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Prime Minister Fumio Kishida expressed the government’s readiness on Sunday to consider restricting people’s activities depending on how severely strained the medical care system becomes amid the spread of the omicron variant of the novel coronavirus.

The government aims to “ensure the safety and peace of mind of people while preventing the medical system from being squeezed” by promoting free coronavirus tests, booster shots of COVID-19 vaccines and the distribution of oral treatment drugs, Kishida said on an NHK program.

“Nevertheless, if there is a danger of heavy strains on the medical system, we will think about activity restrictions,” said Kishida, also president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

Among other senior officials of political parties who appeared on the program, Nobuyuki Baba, co-leader of Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party), and Yuichiro Tamaki, head of the Democratic Party for the People, took cautious attitudes toward limiting people’s activities.

On the fight against COVID-19 infections, Baba said, “It is time to switch direction toward not stopping economic activities.”

Tamaki said, “The key is whether we can maintain measures that do not curb economic and social activities needlessly.”

Natsuo Yamaguchi, chief representative of Komeito, the junior coalition partner of the LDP, stressed the importance of providing support quickly to people who need assistance amid the coronavirus crisis, referring to financial aid to those in need, small and medium-sized business operators and child-rearing families.

Kenta Izumi, leader of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, said the party will seek government benefits to the so-called working poor, as the government’s current COVID-19 relief aid program does not cover such people.

Kazuo Shii, head of the Japanese Communist Party, said the government’s financial assistance to people in need is wholly insufficient and demanded a drastic expansion of support.

Yasuhiko Funago, deputy chief of Reiwa Shinsengumi, called for the abolition of the consumption tax as part of an effort to support people in need.

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