Japan plans to finish vaccinating all citizens who have applied for shots by October-November, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said during a debate between party leaders on Wednesday.
The debate was the first since June 2019, with Suga facing off against Yukio Edano, leader of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, as the latter criticized Suga for inadequate pandemic prevention measures.
Japan’s vaccination rate has risen to about 11 percent of its population, with many people receiving at least one dose, which is still slow compared with other nations.
The prime minister also said Japan will further cut the number of visitors from abroad, reducing the number of Olympic officials, workers and press members to ensure the public’s health and safety.
Japan has already halved the number from the initially planned 180,000 as it steps up preparation for the Olympics, due to start on July 23.
During the debate, Suga said he regretted having to take all the flak for holding the Summer Olympics during a pandemic as his government was reported to favor allowing domestic spectators into stadiums to watch.
Already postponed by a year, Tokyo 2020 has faced strong opposition from the public, medical experts and some former athletes as the country grapples against a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections.