Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has said that Japan will "actively" cooperate with the World Health Organization's efforts to investigate the origins of the novel coronavirus, adding that the probe should be conducted in a "transparent" manner as its findings will be key to combating infectious diseases in the future.
"We need to prepare for a future crisis by learning from this experience," Suga said in a speech during a virtual event hosted by the World Economic Forum on Friday. "From that perspective, Japan considers it is important that the WHO, which holds the key in response to infectious diseases, steadily carries out scientific investigation and verification in a transparent manner."
On the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, Suga reiterated Japan's commitment to hosting the games this summer, saying he is in agreement with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach to stage them "at any cost."
"To realize a safe and secure games, anti-infection measures are extremely important. We are in the middle of considering the details of the steps," Suga said in a question-and-answer session with Klaus Schwab, executive chairman of the economic forum.
Suga made the remarks a day after a WHO group of experts completed a two-week quarantine in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus was first detected in late 2019, and started their on-the-ground probe of its origins.
Among other places, the team, consisting of 10 investigators, including Ken Maeda, a veterinary microbiologist at Japan's National Institute of Infectious Diseases, will visit a Wuhan seafood market, where a number of people were confirmed to have contracted the virus in the early days of the outbreak.
In explaining Japan's response to the global fight against the pandemic in the online event, Suga said it has pledged more than $130 million to the COVAX Facility, an international framework to ensure developing countries have fair access to coronavirus vaccines.
Suga said Japan will "further expand" its financial contributions for the global initiative.
He also stressed Japan has promoted the ACT-Accelerator, a program led by the WHO to speed up the development and distribution of treatment drugs and vaccines.
The World Economic Forum usually holds its annual meeting in January, but it was postponed this year against the backdrop of the pandemic. The gathering is scheduled to take place in Singapore in May.
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