TOKYO (JAPAN) – As new COVID-19 cases trend lower regional Japanese governments have requested emergency pandemic measures to be lifted ahead of the March 7 scheduled end, said the country’s economy minister said, adding that the government will seek expert views before agreeing.
Three western prefectures along with three more in the central and southern parts of Japan have requested the state of emergency be lifted as early as this week, Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said late on Tuesday.
Tokyo and neighbouring prefectures will remain under the state of emergency, Nishimura said.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will meet ministers on Wednesday to discuss lifting the state of emergency in the six regional prefectures, with a final decision expected on Friday, local media reported.
Japan announced a state of emergency last month for 11 prefectures after a surge in cases, requesting residents to curtail activities and businesses to shorten operating hours.
The state of emergency would likely be lifted in stages though businesses would be asked to continue closing early, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said on Wednesday.
New infections in Tokyo have fallen to levels not seen since November. Japan recorded 1,083 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, national broadcaster NHK reported, compared with a peak of almost 8,000 on Jan. 8.