Japanese prefectural governors on Sunday called on the central government to address a coronavirus vaccine supply shortage and implement a large stimulus to bolster pandemic-hit local economies.
In a policy proposal, the National Governors' Association also called for thorough antivirus measures during the Tokyo Olympics set to open July 23, including restricting activities of foreign athletes.
The governors released the proposal amid rising confusion at the frontline of inoculation due to supply shortages faced by many municipalities.
The governors said local governments were forced to suspend accepting appointments for the COVID-19 vaccination, as well as canceling appointments, after the state pressured local authorities to accelerate the pace of providing shots.
The proposal urged Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's government to recognize that its handling of the situation has caused confusion, even though local authorities have been trying to meet the government's goal of finishing inoculating all people in the country who want to receive shots by October or November.
The central government must distribute COVID-19 vaccine supplies necessary for municipalities and unveil delivery schedules for the future, it said.
"We have no choice but to limit the acceptance of appointments because supply is not meeting demand," said Ishikawa Gov. Masanori Tanimoto, one of 41 heads of the country's 47 prefectures who took part in an online meeting.
Such a situation "dampens people's expectations for early vaccination," Tanimoto said.
Some governors criticized the government's handling of workplace vaccinations as well.
"As a result of setting the first-come, first-served basis system, major companies started vaccination early while small and medium-sized firms were forced to suspend receiving appointments," Yamanashi Gov. Kotaro Nagasaki said.
The proposal also contains a request to implement a major economic stimulus package as local economies have been hard hit by the prolonged pandemic.
The governors urged the government to swiftly formulate a supplementary budget and carry out "bold economic measures" to support a wide variety of businesses.