Reuters | |

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Friday he would step down, setting the stage for a new premier after a one-year tenure marred by an unpopular COVID-19 response and rapidly dwindling public support.

Suga, who took over after Shinzo Abe resigned last September citing ill health, has seen his support ratings sink to below 30% as the nation struggles with its worst wave of COVID-19 infections ahead of a general election this year.

Reuters | |

A contaminant found in a batch of Moderna Inc's COVID-19 vaccines delivered to Japan is believed to be a metallic particle, Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported, citing sources at the health ministry.

Japan on Thursday suspended the use of 1.63 million doses shipped to 863 vaccination centers nationwide, more than a week after the domestic distributor, Takeda Pharmaceutical, received reports of contaminants in some vials.

AP News | |

Japan expanded a coronavirus state of emergency to four more areas in addition to Tokyo on Friday following record spikes in infections as the capital hosts the Olympics.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared an emergency in Saitama, Kanagawa and Chiba, near Tokyo, as well as in the western city of Osaka, effective Monday until Aug. 31. Emergency measures already in place in Tokyo and the southern island of Okinawa will be extended until the end of August, after the Olympics and well into the Paralympics which start Aug. 24.

Kimberly Redmond | |

Toyota Motor Corporation, one of the top corporate sponsors for the 2020 Tokyo Games, plans to pull its Olympic-themed TV commercials in Japan, where a majority of the people remain opposed to hosting the international sporting event in the middle of a global pandemic.

On Monday, Toyota’s chief communications officer Jun Nagata told reporters, “There are many issues with these Games that are proving difficult to be understood.”

Reuters | |

Investors' interest in equity markets continued unabated in the latest week, with U.S. and Japanese stock market fund flows accelerating to multi-week highs at the expense of investment in fixed income funds, BofA said on Friday.

While global equity funds attracted $18.7 billion in the week to Wednesday, U.S.-focused ones took in $9 billion for their largest inflows in four weeks. Flows to Japanese stocks were the biggest in eight weeks at $1.5 billion, BofA said, analyzing data from EPFR.

Kimberly Redmond | |

An Olympic athlete and staff member associated with the upcoming Summer Games in Tokyo tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving in Japan, organizers said Thursday.

The two individuals, who were not identified, were among six new cases reported by the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee. Altogether, 26 infections of games participants and workers have been reported by organizers since July 1.

Kimberly Redmond | |

Amid an increase in COVID-19 cases, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared a state of emergency in Tokyo — just two weeks before the Summer Olympics are scheduled to begin in the city.

The state of emergency will begin Monday, July 12, and run through Aug. 22, while the games are scheduled from July 23 to Aug. 8, Suga announced Thursday.

Kimberly Redmond | |

Amid declining COVID-19 infections and continued vaccination efforts, Japanese officials may allow domestic spectators at the upcoming Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

On Wednesday, The Asahi Shimbun reported that the Japanese government and 2020 games organizers could decide by June 20, when the current state of emergency in Tokyo is due to expire.

Reuters | |

A Japanese Olympic Committee board member on Friday blasted organizers of the Tokyo Games for ignoring public concerns about holding the global sporting showpiece amid a pandemic, as Japan's top medical adviser urged new steps to reduce the risk.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) appeared to think it could steamroll over the wishes of the Japanese public, who, surveys show, overwhelmingly want the games canceled or postponed, the JOC's Kaori Yamaguchi said in an opinion piece carried by Japan's Kyodo news agency.

Kimberly Redmond | |

With much of Japan still under a state of emergency due to a spike in COVID-19 infections, a group representing 6,000 physicians in Tokyo has called for the cancellation of the upcoming Summer Olympics.

In an open letter to Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, the Tokyo Medical Practitioners Association wrote that hospitals “have their hands full” and almost no capacity left to handle a potential outbreak triggered by the international sporting event.