politics

How COVID response sank Suga

51 Comments
By Kyoko Hasegawa and Sara Hussein

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51 Comments

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Compared to Europe and America death and infection numbers in Japan are very low, Japan has got to be doing something right.

-16 ( +13 / -29 )

That photo says it all - scared, timid, ineffectual. LOL.

18 ( +26 / -8 )

It takes a very special individual to helm the Japanese government now. They need to choose wisely.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

He was forced into an embarrassing U-turn over the so-called Go To Travel campaign -- and even the reversal was half-hearted, with the government first saying regions could opt out and then abruptly suspending the project altogether in December.

The specter of a pandemic Olympics also hung over Suga's term, with the prime minister insisting throughout that he was committed to hosting the Games.

And even as other developed countries began rolling out their vaccine programs in December and January, Japan moved slowly and cautiously.

GoToTravel, Olympics and Vaccines delay, why anyone think his approval will be higher?

https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2021/08/7280263b1882-breaking-news-suga-cabinets-approval-rate-drops-to-record-low-318.html

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Looking like one of death’s minions doesn’t help

11 ( +15 / -4 )

I had no issues w the first two state of emergencies, they were effective and necessary.

When the vaccines were completed they should have been the primary focus from day one but vaccinations weren't a priority until late spring/summer.

The Suga administration wasted valuable time focusing on meaningless measures instead of taking action to get millions of people vaccinated as soon as possible.

15 ( +18 / -3 )

He was screwed from the day he decided that the Olympics take precedent over the people. Everything kept going downhill from there!

20 ( +22 / -2 )

One "nice" thing I can say, at least he has great taste in his clothes! That's an Okinawa "kariyushi" shirt!

I'll bet though that he didnt buy it, as the one he is wearing costs well over 50,000 yen, in fact if it is the one that I think it is, it's probably closer to 100,000 yen per shirt! (Taxpayers money!)

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

SA~SUGA~!!

2 ( +6 / -4 )

It was the disgraceful’wait and see’ approach and the ugly view that Japanese people somehow how have DNA that is hugely different from everyone else when, in fact, it’s not that different after all

20 ( +24 / -4 )

And even as other developed countries began rolling out their vaccine programs in December and January, Japan moved slowly and cautiously.

And who slowed the vaccine rollout by demanding domestic trials? The LDP? Oh, how quickly we forget, folks. That was the work of the opposition parties.

In fact, in June Taro Kono lamented ever agreeing to the opposition’s insistence on domestic trials: “If I could go back all the way to the beginning, I would have probably scrapped the clinical trial that we did.”

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Asiaman7Today  07:49 am JST

And who slowed the vaccine rollout by demanding domestic trials? The LDP? Oh, how quickly we forget, folks. That was the work of the opposition parties.

The LDP must have caved in to their demands, and with majorities in both houses of the Diet why would they see any need to do anything the opposition parties wanted?

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Simon Foston07:54 am JST

The LDP must have caved in to [the opposition’s] demands …

Exactly. At the time, the LDP thought the media would pound the government if any accidents happened without domestic trials. So they agreed.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Clueless-ness and dithering sank Suga.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Koizumi Jr. would be a better PM. Not really a fan of him but he's got his father's charisma and family name to back it and that seems all it takes to last as PM for more than a year. And he's relatively young. Get someone in office under the age of 60.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

Suga looks like a feeble, brow-beaten man in the picture, whooped. I don't blame him for not seeking re-election. Best wishes to him.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Compared to Europe and America death and infection numbers in Japan are very low, Japan has got to be doing something right.

Agreed, but no thanks to governmental measures. I suspect the primary reason is that Japanese are generally healthier than many Americans and Europeans.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Compared to Europe and America death and infection numbers in Japan are very low, Japan has got to be doing something right

We won't know that for sure until we see the pneumonia death toll, as we all know they are not testing elderly people who died from pneumonia and passed away at nursing care facilities (which is apparently ridiculously high compared to other years) Hopefully we get rid of LDP and the main opposition party sheds some light around what has been going on let's hope they (LDP) don't start a document shredding party before the handover.

If you can and don't vote against the LDP then that is a mandate to let them Govern.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Asiaman7Today  08:02 am JST

Exactly. At the time, the LDP thought the media would pound the government if any accidents happened without domestic trials. So they agreed.

That makes the LDP just as responsible as the opposition for the delay in the vaccine roll-outs then, if not more so. Whatever the opposition wanted, it was the government's final call and it would appear from what you're saying that the government was too scared of the media to make the right one.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

That makes the LDP just as responsible as the opposition for the delay in the vaccine roll-outs then, if not more so. Whatever the opposition wanted, it was the government's final call and it would appear from what you're saying that the government was too scared of the media to make the right one.

It's a case of you are darned if you do and darned if you don't. If there had been no clinical trials and anything bad happened you would be calling for head to roll for refusing to do the "right thing" and conduct clinical trials.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Suga looks like a feeble, brow-beaten man in the picture, whooped. I don't blame him for not seeking re-election. Best wishes to him.

