Photo/Illutration Yamanashi Governor Kotaro Nagasaki, center, explains new COVID-19 requests during a meeting of the prefectural government’s task force on the novel coronavirus held in the prefectural government office building on Jan. 23. (Katsumi Mitsugi)

KOFU--Yamanashi Governor Kotaro Nagasaki found himself under fire and accused of overreacting to the COVID-19 crisis after calling on residents who are not fully vaccinated to refrain from going out unless it is for urgent or essential reasons. He said it was for their own protection.

To help ensure everybody stays safe, Nagasaki asked residents Jan. 23 to abide by a number of steps on grounds that those who have not received two vaccine jabs are at a higher risk of catching the novel coronavirus.

He also urged businesses to encourage their employees who have not received two vaccine jabs to work from home or refrain from assigning them tasks that involve contact with the public.

“If any instance of discrimination (against those who are not fully vaccinated) occurs, we intend to deal with it squarely as a human rights issue,” he said.

The following day, prefectural official had to field numerous calls from local residents wanting to know why the governor singled out those who are not fully vaccinated. Many callers criticized the request as an overreaction.

“They are only requests for cooperation,” a prefectural official said. “We certainly do not intend to force them (businesses) to check whether their employees are vaccinated or not.”

Nagasaki also called on schools to divide children in the same class into groups and allow each group to come to school only on certain days or during certain times.

Noriko Horiuchi, the state minister in charge of promoting vaccinations, weighed in on the issue of discrimination during a Jan. 25 news conference after a Cabinet meeting.

“Generally speaking, it is not appropriate to make people feel they have to be vaccinated,” she said. “Nor should people face discrimination based on whether or not they have been vaccinated.”

(This article was written by Tatsuhiko Yoshizawa and Taishi Sasayama.)