WASHINGTON: The novel coronavirus situation in Japan is getting better, Prime Minister SUGA Yoshihide said Saturday before his government decides soon whether to lift the ongoing state of emergency.
“The situation has certainly been turning for the better. We will carry out an analysis again early next week and make a judgment by listening to experts’ opinions,” Suga told reporters accompanying him on a visit to Washington.
The state of emergency, in place in Tokyo and 18 prefectures, is scheduled to end at the end of the month. The government is discussing the advisability of fully removing the emergency and plans to draw a conclusion on Tuesday after examining the degree of strains on medical systems among other factors.
On the leadership election of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party to be held on Wednesday, Suga said it is desirable for candidates to put forward policies and engage in debates.
He was responding to a question about a proposal by regulatory reform minister KONO Taro, one of the four contenders in the election, to create a minimum guaranteed pension financed entirely by tax revenue. Suga, who will step down without seeking re-election as LDP president, has clarified his support for Kono in the election.
Suga said he has no intention at all to accept any request from the incoming prime minister to serve as a cabinet minister.
Regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement, Suga said Japan’s basic position is that a US decision to rejoin the framework is important. The United States abandoned the TPP in 2017 and Japan currently serves as the de facto leader of the 11-nation group.