Cabinet adviser who joked about COVID-19 ‘ripple’ in Japan leaves office

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A senior Japanese government adviser left his post on Monday following a backlash over tweets downplaying the pandemic and mocking calls to cancel the Olympics as the country continues to fight a fourth wave of the coronavirus .

Yoichi Takahashi | KYODO

On May 9, Kaetsu University professor Yoichi Takahashi compared the number of coronavirus cases in Japan to “a ripple,” adding “so you’re telling me people want to cancel the Olympics for this? LOL.”

Despite the controversy generated by the tweet, the Cabinet adviser posted another Twitter post on Friday that sparked a furious backlash, claiming that from a European and North American perspective, the state of coronavirus emergency in Japan probably looks like nothing.

“Even when you say there is a declaration of a state of emergency in Japan, from the point of view of Europe and the United States, there is no martial law and they probably see it as ‘nothing,’ “Takahashi tweeted, using a Japanese expression likening the statement to gas.

He later claimed that he had referred to “Japan’s weak restrictions on the movement of people.”

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who called the incident “extremely regrettable,” said on Monday that Takahashi had apologized by offering his resignation.

Takahashi, a former finance ministry bureaucrat, is known to be close to Suga and met him earlier this month, according to local media.

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