The following is the gist of interpellations at the budget committee meeting of the House of Councillors on March 4, 2021:
State of emergency declaration
Masayuki Tokushige (Liberal Democratic Party): Why will the government extend the state of emergency for Tokyo and three of its neighboring prefectures?
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga: We are in a crucial stage to contain COVID-19 infections. We are still facing some difficulties, including the high rate of occupancy of hospital beds. I think the declaration needs to be extended by about two weeks to protect the people’s lives and livelihoods. I will make a final decision after fully listening to the opinions of experts and related parties.
Daisuke Katayama (Nippon Ishin [Japan Innovation Party]): What is your opinion as an expert?
Chair of the government’s expert panel on coronavirus measures Shigeru Omi: The Greater Tokyo Metropolitan Area is more likely to see a rebound in new cases than other areas. The decision to extend [the declaration] is the right choice.
Tetsuji Isozaki (Democratic Party for the People): The declaration can also be extended by one month and
Suga: I think cooperation from the public for two more weeks or so would lead to curbing virus infections.
Medical care system
Makoto Nishida (Komeito): The medical care system will collapse unless it is reinforced.
Suga: We are providing strong financial support to hospitals accepting COVID-19 patients. We want to secure medical care systems through close cooperation among the central government, regional governments, and medical workers.
Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games
Katayama: Will foreign visitors be barred from the Tokyo Games?
Minister for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games Tamayo Marukawa: We will make a decision by the
end of March by taking into consideration the infection situations in and outside of Japan, quarantine measures,
and scientific knowledge.
Nuclear power policy
Katayama: Is the government considering building new nuclear power plants?
Suga: The government’s basic stance is that we are not considering to do so at this moment. (Abridged)