I was a surprised to see him take the job in the first place. He was always the sort who liked to work in the background as the power behind the throne if you will. He never seemed comfortable in the spotlight. That says nothing about his basic competence. He was thrust into a position he was not suited for. I admire how he worked his way up from such humble roots, working his way through a less prestigious university and knocking on doors to earn his early political offices. He filled a need when he was needed and it takes a bit of humility to step aside like this. I have a high regard for him. Now everyone can give me negative votes, but there you are.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Desert TortoiseToday  08:45 am JST

....and anything bad happened you would be calling for head to roll for refusing to do the "right thing" and conduct clinical trials.

Would I? Didn't know that.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Simon Foston 08:44 am JST

That makes the LDP just as responsible as the opposition for the delay in the vaccine roll-outs then, if not more so. Whatever the opposition wanted, it was the government's final call and it would appear from what you're saying that the government was too scared of the media to make the right one.

Definitely. The LDP is the ruling party and took ownership of the miscue. But would we have been better off if the opposition parties were running the show? Not likely.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Despite the lethargic start, vaccination picked up fast, with 47 percent of the population now fully vaccinated. And even without strict lockdowns, the country's death toll remains comparatively low at around 16,000.

Covid itself is not directly responsible for Suga's downfall. Japan has survived better than other major countries in terms of both cases and death toll. For example, the "reopening" UK has reported 42,076 new daily cases with 121 deaths (Sep 3). Boris Johnson, infected with covid himself, still remains in office.

As for vax rollout, Japan will soon outpace the US, perhaps in a week to come. Meanwhile like Australia "zero-covid" model societies are now suffering local outbreaks and slower rollout. Lockdowns seem to become unbearable and unpopular.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

I am not a Koizumi fan neither, but Japan needs a young man in power, that has new ideas and is less part of clans and old political thinking. All other candidates will all be depending on relationships within the party and lack independence

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Suga isn't populist, and the least ambitious for power among LDP top politicians, past and present. Suga fails as he rarely listened and responded to the people's will. Though such an un-populist attitude may be working or even necessary to push drastic reforms, this time it has gone wrong, in completely opposite direction.

Favoritism for Olympics and particular interested groups at the expense of wider public interests is also a major blow to the administration. Japan's critical public discourse has more to do with unfair treatment and cheating by the privileged few rather than with general covid fear or public heath concern.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I'm no fan of Suga, but my experience is very few managers in Japanese organizations ever seem willing to take full responsibility for actions of any sort, especially those actions that resulted in creating problems like we have seen come about from the poor response to dealing with he pandemic. Few Japanese leaders are willing to say 'the buck stops here', so shouldn't blame be spread and shared among all those in Suga's LDP faction.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

No surprise since Suga was only a pawn in their game. The next, more pertinent question is what'll it take to sink the LDP? The next costume change of Covid and the usual suspects: commuting salary men and women, maskless izakaya customers and young night revellers?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Well, that was quick…

Japan has really been bumbling their way through this pandemic. Very sad state of leadership there currently.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

The "Go to Travel" campaign was the greatest example ever of a mixed message...

On the one hand "Stay Home" on the other ... but if you do travel, we will pay 50%!

Mind boggling incompetence.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

The issue I see how the " Covid issue sank Suga" is Suga's mistake of not focusing on communication skills to get the tactic approval of the public. Abe was very good at keeping the public informed which gave him long lasting support. A PM needs to be the spokesperson to ensure the public's support. Otherwise, as we see the public will make their own conclusions.

Koizumi and other LDP members are correct in recognizing that they abandoned Suga and should have helped him with the communication issues. However, the hierarchical structure is difficult to breakthrough. The Suga experience is a very good lesson on how the "Showa mindset" does not work anymore and a new model is needed. I hope more people in the J-public start see that dreaming about bringing back the Showa era strategies is not going to work. We've seen this for 30 years now. The focus should be on the people issues and focusing on how to resolve these in a more equitable manner.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

"Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga came into office pledging to devote himself to tackling the coronavirus, but in the end his response to the pandemic appears to have been his undoing." And here we see the problem with "leadership" in Japan. It's just words. He didn't devote himself to anything. Other than waffling about "devotion" and "tackling" what did he "do" to tackle the virus? Nothing! People are still struggling to book in their vaccine appointments. He should have shown "leadership" in one of two ways.

"I know holding the Olympics is not popular but I will take all responsibility for holding them. The Olympics will proceed, and I will ensure every resident has the opportunity to be fully vaccinated before the opening ceremony."

"I know some people are going to be disappointed but I have decided holding the Olympics will be too risky in the current climate. Freed-up from thinking about the Olympics we will use every energy to ensure all residents have the opportunity to be fully vaccinated by September."

Actual Japanese "leadership": "It's too difficult, and no one appreciates my lack of action, so I will resign."

