The April 19 edition of The Japan Times on Sunday places two articles side by side, inviting us to compare responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
I read Michael Hoffman’s piece first (“It’s a little tough to truly feel free in a time of pestilence”) because it starts with a quotation from Albert Camus’ “The Plague” (1947): “No longer were there individual destinies; only a collective destiny, made of plague and emotions shared by all.” Camus’s words give us pause. COVID -19 teaches us that we’re all in this together. The virus is nothing if not democratic. One human host is not preferable to another.
But some people are more vulnerable than others. They have less money. They can’t flee to Karuizawa.
These people are addressed on the facing page, in Philip Brasor’s “COVID-19 imperils Japan’s most vulnerable.” The article deals with a dilemma faced by the Abe government. Urgent measures have to be taken, but at what price? Just asking the question indicates which side of the vulnerability divide one is on.
Lockdowns damage businesses that depend on people moving around and spending money. Without customers, businesses will close. People deprived of their livelihood might consider suicide.
During a two-year pandemic, sacrifices will have to be made. Lockdowns are necessary in the war against the virus. Businesses, and both regular and nonregular workers, will suffer.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will suffer politically as a result of his slow and inadequate response to the virus.
To underscore our “collective destiny,” ¥100,000 government handouts should go to everyone. They should be followed quickly by additional relief to needy households, a further ¥300,000.
Additional handouts should follow to combat poverty and despair.
In a war, does anyone ever ask, “Where is the money coming from?”
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.