• Jiji


Japan has fulfilled its responsibilities as the Tokyo Olympics host nation and brought the event to a close with little trouble, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Monday.

“This is the result of the understanding and cooperation of citizens. I would like to offer my heartfelt gratitude,” Suga said at a news conference in the city of Nagasaki.

“Athletes turned in outstanding performances. It was a wonderful Olympics,” he said.

The Tokyo Olympics, postponed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, ended with the closing ceremony Sunday.

Suga revealed that more than 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Japan.

Noting that the number of new infection cases and COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms has fallen among people age 65 and older, a group given priority for vaccinations, Suga said: “The effects of vaccinations are clear. We will push ahead with two injections (per citizen) as early as possible.”

He expressed a sense of crisis over the recent rapid increase in infection cases ahead of the Bon summer holiday period from this week. “This is a very important period, given the spread of infections is continuing on an unprecedented scale,” he said.

Explaining that people in their 30s and younger currently account for 70% of new infection cases in Tokyo, Suga said he wants young people to cooperate in preventing the spread of infections, as they are at a higher risk than ever of becoming seriously ill.

Suga was visiting Nagasaki to attend an annual memorial ceremony to mark the 76th anniversary of the Aug. 9, 1945, atomic bombing of the city.

On whether to provide state relief to a wider range of people exposed to radioactive “black rain” that fell in the aftermath of the U.S. nuclear attack on Nagasaki, Suga said his government will keep an eye on the course of an ongoing related lawsuit.

He also said the government needs to take to heart that many precious lives were lost in the atomic bombing and that there are people who are still suffering the aftereffects of the bombing.

Last month, the government decided not to appeal a high court ruling that recognized all plaintiffs in a damages suit over black rain that fell in Hiroshima as hibakusha, and has expressed its readiness to offer relief to similar sufferers in the city. At the time of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, the plaintiffs were living outside a state-designated area subject to black rain relief.

Also at the news conference, Suga reiterated that the government has no plans to sign the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which came into force in January. He also stuck to the position that careful consideration is needed on whether Japan should attend as an observer the first meeting of signatories to the treaty, slated for January 2022.

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