Koike Says Tokyo Likely to Be Suspended From Travel Plan: Asahi

Tokyo is in talks with the Japanese government for the city to be temporarily removed from a nationwide travel subsidy program, Asahi Shimbun reported.

Governor Yuriko Koike told reporters she discussed the issue with Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura on Sunday afternoon, the newspaper said. The government wants Koike to temporarily stop people from visiting the city under the program, and is asking Tokyo to encourage residents to hold off travel to other parts of Japan, the report said, citing a government official familiar with the matter.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s cabinet has seen its approval rating drop to 40% because of dissatisfaction with the way the government has handled the coronavirus crisis, according to a Mainichi Shimbun opinion poll conducted on Saturday. The health ministry reported Japan had more than 3,000 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, which local media said was a record.

Suga’s government has doubled down on its bet that promoting domestic tourism will help shore up the economy through the pandemic. The “Go To” national travel subsidy campaign, which aims to boost the economy by discounting travel, has come under fire because of concerns it may be linked to a surge in Covid-19 infections.

Rising virus cases in Tokyo and Nagoya mean the government may halt the “Go To” campaign to those cities for now, local media reported on Sunday. The government is considering suspending the two areas from the program until Dec. 25, FNN reported, without saying where it got the information.

“We’ve been discussing the issue and measures with governors of cities with areas designated stage three,” Nishimura, who’s in charge of coronavirus policy, told NHK on Sunday.

Asked whether he was considering a suspension of the travel subsidy campaign nationwide, Nishimura said he doesn’t think there are risks in regions where infections haven’t risen, such as the prefectures of Shimane and Tottori.

Tokyo has already asked people aged 65 and older and those with underlying health conditions to refrain from making trips to or from the capital under the travel subsidy campaign until Dec. 17.

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