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CDC Chief Medical Officer: Japan, U.S. will cooperate in monitoring infectious diseases

  • June 19, 2022
  • , Nikkei , p. 5
  • JMH Translation

Mitchell Wolfe

By Hana Slevin Ohama


The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will set up an office in Tokyo later this year to build a system to monitor new infectious diseases in East Asia and the Pacific area, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Mitchell Wolfe said in an interview with Nikkei on June 17. He also expressed willingness to cooperate with a “Japanese version of the CDC,” whose establishment the Japanese government has announced. The CDC intends to step up cooperation with Japan in the public health sector through the creation of the new office.


U.S. President Joe Biden announced the plan to set up the CDC’s Japanese office when he visited Japan in May. The office will cover Japan, South Korea, Mongolia, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific area and focus on gathering information on infectious diseases and responding to crises.


The CDC will open an office within the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo by the end of this year and gradually assign personnel to South Korea and other neighboring countries as well.


Wolfe said, “Japan is an important partner with which we have cooperated in the technology and space sectors. We’d like to strengthen cooperation through the new office.” He went on to say, “Japan is showing interest in expanding the role it plays in the health sector in this region, so we’d like to work together.”


Some in the Japanese government expect that the creation of the CDC office will prompt the sharing of data on, for example, genetic information on pathogens that will lead to the research and development of drugs and vaccines.


 “The sharing of monitoring information on respiratory diseases is important for drug development,” Wolfe underscored. “We haven’t drawn up regional strategies for the Japanese office yet, but data-sharing will be a preferential area of cooperation.”


Regarding cooperation with a Japanese version of CDC, he expressed expectations, saying, “We’ve heard an announcement that it will be set up by merging multiple organizations, so we’d like to cooperate [in establishing the Japanese version of CDC].”


He pointed out that the coronavirus pandemic “taught us that a public health threat in any region is a universal risk.” He also stressed, “It’s important to cooperate with countries of all income levels to close the health security gap.”


The CDC has offices in more than 60 countries and has primarily engaged in supporting developing nations. It began to set up offices in South America, Southeast Asia, and two other regions a few years ago to enhance readiness for public health crises. The creation of the Japan office is said to be part of the effort. The CDC also plans to open an office in Panama to cover Central America and the Caribbean region.





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