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A top Japanese government adviser quit his post Monday following a backlash over tweets downplaying the pandemic and laughing off calls for the Olympics to be canceled as the country continues to battle a fourth wave of the coronavirus.

Yoichi Takahashi | KYODO
Yoichi Takahashi | KYODO

Kaetsu University professor Yoichi Takahashi on May 9 likened the number of coronavirus cases in Japan to “a ripple,” adding “so you’re telling me people want to cancel the Olympics for this? lol lol.”

Despite the controversy generated by this tweet, the Cabinet adviser on Friday posted another message to Twitter that stoked a furious response, saying that from the perspectives of Europe and North America, Japan’s coronavirus state of emergency probably appears like nothing.

“Even when you say there’s a declaration of a state of emergency in Japan, from Europe and the United States’ points of view, there’s no martial law and they probably see it as ‘nothing,'” Takahashi tweeted, using a Japanese phrase comparing the declaration to flatulence.

He later claimed he had been referring to “the weakness of Japan’s restrictions on people’s movements.”

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who called the incident “extremely regrettable,” said Monday that Takahashi had apologized when offering his resignation.

Takahashi, a former Finance Ministry bureaucrat, is known to be close to Suga and met with him earlier this month, according to local media.

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