A month after its launch, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga continues to extol the virtues of a controversial travel subsidy program for the ravaged tourism industry as criticism builds that the government rolled it out too soon.

“If we hadn’t done it, I think (the tourism industry) would have been more devastated,” Suga said of the Go To Travel program, which began on July 22, during an appearance on the TV program Hodo Station on Friday.

The comment from the top government spokesman came after Iwate Gov. Takuya Tasso declared the campaign, funded with a massive ¥1.35 trillion budget, a “failure,” given the ongoing coronavirus crisis.