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Japanese prime minister: Games will go on

by The Associated Press | January 19, 2021 at 2:08 a.m.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga delivers a policy speech during an ordinary Diet session at the upper house of parliament in Tokyo, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

OLYMPICS

Japanese prime minister: Games will go on

TOKYO -- Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga vowed Monday to get the pandemic under control and hold the already postponed Olympics this summer with ample coronavirus protection.

In a speech opening a new Parliament session, Suga said his government would revise laws to make anti-virus measures enforceable with penalties.

Early in the pandemic, Japan kept its virus caseload manageable with nonbinding requests for businesses to close or operate with social distancing and for people to stay home. But recent weeks have seen several highs in new cases per day, in part blamed on eased attitudes toward the anti-virus measures.

Suga said his government aimed to start vaccinations as early as late February.

"In order to restore sense of safety, I will get the coronavirus pandemic -- which has raged worldwide and is now severely affecting Japan -- under control as soon as possible," Suga said. "I will stand at the front line of the battle while I get the people's cooperation."

Suga pledged to achieve the Olympics as "a proof of human victory against the coronavirus."

"We will have full anti-infection measures in place and proceed with preparation with a determination to achieve the Games that can deliver hope and courage throughout the world," he said.

Recent media polls show about 80% of the Japanese public think the Olympics will not or should not happen.

Suga said the vaccine is the "clincher" of the pandemic and hopes to start vaccinations when Japan's Health Ministry is expected to approve the vaccine developed by Pfizer, one of three foreign suppliers to Japan, as early as late February.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga attends an ordinary Diet session at the upper house of parliament in Tokyo, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga attends an ordinary Diet session at the upper house of parliament in Tokyo, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga attends an ordinary Diet session at the upper house of parliament in Tokyo, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga attends an ordinary Diet session at the upper house of parliament in Tokyo, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, right, attends an ordinary Diet session at the upper house of parliament in Tokyo, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, right, attends an ordinary Diet session at the upper house of parliament in Tokyo, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
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