Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday that the World Health Organization, which faces criticism over its response to the coronavirus pandemic, is in need of reform but stressed that Japan has no plan to stop funding the U.N. agency.
“There are views that it is politically not neutral,” Abe told a press conference, in an apparent reference to criticism including from U.S. President Donald Trump that the WHO has taken stances favorable to China, where the new coronavirus was first reported late last year.
While noting that the WHO has problems and challenges, however, the prime minister said, “I am not considering slashing Japan’s funding (to the agency) at all.”
His stance is a stark contrast with Trump, who said earlier this week that the United States will halt its funding to the WHO due to its perceived failures and mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic.
Following the U.S. move, WHO Director General Tedros Ghebreyesus on Wednesday expressed regret over Trump’s decision and stressed the importance of international cooperation in fighting against the global health crisis.