Due to the spread of the coronavirus infection, various activities of the Diet are being carried out in a tense situation. The plenary session of the Policy Research Council of the LDP was held at the LDP’s headquarters early on the morning of April 6, Monday. All the participating members were wearing masks, and many members raised questions and expressed opinions after the government’s explanation of the emergency economic measures.
This issue was also taken up at the General Council’s meeting that followed. I made the following suggestions to the government and the LDP executives, and called for improvements in these areas.
(1) It has been decided that two washable cloth masks will be distributed to every household in Japan. It would be better if the masks are provided only to those households which really need them, and the rest of the budget should rather be used for other purposes.
(2) Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing device is expensive, and it is not expected to be widely used. Instead, simple test kits for detecting coronavirus are recently being imported from China and South Korea. In my personal opinion, these simple kits seem to be useful for preventing people from the coronavirus infection, though the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare and the Japan Medical Association show little interest.
(3) Many individual proprietors and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are now facing cash-flow problems due to the spread of the coronavirus infection. While the top-level management of large banks say that their banks will make necessary loans and investment smoothly, local banks’ examination of the clients’ application documents is still very strict, and the examination by the Credit Guarantee Corporation, a public interest corporation established in accordance with Credit Guarantee Association Act with the aim of serving as a public guarantor to make it easier for SMEs to borrow funds, is said to be even more strict.
(4) Currently, the coronavirus infection spreads world-wide. Although we are facing a difficult situation domestically, we should not forget, even for a moment, about our economic cooperation, diplomacy, and security relationship with the developing countries. I pray that the coronavirus infection in Africa, in particular, will not explode, and that the people infected with the coronavirus will be cured. China, which is said to have completely stopped the spread of the coronavirus infection inside the country, has started to provide other countries with a large number of masks, and is dispatching its medical teams to other countries. Despite the fact that Wuhan City in China was once the epicenter of the spread of the coronavirus infection, China now intends to become a powerful donor country. We are witnessing China’s tough diplomacy.