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1. Response to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Achieving a balance between stopping the spread of infection and maintaining socioeconomic activities

I would like to first speak about our response to COVID-19.
Stopping the spread of infection and advancing social economic activities. Achieving a balance here is the major task we face in our long battle with the virus. As an initiative to address this task, we are thoroughly working to stop infection in shops and other facilities with the help of the people and businesses of Tokyo by using the rainbow COVID-19 safety sticker as a symbol of such efforts.

I recently took discretionary action to amend the Tokyo Metropolitan Ordinance on COVID-19 Measures to achieve this balance throughout Tokyo as soon as possible. I also took discretionary action for a supplementary budget to quickly provide funds to eateries that complied with our request to shorten their hours of operation.

I wish to express my appreciation to the people and businesses of Tokyo for their enormous cooperation during this period. Together with all of you, I wish to continue building Tokyo into a sustainable economic center that won’t lose to this “invisible enemy.”

Getting fully prepared for the flu season

We will take the lead in building up preparations for a crisis in the upcoming flu season. We are accelerating preparations to establish a permanent center for infectious disease response (Tokyo iCDC) to serve as a base for these measures.

The center will plan policies and conduct analyses of surveys and studies during non-emergency times with the cooperation of experts, the national government, universities and others. In times of emergency it will take responsibility for crisis management to secure the healthcare system, and comprehensively collect and distribute accurate information. A particular advantage will be its permanent expert board. In order to advance effective measures that make the most of their knowledge, next month we will launch this new base and promptly begin full operations while building up the system.

For the further enhancement of the healthcare delivery system, we will utilize the former Tokyo Metropolitan Fuchu Medical Center for the Disabled to open a dedicated COVID-19 healthcare facility, and we will also increase the number of reserved hospital beds to around 1,000 at metropolitan hospitals and hospitals operated by the Tokyo Metropolitan Health and Hospitals Corporation. We have received cooperation from Tokai University for operation of its affiliated Tokyo Hospital as an exclusive COVID-19 hospital. Through such initiatives, we are securing dedicated beds throughout Tokyo to speed up patient admittance and enhance treatment effectiveness.

Compiling a supplementary budget to further strengthen response

In addition, we have proposed a supplementary budget totaling 341.3 billion yen to this regular session to allow us to continue strengthening measures as we move from fall to winter. We aim to secure up to 4,000 beds through subsidies to medical institutions and further improve the testing system by supporting the introduction of equipment by private laboratories and other means. At the same time, from the perspective of “protecting the elderly,” we will promote new measures such as subsidizing the cost of PCR testing at facilities for the elderly and providing senior citizens with free influenza vaccinations.

In addition, we continue to support the financial needs of Tokyo residents and businesses by promoting special loans to support livelihoods and expanding lending under the government-backed loan system for SMEs. And to ensure a feeling of safety about economic activities, we have included measures to increase the effectiveness of initiatives against infection by business operators. To prepare for further measures in the future, we will take bold measures without delay to protect the lives, health, and socio-economic activities of our residents while continuing to maintain healthy finances through such measures as transferring financial surpluses to the fiscal adjustment fund.

Coordinate with the new cabinet to take a wide range of measures

Also at this regular session, I am proposing a draft ordinance to further amend the Tokyo Metropolitan Ordinance on COVID-19 Measures. The effectiveness of response will be further enhanced by clarifying the specific responsibilities of each of those involved, such as the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s improvement of the testing and health care systems and the obligation of Tokyo residents and businesses to make efforts to prevent the spread of infection.

At present, we need to remain vigilant against a resurgence in the number of infections, there is also no change in the prolonged burden on medical institutions. We will continue to take a wide range of measures while also working closely with the new Cabinet. I would like to again express my gratitude to all the residents and businesses in Tokyo and to all the medical professionals for their ongoing efforts, and sincerely request the cooperation of each and every one of you to continue to help contain the spread of the disease.

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