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Japan accused of ‘hiding’ coronavirus figures to save Olympics

On brink of
huge rise’:
PM Shinzo
Abe warned
of jump in
cases but
waved away
claims of a
cover-up
PICTURE: AP

A SHARP rise in Tokyo’s coronavirus cases following the postponement of the Olympics has prompted claims that Japan underplayed the crisis in the hope the Games would take place.

Suspicions are growing that numbers have increased because the authorities no longer have a reason to conceal them.

‘Tokyo made the number of patients look smaller to give the impression the city was taking control of the virus,’ former prime minister Yukio Hatoyama said in a tweet.

‘Coronavirus has spread while they waited. It was Olympics first, not Tokyo’s residents.’

Prime minister Shinzo Abe, who announced last week that the Games would be postponed until next year, denied there had been any cover-up.

‘I’m aware that some people suspect Japan is hiding the numbers, but I believe that’s not true,’ he said.

He warned that Japan is on the brink of a huge jump in infections after a rise in untraceable cases in Tokyo, Osaka and other urban areas. ‘Once infections overshoot, our strategy will instantly fall apart,’ he said.

‘Under the current situation we are just barely holding up.’

He said a state of emergency is not needed yet but warned Japan could face a situation as bad as that in the US or Europe.

As of Sunday, the country had 2,578 confirmed cases, including 712 from a cruise ship, with 64 deaths, according to the health ministry.