Japan's parliament on Wednesday enacted laws to establish a new institution modeled after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to better respond to health crises after the government was criticized for its handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
The center, expected to commence operations in fiscal 2025 at the earliest, will be a part of Japan's new system for fighting the next pandemic along with other new organizations to be set up -- a centralized disease response headquarters overseen by the Cabinet Secretariat and an infectious disease countermeasures department at the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.
The Japanese version of the CDC will combine the disease analysis, research and monitoring functions currently handled by the National Institute of Infectious Diseases with the treatment, clinical research and international cooperation overseen by the National Center for Global Health and Medicine.
By bringing together the separate entities, the new institution designed to respond comprehensively at each stage, from collecting data to healthcare provision.
It will also report scientific expert opinion to the prime minister and health minister and provide views to the government's countermeasures department.
The coronavirus pandemic highlighted the need for speedier decision-making, smooth coordination between government entities and municipal administrations and better risk communication.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida first announced the CDC-inspired organization in June last year.
It came after a government expert panel reviewing Japan's COVID-19 response said it lacked preparedness in normal times for an infectious disease emergency, was slow to boost testing capacity and that its medical system was stretched at times.
The new system must be introduced within three years of the new law's promulgation.
But how the new body will be structured and who will work in it is to be determined at a later date. A health ministry official said the government will "refine the details to ensure it can fulfill its expected duties."