Japanese Newspaper Ad Declaring Country Will Be 'Killed by Politics' Over Olympics

A full-page ad in a Japanese newspaper said the country will be "killed by politics" because the government is forcing Japan to endure the pandemic without vaccines ahead of the Tokyo Olympics months away.

"No vaccine. No medication. Are we supposed to fight with bamboo spears? We'll be killed by politics if things remain unchanged," the ad by Tokyo-based publisher Takarajimasha said.

The ad showed an illustration of a red coronavirus symbol on a World War II-era photo of Japanese children learning to fight with "naginata" sword-shaped sticks.

With the highly-protested Olympics set for July, only 1 percent of the Japanese population is vaccinated. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said the events will be safe, but has also placed the country in its third state of emergency through May 31.

Tokyo Olympics Protest
In this Feb. 24, 2021, file photo, people walk past posters to promote the Olympic Games scheduled to start in the summer in Tokyo. Frustration is mounting over Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s request that people cooperate while he pushes to hold the Olympics in just over two months. Koji Sasahara/AP Photo

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Takarajimasha, known for its outspoken stance on political and social issues, urged the public to demand that the government end poorly conceived coronavirus measures. "We have been deceived. What was the past year for?" it said.

The publisher said many Japanese people have faced medical and financial problems with little government support. It said the situation resembles Japan near the end of the war when the government urged people to fight with sticks and mobilized schoolgirls to train.

The ad caused a stir on social media. But there was also wide public interest in a session of parliament in which scores of opposition lawmakers asked Suga how he could guarantee a safe Olympics during an expanded state of emergency.

Suga repeatedly dodged giving a direct answer, saying more than a dozen times that he was committed to holding the games safely and to protecting people's lives and health.

Videos of Suga's parliamentary remarks were shared on social media, and people posted comments such as "The prime minister is broken."

Suga and his government have faced criticism for being too slow and lax on virus measures. Even though Japan has managed to keep its number of cases and deaths below those in the U.S. and Europe without lockdowns and other mandatory measures, the results are worse than some other places in Asia.

Japan has also lagged far behind in vaccinations. Though officials blame a lack of supplies imported from Europe, progress is slow because of staff shortages. About 7.6 million doses, or more than half of the doses delivered, remain unused in freezers.

Public frustration has even targeted Japanese swimming star Rikako Ikee, who won a spot at the Tokyo Olympics after recovering from leukemia. Ikee tweeted recently that she has received messages that "pained her heart" by urging her to oppose the Olympics and not attend.

A petition demanding the cancellation of the Olympics has gained more than 300,000 signatures. It urges the government to spend the money for the games instead on people in need of financial support because of the pandemic.

On Wednesday a magazine reported that the Japan Medical Association organized an in-person political fund-raising party for a lawmaker in Suga's governing Liberal Democratic Party in late April, when infections were accelerating and Osaka and other prefectures were seeking emergency steps.

JMA President Toshio Nakagawa said it was a seminar at a Tokyo hotel where social distancing and other antivirus measures were observed and no food was served.

Japans Olympics
Japans Prime Minister, Yoshihide Suga, speaks at a press conference on May 7, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. Mr Suga announced that the current state of emergency covering Tokyo and a number of other prefectures is to be extended to May 31 as parts of the country experience a surge in Covid-19 coronavirus cases. With just under three months remaining until the Olympic Games, concern continues to mount over the feasibility of hosting the event amid the ongoing pandemic. Hiro Komae/Getty Images