Go to travel or not go to travel? That is the question that is being batted about the nation’s many offices of power. As Japan sees a steady increase of infections, comprising what many call the country’s third wave of COVID-19, it was announced on Thursday that the central government plans to extend the Go To travel subsidy campaign — a ¥1.35 trillion program meant to resuscitate the battered tourism industry through discounted domestic trips — from January until early June.
OK, but earlier in the week, there was a flurry of announcements made about the suspension of Go To Eat coupons in 10 prefectures and the shortening operating hours for dining establishments in various areas. In addition, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike recently asked high-risk residents of the capital — those over age 65 and those with pre-existing conditions — to refrain from participating in the tourism promotion campaign. And right before that, travelers from Sapporo and Osaka were asked to curb their desire to use the Go To campaign.
So what’s the deal? Are we heading back to another state of emergency? In the latest Media Mix, Philip Brasor looks at the Rorschach test that is the coronavirus. On the one hand, we have Shukan Shincho questioning the hype and accentuating the positive. What about the bleak numbers coming out of Europe and the U.S.? They ask. What about the relatively low death rate here?
On the other hand, we have the Mainichi Shimbun chastising the media for being too complacent about the approaching storm and the government for trying to do everything at one. Infectious disease expert Kentaro Iwata, speaking to the Mainichi, summed it up nicely: “It’s like stepping on the brake and the accelerator at the same time.”