TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed Friday his concerns over economic damage from a possible lockdown of Tokyo amid the new coronavirus outbreak.
“If a lockdown is enforced in the Japanese capital, that would deal a further serious blow to the country’s economy,” Abe told a meeting of the Budget Committee of the House of Councillors, the upper chamber of the Diet, Japan’s parliament. “I will deal with the situation with the same sense of crisis as Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike,” he said.
Abe said that the current coronavirus situation is not so serious as to require him to declare a state of emergency, an action allowed under a special law that was revised earlier this month for boosting the efforts for the fight against the new coronavirus.
Economic revitalization minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said that the situation is now about to meet one of the two conditions for declaring a state of emergency, which is that the coronavirus spread is feared to cause serious damage to people’s lives and health.
Meanwhile, he said the other condition has not been met, noting that the country is still not in a situation in which a rapid spread of the coronavirus across the country is having tremendous impacts on people’s lives and the country’s economy.
“We will make an appropriate decision if Japan sees an explosive rise in coronavirus cases and growth in the number of people with the virus whose sources of infection cannot be identified,” he said.
Meanwhile, Koike said at a meeting of the Tokyo metropolitan government’s coronavirus task force on Friday that Tokyo is at “a critical juncture,” warning that the capital faces the risk of an explosive spread of coronavirus cases.
She suggested that the metropolitan government will continue to call on Tokyo residents to avoid nonessential outings at weekends and refrain from going out at night on both weekdays and weekends as part of the efforts for containing the coronavirus.
The task force decided to ask people to avoid parties and cherry blossom viewing at parks and riverbanks managed by the metropolitan government. Some of the paths at Ueno Park, Inokashira Park and Yoyogi Park will be closed for some time.
Members of the task force agreed to make sure that all employees of the Tokyo metropolitan government will telework every day and avoid nonessential outings in principle.