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Baseless post ties Shinzo Abe’s assassination to COVID-19 policies

July 11, 2022 GMT

CLAIM: As prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe went against orders from the World Economic Forum and declined to mandate COVID-19 vaccines, rejected 1.6 million doses of the drug and gave citizens ivermectin.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. Abe was no longer prime minister when Japan’s COVID-19 vaccinations began in 2021. While it’s true the country did not mandate the shots, it did not provide the parasite drug ivermectin instead. Due to contamination, more than 1 million doses of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine were recalled in September, but Japan continued to vaccinate people against the virus.

THE FACTS: Following Abe’s assassination on July 8, social media users began sharing a meme that falsely ties the killing to the country’s vaccine policies. It’s not clear yet what the motive of Abe’s suspected gunman is. Police and media reports suggest that it wasn’t political, The Associated Press reported.

“Assassinated Japanese P.M. didn’t follow WEF orders. Didn’t mandate vaccines, sent 1.6 million doses back and gave citizens ivermectin,” stated one false tweet using the acronym for the World Economic Forum.

Japan began offering vaccinations against COVID-19 after the February 2021 approval of Pfizer’s vaccine. That was months after Abe announced on August 28, 2020, he was resigning as prime minister after his ulcerative colitis recurred.

Although Japan did not mandate the vaccine, Japan had administered more than 280 million doses of the vaccine by July.

For months social media users have been spreading false claims that Japan pulled COVID-19 vaccines and authorized Ivermectin, a drug used to treat infections of roundworms and other parasites in humans and animals. Ivermectin is not listed by the Japanese government as an approved drug to treat COVID-19, according to the Japan Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency.

Last year, more than 1.63 million COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna Inc. were recalled in Japan because of contamination. According to AP reporting, Moderna and its partner in Japan pulled the vaccines in August, after tiny particles of stainless steel were found in some vials. An investigation at a Spanish factory that produced those doses concluded that the contamination occurred while placing stops on the vials.

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This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.