After taking heavy flak for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was starting to look as if Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s dwindling public support rate had plateaued and might even have turned a corner with the belated rollout of a vaccine in Japan.

But any hint of a rebound was in jeopardy Monday with the resignation of a Cabinet official accused of having violated ethics rules by dining with Suga’s son — who works at a satellite TV firm — when she was at the communications ministry, writes Satoshi Sugiyama. The meal in question reportedly cost ¥74,203 (about $700).

Makiko Yamada’s resignation comes just days after the farm ministry punished six senior officials, including its top bureaucrat, also for accepting expensive meals — in this case with a former head of a major egg producer who has been indicted for bribery.

Cabinet Public Relations Secretary Yamada resigns [Japanese] | ANN NEWS CH
Cabinet Public Relations Secretary Yamada resigns [Japanese] | ANN NEWS CH

With surveys showing much of the Japanese public is confused by the government’s mixed messages on the pandemic, it should come as no surprise that many foreign residents are equally, if not more, perplexed.

Japan’s travel restrictions and visa application procedures are some of the most widely discussed topics among the foreign community, largely owing to confusion, a poor communication strategy and a lack of transparency in the government’s official communication channels, Magdalena Osumi reports.

Meanwhile in Kansai, the Osaka Ishin group has launched a Twitter account to counter alleged fake news about the prefecture’s COVID response. But as Eric Johnston reports, the self-proclaimed fact-checking service may face a credibility problem given who’s running the show.