Japan’s prime minister on Thursday lifted a state of emergency imposed due to the coronavirus for the majority of the country but kept it in place for top cities Tokyo and Osaka.
After fears the virus could explode in Japan, new infections have come down sharply, enabling the government to end the measure in 39 out of 47 prefectures before it was due to expire on May 31.
But with new cases still emerging daily in Tokyo, Osaka and the northern island of Hokkaido, Shinzo Abe told reporters in a televised news conference that the state of emergency would be kept in place for those regions.
“If possible, before May 31, we would like to lift the state of emergency for the other regions as well,” he said.
“It’s going to be a long road ahead,” Abe warned, asking residents to continue to refrain from going out and visiting other regions.
He also urged Japan’s 126 million people to remain alert to prevent a possible fresh outbreak.
“If each of us fails to exercise full vigilance, the future in two weeks time is unpredictable. The second declaration of a state of emergency is possible,” he warned.
– ‘Cluster-focused approach’ –
Japan’s state of emergency falls far short of the toughest measures seen in parts of Europe and the United States.
It allows local governors to urge people to stay at home and call on businesses to remain shut.