Japan’s Abe to Extend National State of Emergency Until May 31
(Bloomberg) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to extend the national state of emergency over the coronavirus outbreak until May 31.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike confirmed in a live-streamed video on Sunday that Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told her the government will extend the emergency status until the end of the month.
Abe on Thursday signaled it would be difficult to lift the emergency on May 6 as originally planned, citing severe conditions in the health-care system. The extension means regional governors, who are largely in favor of keeping the measures, will continue to be empowered to direct businesses to close and to urge private citizens to stay in their homes.
The number of new confirmed coronavirus cases in the world’s third-largest economy is on a downward trend, raising hopes that the government measures have had some effect. Experts have warned of the risks of letting the guard down too soon, while limited testing makes it hard to assess the true scale of infections.
Japan had about 14,800 Covid-19 cases as of Sunday, the lowest official tally among Group of Seven leading democracies. Tokyo, the nation’s worst-hit region, announced 160 new cases on May 2, compared with a peak of 201 two weeks earlier. More than 4,000 people are infected in the capital.
“It would be difficult to return to our previous lives on May 7,” Abe told reporters Thursday. “We need to prepare for something of a protracted battle.” He said he would consult experts about the length of the extension and announce it ahead of time to allow time for preparation.
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