Japan Fact-checks: Beware of medical statements without evidence

(Issued on June 26, 2020)

Welcome to FIJ’s English FactChecks Report. This is a weekly report that comes in three parts consisting of Notable Case, Fact-checks at a glance, and Announcements & News. 

Notable Case

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

Kunihiko Takeda, a professor at Chubu University, said on YouTube: “PCR test is pointless as a test 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 did 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 (ie: 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 here.

(Miki Ando)

Fact-checks at a glance

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

 1. Fact-checked by: Factly | India (June 17, 2020)

False: “The U.S. is not able to sell anything in Japan since the 1945 nuclear attack due to patriotism.

Explanation: Japan was the fourth largest export market for the U.S. in 2019. On the ‘Office of the United States Trade Representative’ website, it can be read that the U.S. goods exports to Japan in 2019 were US$ 74.7 billion. ‘Amazon’ from America is one of the most popular e-commerce websites in Japan. 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)

 2. Fact-checked by: The Quint | India (June 19, 2020)

False: ‘I Stand With India’: Fake Accounts of World Leaders

Explanation: Several impersonating accounts of world leaders including Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Donald Trump, and Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, 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).

Check out the IFCN’s #CoronaVirusFacts Alliance database of 5,000+ fact-checks from more than 70 countries on the novel coronavirus. Other themes of factcheck can be found on each organization’s website.

Announcements & News

・We continues to welcome offers of factcheck collaboration.

・Please follow our English twitter account for the latest information! 

・For useful Japan-related information resources in English, check us out here.

Hope you stay well,

FIJ researchers team.