Japan expected to extend COVID-19 state of emergency: sources

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan is expected to extend a state of emergency on Tuesday to fight the spread of COVID-19 for Tokyo and other areas, three sources with knowledge of the legal procedures said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: People wearing face masks due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak walk in Nagoya, Japan January 13, 2021. Kyodo via REUTERS

The government will decide on the extension after a meeting of its experts panel on Tuesday, with the emergency period in prefectures including the Tokyo area expected to run for another month, the sources said.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is expected to hold a news conference on Tuesday, one source told Reuters.

The government last month declared a one-month state of emergency, due to end on Sunday, for 11 areas here, including Tokyo and its neighbouring prefectures, as part of measures to rein in the pandemic.

Suga has launched a raft of measures to contain a third wave of infections as his government remains determined that the Olympics go ahead as planned on July 23.

But support for his administration has weakened over unhappiness with its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which critics have called too slow and inconsistent.

The government may also consider lifting the state of emergency in some less-populated areas such as Tochigi Prefecture, which has seen a decline in cases, local media said.

A Nikkei newspaper poll showed 90% of respondents favoured extending the emergency period in areas where it is implemented.

Japan has had a total of 390,687 coronavirus cases and 5,766 deaths, public broadcaster NHK said. In Tokyo, new cases totalled 633 on Sunday, below 1,000 for the third consecutive day.

Separately, the lower house is expected to pass on Monday a revision to the coronavirus special measures law, followed by upper house approval on Wednesday, NHK said. The revision would toughen regulations and allow authorities to levy fines on those who break the law.

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