New Delhi: Japan’s Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso has said the World Health Organization (WHO) should be renamed as the “Chinese Health Organization” as he accused the global body of toeing the China line on the coronavirus pandemic.
Addressing lawmakers at the House of Representatives in Tokyo, Aso slammed WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus for what he called his “inadequate evaluation to address the coronavirus outbreak“.
He also referenced to a petition on change.org calling for Ghebreyesus to resign over his handling of the pandemic.
“At least the petition has received 500,000 signatures. People think the World Health Organization should change its name…it shouldn’t be called the WHO, it should be renamed the CHO (or Chinese Health Organization). This is truly resonating with the people,” Aso said.
The petition has now received nearly 7 lakh signatures worldwide. It was started by Osuka Yip and blames the WHO chief for underestimating Covid-19 and refusing to “declare China virus outbreak as a global health emergency” in late January.
It goes on to allege that WHO was not politically neutral and says: “Without any investigation, Ghebreyesus solely believes on the death and infected numbers that the Chinese government provided them with.”
The petition further states that Taiwan should not be excluded from the WHO for political reasons. Taiwan has been locked out of membership in the WHO due to its complex relationship with China.
“Early on, if the WHO had not insisted to the world that China had no pneumonia epidemic, then everybody would’ve taken precautions. The WHO, which is a global organisation, does not even include Taiwan. And then precisely because Taiwan is not a member of the WHO, it becomes a world leader in fighting the epidemic,” Aso said Saturday.
The Japanese deputy prime minister also accused the former director general of the global health body — Margaret Chan — of poor accountability. He went on to add that Ghebreyesus was no better for giving into China’s spin about the coronavirus.
Japan’s fight with Covid-19
Japan has reported more than 2,300 cases of coronavirus, while close to 60 people have died so far. This is excluding the Diamond Princess cruise ship harboured at Yokohama. The cruise ship has reported more than 700 cases of Covid-19 and 11 deaths.
The pandemic that has affected more than 200 countries in the world also led to the postponement of the 2020 Summer Olympics, which were meant to take place in Tokyo.
Japan had invested 35 trillion yen, which is equivalent to $12.35 billion, for the sporting event. The budget for the Tokyo Olympics was split between the organising committee and the local and national governments, while the International Olympic Committee also contributed more than $800 million.