Weekly Fact-Check

Japan Fact-Checks, June 26: COVID-19 Testing and News from India


Beginning this week we share FactCheck Initiative Japan’s “English FactChecks Report,” a weekly report including notable cases of Japan-related fact-checking by FIJ’s global partners, other fact-checks at a glance, and more.

Notable Case

False: PCR test also detects common cold viruses (fact-checked by InFact on June 18, 2020)

Takeda Kunihiko, a professor at Chūbu University, said on YouTube: “PCR testing is pointless to detect COVID-19 as the PCR test detects not only the ‘Wuhan cold’ but also the ‘common cold.’ Both tests will come out positive.” This video was widely watched and played over 75,000 times.

However, in the video, while Takeda points out that the genes of the new coronavirus and the coronavirus that causes the common cold are similar, he does not provide any information to back up his claim that the PCR tests also detect coronaviruses for the common cold. According to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases testing manual and an analytical article by the Research Institute for Microbial Diseases, all PCR tests have been conducted using information based on the genetic information (RNA sequence) of the new coronavirus that has already been sequenced and released by Chinese research groups.

Professional medical organizations point out that false positives and false negatives in PCR tests can occur depending on the conditions of specimen collection and storage. However, it does not mean that PCR tests are unable to distinguish between the new coronaviruses and other coronaviruses. We, therefore, rate this information as “false.”

The original fact-checking report in Japanese is on the InFact website.

Fact-Checks at a Glance

We picked up the following fact-checks relating to Japan from overseas media.

False: The United States is not able to sell anything in Japan since the 1945 nuclear attacks due to patriotism (India; fact-checked by Factly on June 17, 2020)

Explanation: Japan was the fourth largest export market for the United States in 2019. On the Office of the United States Trade Representative website, it can be read that US goods exports to Japan in 2019 totaled $74.7 billion. Amazon.com is one of the most popular e-commerce websites in Japan, and many US companies’ products can be found listed on the website. Hence the claim made is false. Also, a similar claim circulated in March 2019. Read the full article here (English).

False: “I Stand With India”: Fake Accounts of World Leaders (India; fact-checked by the Quint on June 19, 2020)

Explanation: Several impersonating accounts of world leaders including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Donald Trump, and Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzō have been tweeting that they support India amid the ongoing tensions between India and China. None of the tweets have a official Twitter “blue-tick” verification, so they are fake accounts. Read the full article here (English).

Announcements and News

(Originally published in English by FactCheck Initiative Japan; edited by Nippon.com.)

India COVID-19 pandemic