Japan presses on with Olympics preparations despite surging coronavirus cases

COVID-19 Japan extends state of emergency

"A very careful decision is therefore required of the government", he said. Japan is now assessed as being in the highest stage 4 of the alert level based on the government's guidelines.

"Beginning with Osaka, we'll look at the situation in prefectures where the situation is serious and, after consulting experts, promptly decide on (whether to declare) a state of emergency", Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato, the government spokesperson, told reporters after the meeting.

Japan's health ministry announced it had detected the variant in four travellers from Brazil's Amazonas state, which had 12 mutations - including one also found in highly infectious variants discovered in England and South Africa.

The one-off financial aid targets businesses such as those supplying chopsticks, napkins and hand towels to dining and drinking establishments in Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures that have been asked to stop serving alcohol by 7 p.m. and close by 8 p.m. under the state of emergency that will last until Feb 7.

It will mean about 55 per cent of Japan's population will be under restrictions. "I believe we will be able to attain the goal if we push it thoroughly".

Concerning restaurants, he underlined the need to impose a penalty for operators that do not comply with authorities' request for temporary closure or for shorter operating hours.

Suga stressed that promptly revising the special measures law to fight the coronavirus to add a provision concerning the penalty will be a top priority when an ordinary Diet session opens on January 18.

Data has shown the number of people in downtown districts in Tokyo has declined by about half compared to previous weekends - but Shibuya's scramble crossing still had 3.1 times as many people as in the previous state of emergency.

Suga also indicated that he will create an environment for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games to be held "safely" by generating certain results by spring in the fight against the pandemic.

The loss corresponds to 0.40 percent of Japan's annual gross domestic product in nominal terms, with residents' income in the capital and the other 10 prefectures including Osaka, Aichi and Fukuoka accounting for 60.6 percent of the country's economy, Kiuchi said.

Is the state of emergency response too late?

Japan will take additional measures at the border to prevent imported infections, PM Suga said.



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