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PM Abe defends wife after claim she went to sakura party amid call for social distancing

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe responds to a weekly magazine's report accusing his wife of holding a cherry blossom-viewing party amid the spread of the new coronavirus, during a House of Councillors Budget Committee meeting on March 27, 2020. (Mainichi/Masahiro Kawata)

TOKYO -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe defended his wife during a Diet meeting on March 27 after a weekly magazine published an article accusing her of going to a cherry blossom-viewing party amid calls for the public to refrain from holding such gatherings to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

Weekly magazine Shukan Post reported in its online edition that Abe's wife Akie was at what looked like a private cherry blossom-viewing party. The report included a group photo that the magazine claims was taken in late March.

When Hideya Sugio of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan raised questions about the report during a March 27 House of Councillors Budget Committee meeting, Prime Minister Abe conveyed his wife's explanation that she "met with her acquaintances at a restaurant and they took the photo with cherry trees in the background."

Sugio pushed Abe, asking him, "How can you ask people to refrain from holding cherry blossom parties when this photo is floating around?" Abe hit back at Sugio, telling him he should look at things "calmly and accurately," adding, "It was not a sakura party in a park, like those which the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has asked people not to hold.

(Japanese original by Daisuke Nohara, Political News Department)

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