Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s flagship program succumbed to the reality of the worsening coronavirus pandemic Monday as he announced the Go To Travel campaign would be suspended nationwide over the year-end holidays.

Plummeting public support, growing political opposition and experts sounding the alarm drove Suga to suspend the campaign, while the virus itself seemed to be a secondary factor at most, writes Ryusei Takahashi.

Now the government will have to shell out: The tourism ministry said Tuesday it will expand compensation for travel businesses to further help them weather the fallout of the pandemic following the abrupt decision to suspend the travel subsidy program.

Japan to suspend Go To Travel campaign during new year holidays | NIPPON TV NEWS 24 JAPAN
Japan to suspend Go To Travel campaign during new year holidays | NIPPON TV NEWS 24 JAPAN

On the medical front, a facility dedicated to coronavirus patients with serious symptoms opened Tuesday in Osaka, with the Self-Defense Forces as well as other regions of Japan sending nurses to make up for a staff shortage amid a recent spike in infections there.

For lessons to be learned as temperatures drop across Japan, Reuters reports on the situation facing the city of Asahikawa in Hokkaido, which was hit by outbreaks at two major hospitals, exacerbated by subzero temperatures and restricted ventilation. With the spread now apparently under control, how did the city cope?

One silver lining from the pandemic: Japan has seen very few influenza patients this winter so far, possibly because of a phenomenon called viral interference caused by the coronavirus — as well as everyone generally just taking more precautions against infection.