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The government was advised to postpone a decision on the Go To Travel tourism promotion program but rejected that advice, the head of a government team on novel coronavirus countermeasures said Wednesday.

Shigeru Omi, head of the virus subcommittee under a government expert panel, made the remark at a parliamentary committee meeting in response to a question from Motohisa Furukawa of the opposition Democratic Party for the People.

“I advised the government to put off its decision as I saw a need to prepare a convincing explanation backed by evidence, by analyzing the results of epidemiological research” into the nation’s coronavirus infection situation, Omi said.

The advice was not accepted, he added.

Based on discussions at the subcommittee on July 16, the government decided to start Go To Travel on July 22 as scheduled, excluding trips to and from Tokyo. The program is intended to support the tourism industry through government-subsidized discounts and vouchers.

Omi said he had consented to the exclusion of Tokyo, at the July 16 meeting, because the capital was on a level totally different from other places in terms of the spread of infections.

At Wednesday’s parliamentary meeting, tourism minister Kazuyoshi Akaba said that he wants Tokyo to be included in the program if its infection situation improves.

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