2 ( +3 / -1 )

"PTownsendToday  09:28 am JST

I'm no fan of Suga, but my experience is very few managers in Japanese organizations ever seem willing to take full responsibility for actions of any sort, especially those actions that resulted in creating problems like we have seen come about from the poor response to dealing with he pandemic. Few Japanese leaders are willing to say 'the buck stops here', so shouldn't blame be spread and shared among all those in Suga's LDP faction."

100% SPOT ON!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Asiaman7Today  09:00 am JST

Definitely. The LDP is the ruling party and took ownership of the miscue. But would we have been better off if the opposition parties were running the show? Not likely.

They weren't running the show, they aren't running the show, and the chances of them ever doing so in the future are so infintesimally low you might as well hypothesize about what the UK Labour Party would do if they won a Japanese general election. Criticising the opposition for what they might do is a bit pointless as it's the LDP that Japan is stuck with unless something changes drastically, which is also unlikely as the LDP would have to allow it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Covid may have been what revealed Suga to be Suga, but his undoing is the natural result of a messy ball of cheap thread with nothing in the middle -- he just wanted to be able to say "I became PM!" like so many here seem to do, and had neither the will, the qualities, nor the ability to lead in any aspect whatsoever. Even when asked simple questions to justify decisions his eyes would glaze over, he'd pause like he forgot where he was, then mutter some standard line or else just say, "I don't wish to answer that" than turn and BARELY be able to not dash away.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

you would be calling for head to roll for refusing to do the "right thing" and conduct clinical trials.

And it takes a real leader to make that decision. Suga is so scared to be blamed for anything, so he always played safe.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Lamilly:

Compared to Europe and America death and infection numbers in Japan are very low, Japan has got to be doing something right.

Yes, comparing Japan to the worst of the worst. How convenient. How does Japan compare to its neighbours? Like, Korea, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan? Now, what is Japan doing 'right'? Look on the bright side, it 'might' be doing better than the Philippines. But we'll never know, since testing is at a minimum here, and many deaths are most probably swept under the carpet. However, stay on cloud cuckoo land if you want. Not all of us are fooled by the stats.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Comparing Japan to countries that have much larger population might explain something to some people who had stopped to think about it.

At any rate nobody can deny Japan has had plenty of time to prepare for the possible rise of infections that could happen and did little and is doing a not very effective job at responding to the pandemic in total.

In my opinion !

And yes i actually live in Japan .

1 ( +3 / -2 )

"He never really gave people that sense of competence and communicated empathy for what people were going through,"

In other words, he failed at being a leader.

"I cannot do both. I had to choose one of them."

This is a pathetic attempt to make it seem like he's making a personal sacrifice for the good of the people. The truth is, he failed as a leader and knows he can't win, now he's trying to save face.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I give him an A+ for the GoToTravel campaign. Used it five times. Subarashiiiii.

All Shinkansen and airplanes empty. All sightseeing places empty. Restaurants super welcoming.

Bring that back and I will travel even more than I do now more a month for a week or so.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

How COVID response sank Suga

No it didn't, it is crazy world of fractionized J party politics.

Where merit take a back seat, only for a perverse conveyor belt system to appoint a leadership candidate takes over.

If COVID played any part in Suga resignation then explain the logic of quote Vaccine minister Kono to run in LDP leadership race.

Kono is directly responsible for this vaccine farce.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Big business-fast!

Big government-slow!

It’s the same all over the world.

Suga is just a fall guy for the inefficient system that Japan has…

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I don't think any leader would of came out of this smelling like a rose, but Suga just didn't have much of a leader look about him

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I am sure all of you are aware that he was the fall guy. There was no way he could have succeeded. Abe-san disgracefully quit before the crap hit the fan and left Suga-san holding the flaming terd.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

In all fairness to Suga, I don't think anybody else could have done things better. This is because of the Japanese physic of when confronted by a situation or event or problem which is new, nobody seems to be able to take leadership command and deal with it.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Japanese people are harsh to him. What about Boris Johnson in U.K., Trump in U.S. and others. Are they very successful in containing the pandemic?

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Remember when prime minister Abe quit because of the failed Olympics? I'll bet we don't even know the half of how he failed yet.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Cheers Suga for lowering the cellphone bills.

I appreciated that so much but I hated you for being Abe's mouthpiece.

Abe left you out to dry as well.

I respect that you came from a humble background to become your country's leader.....awesome.

I truly think you should have done much more for people that weren't born with a silver spoon much like yourself and because my underlying memory of you is being Abe's spokesman and not allowing journalists to either question you or him I am glad you have gone or will be soon.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

One long word

GoToTravel

...and take down those silly signs in front of the conbini telling me I cannot drink what I buy there in front of the store, but smoking is allowed.

Suga did his best for the mess he was in, and to be sure, Abe ordered him around.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

vanityofvanitiesToday  03:30 pm JST

Japanese people are harsh to him. What about Boris Johnson in U.K., Trump in U.S. and others. Are they very successful in containing the pandemic?

You really think the public have been much kinder to any of them?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I was hoping for an uncharismatic technocrat who would make the vaccine train run on time. What we got was an uncharismatic buffoon.

Good riddance.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

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