Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged last month to build 2,000 new ventilators for coronavirus patients.
But now even the government says hospitals are unlikely to need that many, and the country may not even have enough medical staff to use the machines.
And the issue appears to be less about the immediate need for ventilators, and more about how vulnerable and unpredictable its become to get medical equipment overseas -- an issue of national security.
Abe wants Japanese companies to build the 2,000 ventilators to add to an unused stock of 4,700 already in hospitals.
A further 8,300 are deployed in critical care units, of which only a fraction are currently used to keep COVID-19 patients alive.
The health ministry says Japan needs to cut its dependence on the U.S., Europe, and China.
But overstocking to such a degree has led to some concerns.
The Japan Society of Respiratory Care also said there are already enough ventilators in the country.
One leading intensive care specialist, asking not to be identified, said the government's plan is ''like building fighter jets without having pilots," as every machine needs well trained operators.
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