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Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi suddenly cancels briefing in Japan after virus scare

Kyodo

Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi on Friday canceled a regular news conference after learning an official who has the new coronavirus may have come into contact with him.

After the sudden decision Friday afternoon, the Foreign Ministry said Consular Affairs Bureau Director-General Koichi Mizushima, 58, had tested positive for COVID-19 and might have had contact with Motegi.

But the ministry noted Mizushima and Motegi were unlikely to have had close contact and thus Motegi would not be required to self-isolate, adding that the news conference was canceled as a precautionary measure.

According to the ministry, Mizushima had a high fever Thursday night and worked at home Friday. One of his family members also tested positive, it said.

Mizushima was formerly minister of Japan's permanent mission to international organizations in Geneva and minister at the Japanese Embassy in Seoul.

Cabinet ministers hold regular news conferences twice a week after Cabinet meetings.

Separate from the Foreign Ministry, other government agencies have also reported infections among their staff.

On Thursday, the Defense Ministry reported that two Maritime Self-Defense Force personnel were found to be infected in Hyogo Prefecture.

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