All networks reported at noon that Minister in charge of Administrative Reform Kono, who has been tasked with rolling out a COVID-19 vaccination program, said he will begin conducting hearings with relevant agencies to grasp the current situation. He reportedly said in an online press conference today: “I will be in charge of the logistics of vaccinations, such as transportation and storage and setting up venues. I will make an all-out effort so that as many people as possible will be able to get safe and effective vaccines as early as possible.”
Fuji TV said that Prime Minister Suga hopes to achieve a breakthrough in the situation by appointing Kono as the minister in charge of vaccinations, which the GOJ is seeking to begin in late February. The network said Suga has been telling his aides that the most important measure for preventing the spread of the virus is vaccination. According to the network, he is aware that achieving a high vaccination rate will be a challenge given the low rates in the U.S. and UK. Noting that in Japan METI is in charge of securing freezers for vaccines, MLIT is in charge of distribution, and each local municipality is in charge of vaccination itself, which will be overseen by the Internal Affairs Ministry, the network said Suga tapped Kono on account of his ability to pull together all relevant ministries and agencies. Fuji TV reported that a prime minister’s aide said that Suga is hoping to dispel public criticism of the GOJ’s response to the outbreak by harnessing Kono’s ability to get things done.
Meanwhile, TV Asahi reported that according to a GOJ source, the GOJ is considering administering vaccines to medical practitioners in late February, followed by elderly people and people with preexisting conditions in March and April and others in May and beyond.