After days of debates, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party was forced to cede ground on criminalizing noncompliance with coronavirus containment measures. But it will press on with levying fines for violators of the rules, funding Go To programs — and with the Tokyo Olympics, writes Satoshi Sugiyama.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has come under heavy fire from opposition lawmakers for not acting fast enough to curb the spread of the virus, but where does the government rate in comparison to other countries’ responses? There’s a study on that: In a 98-country ranking, Japan came out 20 places below neighboring South Korea, but about 40 notches above the U.S.

All countries are facing the challenge of how to persuade young people to upend their lives to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Yet nowhere are the stakes higher than in Japan, where nearly a third of residents are over 65 and the virus response depends on voluntary cooperation. Authorities here have tried a range of approaches to reach young adults but, as Bloomberg reports, they’re barely registering.

AstraZeneca to produce coronavirus vaccines in Japan | NIPPON TV NEWS 24 JAPAN
AstraZeneca to produce coronavirus vaccines in Japan | NIPPON TV NEWS 24 JAPAN

Meanwhile, with concerns mounting over whether Japan will have enough doses to begin its inoculation campaign, AstraZeneca said Thursday it will make over 90 million vaccine shots in-country. These will comprise three-quarters of the doses it has promised the government, with 30 million more sourced from overseas.

AstraZeneca began Japanese trials last summer and has tied up with local partners to make and distribute the shots. However, the company has not yet filed for Japanese approval of its formula, even though its domestic trial started before Pfizer’s. Japan plans to begin its inoculation push in late February with Pfizer’s vaccine shots for front-line medical workers.

Thursday’s (and Wednesday’s) new COVID-19 cases by prefecture (50 or over): Tokyo 1,064 (973), Kanagawa 433 (386), Osaka 397 (357), Chiba 314 (258), Saitama 292 (247), Aichi 244 (227), Hyogo 231 (211), Fukuoka 185 (185), Hokkaido 115 (147), Kyoto 109 (128), Okinawa 98 (131), Shizuoka 89 (60), Ibaraki 60 (84), Gifu 53 (49). Source: Japan COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker