Photo/Illutration Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Kyoto University professor Shinya Yamanaka hotly debate issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic on an internet TV program on May 6. (Photo taken from the website)

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe faced pointed questions from a leading scientist about the government’s plans to deal with the novel coronavirus on an internet TV program on May 6.

Shinya Yamanaka, a Nobel Prize-winning stem cell biologist and the director of Kyoto University’s Center for iPS Cell Research and Application, had the chance to quiz the prime minister online and offer him advice on dealing with the pandemic.

The two discussed the problems that come with postponing the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, as well as policy measures to support students.

The Tokyo Olympics, originally to be held this summer, have been postponed to July next year due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

“Japan will lead the development of remedies and vaccines” to make the Olympics successful next year," Abe said. 

But Yamanaka pointed out that the Olympics will attract athletes and spectators from all over the world, bringing a huge influx of visitors to Japan.

“It is very difficult to prepare enough vaccines to make this possible without spreading the virus, unless we have tremendous luck,” he said.

Yamanaka asked Abe to check whether the drugs developed by Japan and approved for treating other diseases, including Avigan, are effective in fighting the new coronavirus, and to ensure effective drugs are approved swiftly.

The program the prime minister appeared on is hosted by Dwango Co., which operates the online video website Niconico Live, in partnership with Yahoo Japan Corp.

Abe joined the discussion from his office and Yamanaka participated from Kyoto.