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51% say Japan gov't is 'greatly responsible' for COVID-19 vaccine chaos: Mainichi poll

Syringes containing U.S. company Pfizer's vaccine are seen in this file photo. (Mainichi/Osamu Sukagawa)

TOKYO -- More than half of respondents to a poll by the Mainichi Shimbun and the Social Survey Research Center have answered that "the national government is greatly responsible" for the confusion surrounding coronavirus vaccine reservations in Japan.

    The survey, held nationally on May 22, also asked respondents about what they will do once they are able to receive a vaccine, and 63% said they will "get inoculated right away" -- only 1 percentage point higher from the previous poll carried out in April. Those who answered they will take a "wait-and-see approach" without rushing to receive a vaccine account for 28% of respondents -- a 5-point decrease from the previous poll -- while 6% of respondents said they will "not get vaccinated," up 2 points from the previous poll. One percent said they "do not know" (the same as in the previous poll).

    Although coronavirus vaccinations for health care workers began in February, and for senior citizens aged 65 or older in April, only 3% answered that they "already received a vaccine."

    Regarding the state of confusion surrounding vaccinations, such as difficulties in making reservations, 51% of respondents said that "the national government is greatly responsible," larger in number than the group that deemed local governments as significantly responsible, which accounted for 13% of respondents. Meanwhile, 35% said that "confusion to a certain degree is unavoidable." The Japanese government plans to complete coronavirus inoculations for the elderly by the end of July, but it is unclear whether this will be realized, and it seems that criticism over this disarray is being directed at the national government.

    Regarding coronavirus countermeasures carried out by local municipalities, 31% said they approved of them, while 36% expressed disapproval, and 34% said they are "not sure." While figures cannot be compared simply as survey methods differ, in a poll conducted in January this year, 38% of respondents said they approve of coronavirus countermeasures administered by their prefectural governments, while 31% expressed disapproval and another 31% answered they were "not sure."

    To a question asking individuals if they think the areas where they live have risks of a collapse in the health care system, 45% responded that they think there are such fears, surpassing the 32% who answered in the negative. Those who said they "do not know" accounted for 23% of the total. Amid the spread of coronavirus variants that are highly transmissible, hospital bed occupancy rates in many prefectures have reached Stage 4 -- which indicates an "explosion of infections" -- in the 4-point scale of severity created by the Japanese government's coronavirus countermeasures subcommittee, and there have been ongoing strains on Japan's health care system.

    Among the respondents to the survey, support for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party was 29%, a 2-percentage-point drop from the previous poll. The approval rating of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan was 10%, down 1 point from the previous poll. Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party) received 6% support (8% in previous poll), while the Japanese Communist Party gained 5% support (4% in previous poll). As for approval ratings for the LDP's junior coalition partner Komeito, Reiwa Shinsengumi, and the Democratic Party for the People, the figures stayed at 4%, 2%, and 1%, respectively. Forty-one percent of respondents said they do not support a political party, up 5 points from the previous survey.

    (Japanese original by Nanae Ito, Political News Department)

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