As the host of the Tokyo Olympics, the Paralympics were voted domestic top news in 2021

The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympic Games in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic have been voted the top domestic news story of 2021 by senior editors of Kyodo News and its member or subscriber newspapers and broadcasters.

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

The Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, which were postponed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, took place largely behind closed doors in order to contain the spread of infections.

Amid Japanese public concern over hosting the Summer Games during the pandemic, when the capital and other parts of the country were in a state of COVID-19 emergency, Japanese athletes stood out by winning a total of 58 medals, including a record 27 Gold at the Olympic Games and 51 medals, including 13 gold, at the Paralympics.

Special page on the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo

Japan’s delegation marches behind closed doors at the National Stadium in Tokyo during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics on July 23, 2021. (Kyodo)

(2) Japan repeatedly experienced the COVID-19 state of emergency

After the first state of emergency declared in April 2020, the Japanese government imposed a fourth state of emergency in April 2020, in which alcohol-serving companies were told to shut down, over Tokyo in an attempt to curb the spread of coronavirus infections in July Coronavirus cases exceeded 25,000 per day at 1st point.

People wearing face masks walk on the 29th (Kyodo)

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

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said abruptly on September 3 that he would step down as his cabinet suffered low approval ratings due to his inability to contain the spread of coronavirus infections. Fumio Kishida became the country’s 100th Prime Minister after winning a runoff for the presidency of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party on September 29 and presenting his first cabinet on October 4.

Japan’s newly elected Liberal Democratic Party President Fumio Kishida (R) 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) “Fifth wave” of COVID-19 leads to a crisis in the health system

The so-called “fifth wave of infections”, led by the spread of the highly transmissible delta variant of the coronavirus, is putting a strain on the country’s health system. The number of cases of COVID-19 patients not admitted to hospitals has increased due to a lack of hospital beds. In Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo, a newborn baby died when his mother, who was infected with the virus, could not find a hospital.

Nurses are caring for a COVID-19 patient with severe symptoms in an enclosed room at Juntendo University Hospital in Tokyo on August 6, 2021, with the virus continuing to rage in the capital. (Kyodo)

(5) Japan’s ruling LDP retains a majority in the lower house

Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party secured 261 of the 465 House seats in the October 31 parliamentary elections, enough to effectively control all of the standing committees. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida presented his second cabinet on November 10th.

In Tokyo, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida attached a rose window to the name of a candidate from the Liberal Democratic Party who is assured of victory in the House of Representatives elections on October 31, 2021. (Kyodo)

(6) Japan is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the massive earthquake disaster

On March 11, Japan celebrated the 10th anniversary of the severe earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan. More than 18,000 people died or went missing because of the disaster that triggered a nuclear accident at a power plant in Fukushima Prefecture. After the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, around 40,000 people still live far from their homes.

Special page on 3/11 Fukushima: 10 years later

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

(7) Marry Princess Mako, boyfriend Kei Komuro

Princess Mako, a niece of Emperor Naruhito, married their mutual friend Kei Komuro on October 26 after years of controversy over a financial dispute over Komuro’s mother that led the couple to forego traditional ceremonies related to a royal marriage. In November, the newlyweds left Japan for a new life in the United States.

Former Japanese Princess Mako, a niece of Emperor Naruhito, and her husband Kei Komuro will appear in front of the press at a Tokyo hotel on October 26, 2021 after their wedding on the same day. She became Mako Komuro under a family registry with Komuro. (Kyodo)

(8) Massive mudslide hits the spa town of Atami, central Japan, after torrential rains

A massive mudslide triggered by torrential rain flooded a residential area in Atami, a hot health resort in Shizuoka Prefecture, southwest of Tokyo, on July 3, leaving 27 dead or missing. Bereaved families and local businessmen filed lawsuits against the current and former owners of the land on which the landslide started, demanding a total of approximately 3.2 billion yen ($ 28 million) in damages.

The file photo dated July 3, 2021 shows the location of a large mudslide that was triggered by torrential rains in the city of Atami in Shizuoka Prefecture, southwest of Tokyo. (Kyodo)

(9) Over 70% of the population in Japan vaccinated against COVID-19

Over 70 percent of the population in Japan is currently fully vaccinated against COVID-19 after the government launched the vaccination program in February. The rate of vaccination sped up to 1 million vaccinations per day in the summer and booster vaccinations for healthcare professionals began in December.

Elderly people wait after receiving vaccinations for the coronavirus on May 25, 2021 at a newly opened vaccination center in Kobe, western Japan. (Kyodo)

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

Shogi prodigy Sota Fujii won the prestigious Ryuo Championship on November 13 with a four-game sweep over Masayuki Toyoshima. At the age of 19 years and three months, he became the youngest player in history to hold four major titles. It broke the previous record of Yoshiharu Habu, who held four major titles in 1993 at 22 years and nine months before winning the seven majors in 1996.

Teenage shogi player Sota Fujii poses at a hotel in Yamaguchi Prefecture, western Japan, on November 13, 2021 after winning Ryuo, the Shogi’s most prestigious title, from Masayuki Toyoshima in the fourth match of the best-of-seven series. (Kyodo)


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