If you want to make use of the government’s Go To Travel domestic tourism coupon campaign over the festive period — coronavirus be damned — best make it fast. On Monday, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga abruptly announced that the campaign will be suspended nationwide from Dec. 28 to Jan. 11.

The drastic policy shift suggests that efforts to concurrently keep the economy functioning and contain the virus have hit a wall, with record-breaking cases emerging nationwide almost daily since late October, writes Ryusei Takahashi.

The government has called on the public to make extra efforts to rein in the virus in the three weeks through Wednesday by limiting their movements. However, at JR Tokyo Station and Haneda Airport the volume of pedestrians was marginally higher Sunday than a week before, a survey released Monday shows, suggesting that people aren’t heeding the call.

Japan drops Go To Travel campaign as COVID-19 cases surge | ARIRANG NEWS
Japan drops Go To Travel campaign as COVID-19 cases surge | ARIRANG NEWS

With the U.S. and Canada joining the U.K. in kicking off vaccinations against COVID-19 with a vaccine made in Germany, Osamu Tsukimori takes a deeper look at why Japan has been largely a spectator in the global race to produce vaccines for COVID-19. The answers, he finds, lie in Japan’s history of costly mistakes in the vaccine field, as well as the failure to reform the pharmaceutical sector to keep up with international competition.

For those unfortunate enough to have experienced COVID-19, Japanese researchers do have some good news, though: In tests performed six months later on those who fell ill with the disease, antibodies that neutralized the novel coronavirus were found in 98% of subjects. The team said it plans to conduct a follow-up survey to see whether the people will still have such antibodies a year after their infections.

Monday’s (and Sunday’s) new COVID-19 cases by prefecture (20 or over): Tokyo 305 (480), Osaka 185 (308), Hokkaido 125 (164), Kanagawa 121 (231), Aichi 114 (181), Hiroshima 110 (76), Saitama 102 (144), Chiba 80 (111), Hyogo 65 (114), Fukuoka 58 (71), Kyoto 40 (59), Gunma 31 (40), Kumamoto 30 (29), Okayama 27 (38), Shizuoka 27 (34), Ibaraki 25 (14), Nagano 20 (16). Source: Japan COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker