Abe and Koike aim to cooperate on handling coronavirus ahead of Tokyo 2020

Abe and Koike aim to cooperate on handling coronavirus ahead of Tokyo 2020

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Shinzō Abe congratulated Yuriko Koike on her victory ©Getty Images

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe and Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike have agreed to cooperate on handling the COVID-19 pandemic safely ahead of the nation's hosting of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics next year.

Koike met with Abe after winning a second term as the capital's Governor on Sunday (July 5).

The Prime Minister congratulated her on her landslide victory, which saw her win 59.7 per cent of the vote.

"Governor Koike and I will have to cooperate more closely than ever," he said, according to Kyodo News.

Abe and Koike have been political rivals since the independent Governor left the Prime Minister's Liberal Democratic Party in 2017.

Koike's handling of the pandemic has been widely approved by Tokyo citizens in comparison to the approach of Abe, who has generally received criticism for not introducing enough social restrictions.

"I will firmly overcome the pandemic with the help of the power of the Government, and lead to the Olympic and Paralympics as a proof of our victory," Koike added.

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Yuriko Koike has been elected for a second term as Tokyo Governor ©Getty Images

In an exit poll ran during the election by Japanese public broadcaster NHK, 63 per cent of respondents approved Koike's handling of the COVID-19 crisis.

She is now looking to launch a Centre for Disease Control in Tokyo to help cope with the spread of the virus, after new daily cases topped 100 for a fifth consecutive day.

Since Koike allowed businesses to open again on June 19, there has been a rise in daily cases, roughly tripling since the re-opening date.

Speaking after her victory, she said: "I will protect Tokyoites' lives and livelihood against the coronavirus and devise an economic strategy."

To date, there have been more than 19,700 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Japan, resulting in the deaths of 977 people.

Tokyo's daily new cases rate yesterday was 102, down from the most recent peak of 131 on July 4.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics were scheduled to start this month, but are now due to take place in July and August of 2021 because of the global health crisis.

A survey conducted by the Japan News Network has suggested that 77 per cent of Japanese people believe the Games cannot go ahead next year, however, amid fears that the pandemic will not have subsided.

The postponement of Tokyo 2020 has caused a huge logistical challenge for organisers, who have repeatedly said that a second delay to the dates will not be possible.

By Michael Houston 

 

 

 

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