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Japan Virus Woes Pose Existential Threat to Abe Government

  • Sudden moves show prime minister’s growing alarm over outbreak
  • Crisis raises doubts about economy, Olympics and Abe’s legacy
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Can We Overcome Pandemics?
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Shinzo Abe has overcome countless political perils on the road to becoming Japan’s longest-serving prime minister. He may have met his match with the coronavirus.

In a sign of mounting concern, Abe abandoned his relatively mild approach to the epidemic last week with a shock announcement urging schools to shut nationwide from Monday. The move sent millions of parents rushing to arrange childcare and raised doubts about the government’s grasp on a situation threatening to tank the economy, scuttle Tokyo’s plan to host the Summer Olympics in four months and tarnish Abe’s legacy.