TOYAMA – A Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker attended a drinking party Friday with about 30 people in Toyama, his office said Saturday, despite authorities’ warnings to refrain from dining in large groups to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus.
Mitsuhiro Miyakoshi, a 70-year-old House of Representatives member, also fell down and was taken to a hospital by ambulance after the drinking party, sources familiar with the matter said.
“I deeply regret attending the drinking party and apologize,” the former minister for Okinawa and Northern Territories said in a statement released by his office. He suffered a minor injury, according to the sources.
Miyakoshi’s outing came despite a government warning that dining with five or more people carries a high risk of spreading the virus. Miyakoshi drank with members of the fishing industry in Toyama, his constituency, according to the sources.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who heads the LDP, has been under mounting criticism himself after taking part in two dinner gatherings in Tokyo earlier this month, the first at a luxury hotel with about 15 people and then at an upscale steakhouse with a total of eight.
Japan has been seeing record numbers of infections since November and approval ratings for Suga’s Cabinet in media polls have been falling sharply in recent weeks, reflecting public views over his handling of the pandemic.
Suga held a news conference on Friday to ask people in Japan to spend the New Year’s holiday season “quietly” and avoid large gatherings of family and friends.
Hours before, Olympic minister Seiko Hashimoto confirmed a magazine report that she held a party with five other people on Dec. 17 by fully reserving all the seating at a high-end sushi restaurant.
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