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Trump may have gone, but allegations of “fake news” haven’t. “Oh no, NHK, please don’t go around making vaccination rollout schedules like that. It’s bogus,” Taro Kono, the man tasked with managing Japan’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, tweeted Wednesday.

Kono was reacting to reports that vaccinations for the general public would begin in May — just two months before the postponed Olympics — after giving shots to the most vulnerable. The Yomiuri Shimbun said the government is hoping the majority of adults will be vaccinated by July, when the games are due to open.

The health ministry said Wednesday that it had agreed with U.S. pharma giant Pfizer to receive enough of its coronavirus vaccine to cover 72 million people within this year, securing doses for an additional 12 million people on top of the 60 million already clinched last year.

COVID vaccines may be available to Japan's general public in May | NIPPON TV NEWS 24 JAPAN
COVID vaccines may be available to Japan’s general public in May | NIPPON TV NEWS 24 JAPAN

In the Diet, meanwhile, the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party criticized the government for its delay in declaring a state of emergency over the pandemic and opposed its plan to penalize those infected with the virus who refuse to be hospitalized.

Some experts are also calling for caution in revising the law, stressing the need for the government to show reasonable grounds for penalties that would limit citizens’ rights — and not to get carried away with the prevailing mood. There are also fears that legal changes could bring Japan’s coronavirus vigilantes back out of the woodwork, if these “self-restraint police” come to believe they have legal and public support to enforce good behavior.

Wednesday’s (and Tuesday’s) new COVID-19 cases by prefecture (50 or over): Tokyo 1,274 (1,240), Kanagawa 716 (737), Osaka 506 (525), Saitama 411 (422), Chiba 397 (487), Hyogo 296 (218), Fukuoka 277 (200), Aichi 246 (246), Hokkaido 164 (92), Kyoto 123 (143), Okinawa 111 (113), Ibaraki 85 (66), Shizuoka 76 (40), Hiroshima 57 (7), Gifu 55 (65), Gunma 52 (48), Miyazaki 51 (29). Source: Japan COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker

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