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Asia Minute: Japan's Uncertainty in Health and Politics

AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko

Japan has joined a growing list of countries trying to balance pandemic safety with economic resilience.

The country’s biggest business lobby says travelers who are vaccinated should be exempt from quarantine.

Keidanren also says it’s time for the government to start issuing travel visas to foreigners who have proof of vaccination.

Those adjustments were among the proposals the head of the business group presented to the prime minister on Monday — while also acknowledging the primary goal now remains to reduce stress on the medical system.

Current emergency measures in place in Tokyo and elsewhere are scheduled to end this coming Sunday — but the government may extend them.

The number of new cases in Tokyo fell below 1,000 on Monday for the first time since July 19 — although the seven-day average remains above 2,400.

Health officials remain cautious about the capacity of the medical care system, especially in Japan’s largest cities.

And there’s another level of uncertainty: the government itself.

Last Friday, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced he would not run for re-election as head of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party when his term ends at the end of this month.

That means a new prime minister — and internal party campaigning officially gets underway a week from Friday.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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