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Japan’s Suga Says Government on High Alert as Tokyo C...

Newsdeck

Newsdeck

Japan’s Suga Says Government on High Alert as Tokyo Cases Rise

Yuriko Koike
By Bloomberg
28 Jun 2021 0

(Bloomberg) --Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said the government must be on high alert as virus cases begin to rise in the capital, about three weeks before Tokyo hosts the Olympics.

By Isabel Reynolds
Jun 28, 2021, 2:49 AM – Updated on Jun 28, 2021, 6:30 AM
Word Count: 500

“While there is a downward trend across the country as a whole, there is a slight upward trend in the capital region,” Suga told reporters Monday. “We must be on a high state of alert in dealing with the virus.” He added that he would be nimble in adjusting policies to deal with the situation.

Case numbers in Tokyo have been creeping up over the past week, since Suga lifted a state of emergency imposed to rein in infections. Any sharp increase could mean the emergency is reintroduced, further restricting residents’ activities even while the games are taking place.

The seven-day moving average of new virus infections recorded in Tokyo rose to 477 on Sunday, compared with 388 the previous week.

Suga’s comments came as the capital’s government announced Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike would take a few more days away from public duties on the advice of a doctor, extending an already week-long absence.

Koike had been expected to return to work Monday, after taking time off to recuperate from fatigue. She was taken to a hospital last Tuesday, Kyodo News reported, without saying whether she had received a specific diagnosis.

Koike, 68, has led Tokyo’s response throughout the coronavirus crisis, often appearing to adopt a more cautious stance than Suga’s government. She has retained relatively strong public backing, with 57% of respondents to a poll of Tokyo residents published by the Asahi newspaper on Monday saying they supported her.

Koike said on June 7 she had received her first dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

The political veteran has stepped out of the spotlight at a critical time, just before local elections in Tokyo on July 4. Koike’s term as governor has three more years to run, but she must work closely with the victorious parties in the assembly, which may include Suga’s Liberal Democratic Party.

Controversy continues to rage over the Olympics, which are set to open July 23. About 58% of respondents to a Mainichi newspaper survey published on Monday said they opposed the games. Japan’s Imperial Household Agency even weighed in, saying last week Emperor Naruhito may have concerns the Olympics could cause coronavirus infections to rise.

Japan Imperial Agency Sees Emperor Having Concerns on Olympics

About 55% of respondents to the Asahi survey said they approved of Koike’s handling of the virus, compared with 35% who said they didn’t. Asked about her handling of the Olympics, voters were evenly divided, with 42% saying they approved and the same percentage disapproving.

Koike, a former TV news anchor, defense and environment minister, left her seat as a Liberal Democratic Party member of parliament in her successful bid to become the first female governor of Tokyo in 2016. Her party challenged then-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s LDP unsuccessfully in parliamentary elections the following year.

(Updates to recast with Suga’s comments on virus.)

–With assistance from Emi Nobuhiro.

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.
Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]
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