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The Japanese political world is abuzz with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s appointment of Taro Kono as the minister in charge of COVID-19 vaccinations. The decision came just a few days after Kono made media headlines in Japan and around the world for saying that whether Japan would hold the Tokyo Olympics this coming summer “could go either way.” While Kono was actually talking about an Olympics with athletes only or one where tourists could attend, the resulting media fervor put the Suga administration in damage control mode, since its standing policy is to drive full steam ahead on holding the games in six months.

With Kono now getting such a high visibility portfolio related to the pandemic thrown into his lap, the logical question is, Why?

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