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Japanese lawmakers closely watching torch relay amid pandemic

  • March 25, 2021
  • , Jiji Press , 6:49 p.m.
  • English Press

Tokyo, March 25 (Jiji Press)–Japanese lawmakers are keeping a close watch on the 121-day Tokyo Olympic torch relay that kicked off on Thursday amid signs of COVID-19 resurgence.

Members of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s ruling coalition hope that the relay will build the momentum and create excitement for the Tokyo Games as opinion polls show many people in Japan want the event to be canceled or postponed again.

Suga skipped the relay starting ceremony held in Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan, focusing instead on parliamentary proceedings about his government’s budget.

“We’ll proceed with preparations to ensure a safe and secure games without a resurgence of infections,” Suga told a parliamentary committee.

Speaking to reporters separately, Suga said the torch relay gives the people “a precious opportunity to feel that the start of the Olympics and Paralympics is nearing. I want the momentum to be heightened in each region.”

Natsuo Yamaguchi, head of Komeito, the coalition partner of Suga’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, said the relay “will take a long time, but we hope to keep passing the torch until the beginning of the games.”

Opposition lawmakers are concerned about a possible resurgence in COVID-19 cases.

“I believe that a rebound (in COVID-19 cases) has started at almost exactly the same time as the start of the torch relay,” Yuichiro Tamaki, leader of the opposition Democratic Party for the People, told a press conference. “I’m having a great sense of crisis.”

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