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Japan to watch WHO probe of director’s alleged racism, abuse

TOKYO (AP) – Japan’s government said on Friday it will watch the World Health Organization’s (WHO) investigation into staff complaints over racism and abuse by a top Japanese official at the agency but denied it inappropriately received sensitive vaccine information from him.

Meanwhile in Geneva, France’s diplomatic mission said that if the allegations are proven to be true, the possible consequences include the termination of the WHO director’s contract. An investigation by the Associated Press (AP) this week found WHO staffers alleged that Dr Takeshi Kasai, the United Nations (UN) health agency’s top director in the Western Pacific, engaged in unethical, racist and abusive behaviour, undermining WHO’s efforts to curb the coronavirus pandemic, according to an internal complaint filed last October.

The complaints were also emailed to senior WHO leaders last week and describe a “toxic atmosphere” with “a culture of systemic bullying” at WHO’s regional headquarters in the Philippines. Recordings obtained by the AP also showed that Kasai, who heads a vast region that includes China and Japan, made derogatory remarks about his staff based on nationality during meetings.

World Health Organization Regional Director for Western Pacific Dr Takeshi Kasai. PHOTO: AP