Japan leader Shinzo Abe's video at home with pet dog prompts social media backlash

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is promoting the anti-flu drug Avigan to treat patients diagnosed with Covid-19. CNN's Will Ripley reports from Tokyo.

Posted: Apr 13, 2020 4:41 AM
Updated: Apr 13, 2020 4:41 AM

Japanese social media users have accused Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of being tone-deaf after he posted a video of himself relaxing at home as people across the country struggle to work from home.

During the coronavirus pandemic, many multinational companies have turned to messaging and video conferencing software such as Slack and Webex to keep in touch with colleagues. But in Japan, about 80% of companies do not have the ability to let their employees work remotely, according to 2019 government data.

Posted on Twitter, the video shows Abe reading a book, sipping a hot drink and relaxing with his pet dog as a musician serenades him online from another location.

"We can't see our friends or go out drinking. However, such (staying at home) actions are saving many lives and relieves the strain on healthcare professionals who are facing very challenging circumstances," tweeted Abe. "Thanks to every single individual for their cooperation."

Abe's tweet urging people to stay at home comes as large parts of Japan entered a first weekend under a state of emergency.

Earlier in April, Abe faced public backlash after he said the government would distribute two reusable cloth face masks to roughly 50 million households amid growing concern over medical shortages.

The number of confirmed cases has spiked in recent days, after it appeared that Japan's initial response had brought the virus relatively under control. As of Monday, at least 7,967 cases have been reported across the country, including 712 cases linked to the Diamond Princess Cruise ship, according to Japan's health ministry.

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