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Japan lags behind numerous other countries in inoculating its population against COVID-19.   © Illustration by Hiroko Oshima
Asia Insight

Japan's slow COVID vaccine rollout turns hope into frustration

With emergency lifted and Olympics fast approaching, clamor for change intensifies

MITSURU OBE, Nikkei staff writer | Japan

TOKYO -- It was a sunny March afternoon in Tokyo and the atmosphere inside the Kotoen nursing care center seemed just as bright. Nearly 40 seniors were playing indoor games after finishing their lunches and baths. But Keiko Sugi, who runs the facility in the city's easternmost ward of Edogawa, said some regulars were staying away out of fear of COVID-19.

"Many seniors are holed up in their homes and become frail and mentally depressed," she said. Sugi has assured them that they will be able to socialize again as soon as they get vaccinated. The wait, though, is starting to feel interminable.

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