Japan considering extending virus emergency beyond May 11, report says

The central government is considering an extension of the coronavirus state of emergency for Tokyo and three other prefectures that was scheduled to end on May 11, a report said Wednesday.

Japan had placed Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures under a 17-day state of emergency on April 25 in an effort to reverse the surge in coronavirus infections.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will meet with the economics minister, the health minister, and other relevant Cabinet ministers later Wednesday to discuss an extension, the Yomiuri Newspaper reported without citing sources.

An extension of the emergency restrictions would come with fewer than three months left until the start of the Tokyo Olympics, fanning persistent concerns over whether they can be held as planned.

Suga told an infectious disease expert on Tuesday that he is finding it “difficult” to decide whether to lift the country’s third state of emergency, the expert, Nobuhiko Okabe, said the same day.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga speaks during a news conference on COVID-19 situation, in Tokyo on April 23. | POOL / VIA REUTERS
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga speaks during a news conference on COVID-19 situation, in Tokyo on April 23. | POOL / VIA REUTERS

Meeting with Okabe, a special adviser to the Cabinet and member of the government’s advisory board on the coronavirus pandemic, at the Prime Minister’s Office, Suga said that infection numbers are not coming down, according to Okabe.

The two also exchanged opinions about the requests made by prefectures across the country for putting them in the coronavirus quasi-emergency stage, where stronger measures similar to those under a state of emergency can be taken. When Okabe said that measures should be taken in such prefectures as soon as possible, Suga said he felt the same way.

After the meeting with Suga, Okabe told reporters, “I think the prime minister is very much worried” about lifting the state of emergency.

“A certain judgment must be made just a short while after the (Golden Week) holiday period ends,” Okabe added.

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