Joel Jammal, who runs the Turning Point Australia Facebook page, claims Mr Abe’s “chief health officer” told people in Japan to take ivermectin, a move Mr Jammal said was “inspired” by Mr Abe’s leadership.
The claim is false. It appears to be based on a misattribution of comments made by the chairman of the Tokyo Metropolitan Medical Association, an independent medical body with no formal ties to the Japanese government.
“Really interesting fact about Shinzo Abe. I won’t say the word but you know ‘ivy’, that some people used to treat COVID? Well, that was something that Shinzo Abe’s chief health officer over there actually encouraged people to take across the whole country. So I don’t know if people actually did, but it was something that their chief officer, health officer actually had the freedom to actually say, and I think that says a lot about him, his leadership and what that inspired in people,” he says (video mark 49min 32sec).
It’s unclear who Mr Jammal was referring to when he used the term “chief health officer”.
AAP FactCheck found no evidence either Dr Suzuki or Dr Fukushima encouraged the use of ivermectin for COVID-19. Mr Jammal did not respond when contacted for clarification of his claim.
Mr Ozaki again commented on ivermectin on August 13, 2021, with AFP fact check reporting he told a press conference: “Of course, one cannot conclude that ivermectin is effective … (but) we cannot say that ivermectin is absolutely not effective … We can do other studies to confirm its efficacy, but we are in a crisis situation.”
Some people wrongly claimed Mr Ozaki’s comments proved Japan had given the green light to ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19.
Hitoshi Oshitani, a virology expert at Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine, told AAP FactCheck he was unaware of any senior government officials in Japan who had spoken in support of ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment.
“However, I know that some influential persons such as politicians in the ruling party (LDP) made statements to support ivermectin as a treatment,” Professor Oshitani said in an email.
The ministry published guidance for doctors in July 2021 that stated ivermectin “did not improve all-cause mortality, length of hospital stay and virus disappearance time”, when compared to standard treatment or placebo (page 54 – Japanese to English translation here).
“Some people may be using ivermectin. But generally (in Japan), it is not considered effective,” Prof Oshitani said.
The claim former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe’s chief health officer encouraged people to take ivermectin to treat COVID-19 is false. AAP FactCheck could find no evidence a senior Japanese government health official had promoted the drug for COVID-19. In addition, the anti-parasitic drug has never been approved to treat the virus in Japan, the Ministry of Health confirmed.
False – The claim is inaccurate.