Following is the gist of the interpellations at the Upper House Audit Committee meeting on June 7, 2021:
Chairperson Nomura Tetsuro (Liberal Democratic Party): What is the current situation?
Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide: Vaccines are a surefire anti-infection measure. I’m spearheading efforts to accelerate vaccinations to complete the inoculation of elderly people by the end of July. We will start vaccinations at workplaces and universities from mid-June.
Takase Hiromi (Komeito): When will we be able to achieve herd immunity?
Suga: It is not clear at this moment whether vaccines are effective in achieving herd immunity, but they are expected to be effective in preventing COVID-19 from developing and causing serious symptoms.
Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games
Mizuoka Shunichi (Opposition parliamentary group consisting of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and the Social Democratic Party): Can we hold the Games?
Suga: Our top priority is to make every effort to lift the current state of emergency. We believe the precondition for the Games is that we’ll work to allow athletes from around the world to participate with a sense of security, as well as protect the Japanese people’s lives and health. I want to convey this to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as well.
Mizuoka: Is there an option to cancel the Games?
Suga: I am not the organizer of the Games.
Koike Akira (Japanese Communist Party): Holding the Games brings the risk of spreading infections around the world.
Chairperson of the government’s expert panel on coronavirus measures Omi Shigeru: It is possible that holding the Games will raise the risk of infection. If the government decides to hold the Games, the risk cannot be reduced to zero. But the government is required to focus on measures to reduce the risk.
Shibata Takumi (Nippon Ishin [Japan Innovation Party]): This issue is attracting much attention.
Suga: I hope the issue of Taiwan will be resolved peacefully through direct talks between the parties concerned. We consistently follow this policy. (Abridged)