Prime Minister of Japan Yoshihide Suga is postponing plans to visit India and the Philippines on a trip originally set for the end of the month, media said on Wednesday. Suga will instead focus on handling a recent surge in coronavirus cases, broadcaster FNN and other media said.
Japan’s government is considering a state of emergency for Tokyo and several other prefectures while Indian data showed on Wednesday there had been 295,041 new infections nationwide overnight and 2,023 deaths, India’s highest in the pandemic.
Asked about media reports that Suga’s trip to the two countries has been cancelled, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said, “In order to take all possible coronavirus countermeasures, it has been decided Prime Minister Suga won’t take any overseas trips during the Golden Week.”
Japan and India are members of a group known as the Quad, which also includes the United States and Australia.
Quad leaders last month pledged to work to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific region and to cooperate on maritime, cyber and economic security, issues vital to the four democracies in the face of challenges from China.
Suga’s India trip would have enabled him to hold his first in-person summit meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Suga has already held face-to-face talks with two other leaders from the Quad — US President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
The visit had been scheduled from late April to early May and was intended to reaffirm Japan’s cooperation with the two countries to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific as countries in the region were looking at ways to counter China’s aggressive rise and military buildup.
India and the Philippines are grappling with their own surge in Covid-19 cases, which may have played a part in the decision to cancel the trip, the Japan Times said in its report.