Host the Tokyo Olympics and the Paralympics chosen from the best national news of 2021

Hosting the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics amid the coronavirus pandemic has been chosen as the best national report of 2021 by the editors of Kyodo News and its member or subscriber newspapers and broadcasters.

(1) The Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games are held behind closed doors

The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, postponed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, have mostly been held behind closed doors to stem the spread of infections.

Amid Japanese public concern over hosting the Summer Games during the pandemic, as the capital and other parts of the country were under the COVID-19 state of emergency, Japanese athletes excelled winning a total of 58 medals, including a record 27 gold, at the Olympics and 51, including 13 gold, at the Paralympic Games.

Special page on the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games

The Japanese delegation parades during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics held behind closed doors at the National Stadium on July 23, 2021 in Tokyo. (Kyodo)

(2) Japan has repeatedly suffered a COVID-19 state of emergency

The Japanese government imposed a fourth state of emergency, in which establishments serving alcohol were asked to suspend operations, in Tokyo to stem the spread of coronavirus infections in July, after the first declared in April 2020 In August, the number of new coronavirus cases topped 25,000 a day at one point.

People wearing face masks walk on a passage in Tokyo’s Ginza region on May 29, 2021, as the COVID-19 state of emergency remains in place in the capital. (Kyodo)

(3) Prime Minister Suga resigns, successor Kishida forms government

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga abruptly said on September 3 that he would step down as his cabinet suffered from low approval rates due to its failure to contain the spread of coronavirus infections. Fumio Kishida became the country’s 100th prime minister after winning the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s presidential ballot on September 29, launching his first cabinet on October 4.

Newly elected Chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan, Fumio Kishida (right), and his predecessor and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga pose in a Tokyo hotel after winning the ruling party’s presidential election on September 29, 2021 ( Kyodo)

(4) COVID-19 ‘Fifth Wave’ Causes Health System Crisis

The so-called “fifth wave” of infections led by the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus has put a strain on the country’s healthcare system. Cases of COVID-19 patients who have not been admitted to hospitals have increased due to a shortage of hospital beds. In Chiba prefecture, east of Tokyo, a newborn baby has died because his mother, infected with the virus, could not find a hospital.

Nurses care for a COVID-19 patient with severe symptoms in a closed room at Juntendo University Hospital in Tokyo on August 6, 2021, with the virus remaining endemic in the capital. (Kyodo)

(5) The PLD in power in Japan retains the majority in the lower house

Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party won 261 of the 465 seats in the House of Representatives, enough to effectively control all standing committees, in the October 31 general election. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida inaugurated his second cabinet on November 10.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida attaches a rose window in Tokyo on behalf of a Liberal Democratic Party candidate assured of victory in the House of Representatives elections on October 31, 2021. (Kyodo)

(6) Japan celebrates 10th anniversary of massive earthquake

On March 11, Japan celebrated the 10th anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan. More than 18,000 people have died or gone missing as a result of the disaster, which triggered a nuclear accident at a power station in Fukushima Prefecture. About 40,000 people still live far from their homes after the collapse of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Special page 3/11 Fukushima: 10 years later

Children look at lanterns at a memorial event in Natori, Miyagi Prefecture on March 11, 2021, on the 10th anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the northeastern Japanese city . (Kyodo)

(7) Princess Mako and her boyfriend Kei Komuro get married

Princess Mako, a niece of Emperor Naruhito, married her commoner boyfriend Kei Komuro on October 26 after years of controversy over a financial dispute involving Komuro’s mother that led the couple to forgo traditional ceremonies associated with a royal wedding. The newlyweds left Japan to start a new life in the United States in November.

Former Japanese Princess Mako, a niece of Emperor Naruhito, and her husband Kei Komuro face the press at a Tokyo hotel on October 26, 2021, following their wedding earlier today. She became Mako Komuro under a family register with Komuro. (Kyodo)

(8) Massive mudslide hits Atami spa in central Japan after torrential rains

A massive mudslide triggered by torrential rains engulfed a residential area in Atami, a hot spa resort in Shizuoka Prefecture, southwest of Tokyo, on July 3, leaving 27 people dead or missing. Grieving families and local entrepreneurs have taken legal action against current and former owners of the land behind the landslide, claiming a total of approximately 3.2 billion yen ($ 28 million) in damages and interest.

A file photo taken on July 3, 2021 shows the site of a large mudslide triggered by torrential rains in the town of Atami, in Shizuoka Prefecture, southwest of Tokyo. (Kyodo)

(9) More than 70% of the Japanese population vaccinated against COVID-19

More than 70 percent of the population in Japan are currently fully vaccinated against COVID-19 after the government began the vaccination program in February. The pace of vaccination accelerated over the summer to 1 million shots per day, and reminders for healthcare professionals began in December.

Elderly people wait after receiving coronavirus vaccines at a newly opened vaccination center in Kobe, western Japan, May 25, 2021 (Kyodo)

(10) Fujii becomes the youngest holder of 4 major titles in the shogi by winning the Ryuo crown

Shogi prodigy Sota Fujii won the prestigious Ryuo Championship on November 13 with a four-game sweep against Masayuki Toyoshima. Aged 19 years and three months, he becomes the youngest player in history to hold four major titles. He broke the previous record set by Yoshiharu Habu, who held four major titles in 1993 at 22 years and nine months before sweeping the seven majors that existed in 1996.

Teenage shogi player Sota Fujii poses at a hotel in Yamaguchi Prefecture city in Ube, western Japan on November 13, 2021, after winning Ryuo, the shogi’s most prestigious title, against Masayuki Toyoshima in Game 4 of the Best Seven Series. (Kyodo)

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