Over 70 percent of the public believes the closure of illegal and unregulated animal markets in China and elsewhere would prevent pandemics like today’s from happening in the future, a recent survey by the World Wide Fund for Nature shows.

Japan’s 72 percent agreement rate compares with 91 percent in Myanmar, 80 percent in Hong Kong, 79 percent in Thailand and 73 percent in Vietnam, according to the WWF survey, which queried 1,000 people from each nation.

The group is better known as the World Wildlife Fund in certain countries.

If measures are not taken to close or regulate such animal markets, 65 percent of the Japan respondents said they would be extremely worried or very worried that a contagion similar to the novel coronavirus could become another pandemic in the future.

The Japanese figure came in below 85 percent in Hong Kong, 83 percent in both Myanmar and Vietnam, and 80 percent in Thailand.

In the four economies other than Japan, 90 percent or more of respondents said they are very likely or likely to support efforts by their governments to close all illegal and unregulated wildlife markets in their country.

However, the rate for Japan was just 54 percent — apparently because 59 percent answered there are no such markets in Japan.

“In Japan, open wildlife markets for meat are not prevalent,” the WWF said. “Therefore, this may explain why only 54 percent claimed that they would support such government efforts.”

U.S. President Donald Trump and senior U.S. officials have accused China of withholding details about how the coronavirus oubreak began in Wuhan late last year.

Citing “the strong link between illegal wildlife sold in wet markets and zoonotic diseases,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged Beijing to “permanently close its wildlife wet markets and all markets that sell illegal wildlife.”

In a statement issued on April 22, Pompeo also called on the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations to take similar action.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The virus that causes the respiratory disease COVID-19 has infected more than 3.5 million people around the world, including over 15,000 officially in Japan.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.