison, Wisconsin, area, where he contemplated shooting up an event there, authorities said Wednesday. The suspect turned […]
18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
...
Day & Night Air

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
...
Arizona Division of Problem Gambling

Arizona Division of Problem Gambling provides exclusion solution for young sports bettors

Sports betting in Arizona opened a new world to young adults, one where putting down money on games was as easy as sending a text message.
Kishida unveils plan to set up pandemic crisis control unit