• Kyodo News

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Prime Minister Taro Aso questioned the credibility of China’s tally of H1N1 swine flu infections when he met with South Korean Prime Minister Han Seung Soo in late May, saying he believed the figure announced by Beijing was too low, several sources said Tuesday.

“It cannot be true that the number of new influenza infections in China is so low,” Aso was quoted by the sources as telling Han during their meeting in Tokyo on May 22.

The two leaders then agreed on the need to set up a joint committee of experts to address the new H1N1 flu strain. Aso suggested that China should also be involved in the project.

As of May 22, the number of people who were confirmed to have contracted swine flu stood at 302 in Japan, while China had reported only five cases.

Aso told Han he suspected the actual number was much higher in China, given its population of some 1.3 billion, roughly 10 times larger than Japan’s, according to the sources.

Aso also noted there are far more pigs in China than in Japan, the sources said, adding his remarks could be interpreted as indicating the new influenza virus could have already broken out in the country.

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