With the Tokyo Olympics just several weeks away,.. the leader of Japan's main opposition party is questioning Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's assurances that the Games can be held safely.
Yukio Edano, head of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, said Monday that it's impossible to protect the lives, health and livelihoods of the Japanese people while holding a global sporting event.
Edano said it would be unacceptable if the Games lead to new COVID-19 variants being brought in from overseas.
He also slammed the government for prematurely lifting the previous state of emergency in late March, saying it caused the number of virus cases to rebound quickly.
Asked during a parliamentary committee meeting whether the Olympics will go on even if COVID-19 infections continue to spike in Japan, Suga insisted he has never put the Olympics ahead of the Japanese public.
"I've never put the Olympics first. My priority has been to protect the lives and health of the Japanese population. Let me address that clearly. In terms of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, it is important that we must first prevent the spread of the virus."
Japan on Monday reported 4,937 new COVID-19 cases, despite fewer tests being done over the weekend.
That's the highest number of cases reported in Japan on a Monday since the start of the pandemic.
The country also reported a record one,152 critically ill patients.
However, the IOC, the organizers of the Tokyo Olympics and the Prime Minister himself,.. continue to insist the Games will go on in a safe and secure way.
However, a recent opinion poll by the Japanese daily, the Yomiuri Shimbun, showed nearly 60-percent of the Japanese public wanted the Games to be called off.
Lee Seung-jae, Arirang News.