TOKYO -- Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga rejected the idea of canceling the Olympics despite repeated advice from figures close to him to do so, according to remarks he made in an interview published in the July 21 Japanese edition of The Wall Street Journal.
Along with the revelation, Suga outlined his reasons for proceeding with the games, saying, "Quitting is the simplest, easiest thing. The government's role is to take on challenges."
Regarding the decision to go ahead with the Olympics, Suga explained, "Numbers (in Japan) are low compared to figures including the number of infected people abroad, which can include an extra zero or more." Vaccines are going ahead, and we're being tough on infection prevention measures, so the conditions have come together."
Suga refuted the view that Japan has been forced to hold the games by the International Olympic Committee, saying, "Japan put itself forward for the bid. We would reject attempts to be forced to hold the games if they occurred."
On widespread doubts domestically about holding the Olympics, Suga expressed confidence, saying he thinks the public mindset will change once the competition starts and people can watch the events on TV. He also mentioned that he is particularly looking forward to watching on TV the karate events, as he practiced the martial art in his university days.
The interview took place at the prime minister's office on July 20.
(Japanese original by Shun Kawaguchi, Political News Department)