Coronavirus

Japan Approves Lifting State of Emergency in Three Prefectures

TOKYO — Japan’s economy minister says experts have approved a government plan to remove a coronavirus state of emergency in Osaka and two neighboring prefectures in the west where the infection is deemed slowing, while keeping the measure in place in the Tokyo region and Hokkaido.

Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told reporters that experts at the meeting approved the plan to lift the measure in Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo.

The measure will be kept in place in Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures, as well as Hokkaido, where the infections have slowed but need further improvement.

The three are among the eight prefectures still under the emergency status after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lifted the measure last week in all but eight of the 47 Japanese prefectures. Abe declared the state of emergency on April 7 in parts of Japan including Tokyo and later expanded it to nationwide.

Under Japan’s state of emergency, which does not enforce lockdowns, many people have followed the social distancing requests but others had to continue commuting, while a sizeable minority continued to dine out or picnicked at parks. More stores, restaurants and bars have started to reopen recently, under new anti-infection guidelines.

Abe will formally announce the plan later Thursday after approval by parliamentary committees.

Japan has about 16,424 confirmed cases and 777 deaths as of Wednesday, according to the health ministry.

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