VOX POPULI: A half-baked look at the government’s COVID response led to a bad report

A “fast movie” is an illegal online video in which a feature length film has been edited up to approximately 10 minutes in length.

The practice of fast forwarding movies while watching them is said to be a growing trend among young people today, who apparently want to see as many movies as possible in a limited time and always know how each one ends.

One of their reasons for doing so is to follow what their friends are talking about, according to the book “Eiga wo Hayaokuri de Miru Hitotachi” (People who fast forward the movies they watch), by Toyoshi Inada.

Antithetical to any act of deep appreciation for a movie, it kind of reminded me of how a panel of experts reviewed the government’s response to COVID-19.

A “quick look” was the impression I got of how the review was done.

According to Shigeru Omi, Japan’s top infectious disease authority who headed the government’s advisory committee on COVID-19, the committee questioned him for “only seven minutes”.

Not only was it incredibly brief, but the panel didn’t even interview then-Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga or any of his relevant ministers.

As expected, the final report turned out to be lacking in substance.

There was no mention of the government’s disastrously ridiculous Go To Travel campaign, the operation of which was likened to pressing the accelerator and brake pedals simultaneously.

The report also does not explain why there are not enough hospital beds.

A thorough review of the government’s response to COVID-19 is imperative if the nation is to properly prepare for the next threat of infections.

And if the government’s sense of commitment remains lukewarm, then the Diet should launch its own investigation, if only to remind the government of its negligence.

After the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, an accident investigation commission was set up not by the government, but also by the Diet, and the then prime minister and other relevant parties were questioned.

Why can’t we do the same now?

The July 10 election campaign for the Upper House kicks off today.

In addition to issues of immediate concern such as soaring property prices, I would also like the candidates to discuss Japan’s long-term health care policy and other issues.

The attitude of “since the danger is over, we can simply forget about it” has no place in the Upper House, sometimes described as a “bastion of common sense”.

–The Asahi Shimbun, June 22

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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that covers a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran writers from Asahi Shimbun, the column offers helpful perspectives and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.

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