Following the news that certain regions of China are carrying out anal swabs to test for coronavirus, the Tokyo government has requested that Beijing stop using this method on Japanese residents.
For those not in the know, the procedure involves a swab being inserted about three to five centimetres (1.2 to 2 inches) into the patient's rectum, before being rotated several times to collect the sample.
The process, which is carried out by a medical worker, is supposed to take about 10 seconds.
According to Reuters, spokesperson Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said on Monday (1 March) that the government has not received any updates from the Chinese capital indicating it would stop using this process on Japanese citizens.
Speaking at a news conference, Kato said: "Some Japanese reported to our embassy in China that they received anal swab tests, which caused a great psychological pain."
He added that they will continue to urge China to excuse Japanese residents from being subjected to this procedure, noting it 'has not been confirmed anywhere else in the world'.
The news arrives after Washington protested the use of anal swabs on American diplomats in China last month, describing it as 'undignified'.
"The State Department never agreed to this kind of testing and protested directly to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs when we learned that some staff were subject to it," a State Department spokesperson told Vice last month.
The spokesperson said that Beijing assured Washington that the tests were carried out 'in error', adding: "We have instructed staff to decline this test if it is asked of them, as was done in the past."
However, some experts believe the anal swab method is more accurate than a nasal or throat check, meaning it can help detect the virus.
According to Li Tongzeng from the Beijing You'an Hospital, the coronavirus survives longer in excrement or the anus than it does in the throat and nasal passage.
Meanwhile, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters at today's press conference that China has adjusted anti-epidemic measures 'in a scientific manner' in line with 'relevant laws and regulations'.
Back in February, Chinese authorities reassured citizens they won't be walking like 'penguins' after receiving the anal swab, labelling a viral video of people waddling around - allegedly after receiving the test - as fake.
A viral video shows Chinese citizens walking stiffly while leaving a hospital, their arms slightly outreached - much like a penguin.
It was reportedly filmed on 28 January in Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei Province in northern China.
However, after being viewed millions of times on various social media platforms, the footage has been taken down by internet censors.
The Shijiazhuang Internet Report Centre said the video had been edited and doctored to spread 'rumour', citing the municipal health department and a doctor to prove the video was inauthentic in an official post on Weibo.
The authority also stressed that patients would not experience any discomfort after receiving the anal swab.
Words: Daisy Phillipson