Japan to expand virus emergency beyond Tokyo region

Kyodo News

Posted at Jan 11 2021 10:38 PM | Updated as of Jan 12 2021 06:33 PM

TOKYO (UPDATE) — Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told executives of his ruling party Tuesday that he plans to expand a state of emergency declared over the coronavirus pandemic to cover Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures amid a resurgence of infections in western Japan.

The governors of Aichi and Gifu also requested the central government to include the two central Japan prefectures in the fresh state of emergency that took effect in Tokyo and the three adjacent prefectures of Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama on Friday.

Suga told executives of the Liberal Democratic Party at a meeting that he wanted to make "a swift decision" on whether to include the three western prefectures, an LDP lawmaker quoted him as saying.

"There are regions (in the country), including Osaka, that have seen a spike in infections, so we will consider whether to expand the area (of the emergency)," Suga said at a separate meeting of the ruling coalition, according to a lawmaker.

According to government sources, final arrangements are being made for Suga to declare a new state of emergency in the three prefectures on Wednesday.

The government is also considering whether it will issue a state of emergency for Aichi and Gifu prefectures at the same time on Wednesday, the sources said.

Under the state of emergency, people are urged to stay at home as much as possible and restaurants and bars are requested to shorten opening hours. There is no punishment for those who fail to comply, unlike the hard lockdowns some other parts of the world have imposed.

On Tuesday, following a three-day weekend, Tokyo confirmed 970 additional cases of the virus. It is the first time since Jan. 4 that the figure has slipped below 1,000.

Osaka Prefecture, which appeared to be containing the spread of the virus at the year-end, reported more than 3,800 new cases in the week through Monday. Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures have also reported record-high daily figures.

Ahead of the expected expansion of the state of emergency, Hyogo Prefecture requested restaurants and bars in parts of the prefecture to close by 9 p.m. Osaka and Kyoto prefectures, meanwhile, have extended the duration of similar requests for shortened operations by such establishments.

The resurgence of infections since November last year has been increasing the strain on the country's medical system.

In April, Japan declared a state of emergency for some of the country's 47 prefectures and later extended it nationwide. The government fully lifted it in late May.


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