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Japan PM tests positive for COVID-19, symptoms mild

TOKYO (AFP) – Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has tested positive for COVID, his office said yesterday, a week before the leader was expected to attend an African development conference in Tunisia.

Kishida took a PCR test “after experiencing a mild temperature and a cough” from Saturday evening, an official from the Prime Minister’s Office of Japan told AFP. Reports in local media including public broadcaster NHK said he may now attend the August 27 to 28 Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) remotely.

Japan has logged record COVID-19 cases in recent days, although its total death toll from the disease is far lower than many other countries, at 36,780.

The 65-year-old Kishida, who took office in October, had his fourth vaccine shot earlier this month.

He has been on holiday with his family and was due to return to work today.

Japan has never imposed a strict lockdown, and anti-infection measures mainly targetting cafes and restaurant opening hours were lifted in March across the country.

The nation’s borders have partially re-opened although tourists are still banned unless they are on organised group trips.

Tokyo has partnered with African countries since 1993 to hold TICAD around every five years. At the upcoming meeting, Japan will strongly support “African-led development” with a focus on economy, society, and peace and stability, a Japanese Foreign Ministry document said.

Japan would also contribute to food security in Africa to address the food crisis due to the situation in Ukraine, the document said.

File photo shows Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaking at a press conference. PHOTO: AFP