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(Editorial) Suzuki Naomichi, First Decisive Leader of Japan amid Coronavirus

Author: Zhaobo Bob Wang; Format Editor: Stéphane Bincheng Mao This is an opinion piece; it reflects the personal opinion of the author(s)'s, not necessarily the opinion of the ECC.

On February 26th, 2020, Suzuki Naomichi (鈴木直道), the present Governor of Hokkaido (the northernmost state in Japan), asked all schools (primary, junior and senior school) in Hokkaido to close for a week; then on Fen 28th, Suzuki declared Hokkaido the state of emergency. He rushed to Tokyo the day after that to ask Abe, the present Japanese Prime Minister, to set Hokkaido as “Special prevention and control area”. Suzuki was the first Japanese governor who pays attention to the coronavirus, and with his effort, Hokkaido became the first Japanese state to take practical actions to try to prevent and control the spread of the coronavirus.

Source: Japan NHK

Suzuki, [su:zu:ki], the second-largest Japanese family name. In Japanese, it means "bell wood," a kind of tree that inhabits nearshore waters and estuaries.

The 38-year-old governor is the youngest ever governor in Japan. Besides, in 2011, Suzuki became the youngest ever mayor in Japan at the age of 30 (Yubari). What’s more, the rising politician star wasn’t born noble but civilian. At the age of 17, his parents got a divorce. To support his family, Suzuki didn’t go to a university after his graduation from high school but find a job in the capital government of Tokyo. However, Suzuki never gave up making effort to receive further education, so he decided to take night courses at Hosei University after work, and he finally got his bachelor’s degree in 2004.

“Considering that we haven’t got any orders or solutions from the central government, we must take actions ourselves. As governor, I shall be responsible for whatever happens.” Suzuki said so during the news conference on Feb 28th, where he declared Hokkaido the state of emergency. “I shall be responsible for whatever happens.”, such a statement is rare among Japanese politicians, and is even rare among Japanese people. According to Kondo Daisuke, the author What Does China Lack, and What Does Japan Lack, Japanese people are reluctant to take any responsibility for a group, even the group leaders. It even becomes a kind of tradition, and this tradition is a reason that there hasn’t been significant technological innovations in Japan for decades. Suzuki challenged the tradition of never take responsibility for a group, and it is such a challenging spirit that may reverse the decline of Japan. Japanese people need leaders like Suzuki, and all people who are suffering from the coronavirus need leaders like Suzuki, who ventured his reputation and be responsible for whatever possibly happens.


This is an opinion piece; it reflects the personal opinion of the author(s)'s, not necessarily the opinion of the ECC. The ECC's publication of opinion pieces are not an endorsement of them.



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