Welcome to the Reuters.com BETA. Read our Editor's note on how we're helping professionals make smart decisions.
Read more
Sign In
May 13, 20215:44 PM PDTLast Updated a month ago
Asia Pacific
Japan widens virus emergency to three more prefectures
Chang-ran KimElaine Lies

3 minute read
Play video on original page
TOKYO, May 14 (Reuters) - Japan has declared a state of emergency in three more prefectures hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Friday, a surprise move that reflects growing concern about the spread of the coronavirus.
The latest declaration comes as Japan grapples with a surge of a more infectious virus strain just 10 weeks before the Tokyo Olympics are due to start on July 23.
Hokkaido, Okayama and Hiroshima will join Tokyo, Osaka and four other prefectures on Sunday under a state of emergency until May 31, Suga told a news conference, adding that this was due to a rapid increase of cases in those areas.
With an eye on the economy, the government had originally proposed a more targeted "quasi-emergency" declaration for five additional prefectures.
"Experts told us that a state of emergency was needed due to the rapid spread in these areas," Suga said, adding that a stronger message had been needed.
The less stringent measures will be widened to three prefectures as planned.
The latest measures bring 19 of Japan's 47 prefectures, home to about 70% of the population, under curbs such as an 8 p.m. closing deadline for eateries and a ban on alcohol at most bars and restaurants. They also come just over two months before the Olympics, postponed for a year due to the pandemic and now set to start on July 23.
Suga reiterated that the Olympics could be held while ensuring the safety of both athletes and Japanese nationals.
"As for the Olympics, I am aware that there are various opinions (about holding the event) but our priority is stemming the spread of infections and protecting the lives and health of the Japanese people," he added.
Dai-ichi Life Research Institute estimated that the state of emergency in nine prefectures could slash about 1 trillion yen ($9.1 billion) from gross domestic product and cut 57,000 jobs over the coming months.
On Friday, a Reuters poll showed the economy would grow much more slowly than previously hoped this quarter, hobbled by emergency curbs. read more
Japan's Minister in charge of economic revitalisation and measures for the novel coronavirus pandemic Yasutoshi Nishimura attends a news conference in Tokyo, Japan, September 16, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Experts say medical resources are being pushed to the brink, while Japan's inoculation drive has been the slowest among advanced nations, with just 3% of the population vaccinated, according to Reuters data.
Suga's popularity has been hit by what many see as his government's inadequate virus response. A fresh poll by Jiji News put the cabinet's approval rating at 32.2%, down 4.4 points from the previous survey.
The northern island-prefecture of Hokkaido, set to host the marathon, reported a record 712 cases on Thursday. Japan's tally of infections stands at about 656,000, with 11,161 deaths, and Tokyo, the capital, reported 854 new cases on Friday.
The state of emergency in Tokyo and elsewhere would run through this month, leaving fewer than two months until the Olympics.
Public opposition to the Summer Games, already postponed a year from 2020 because of the global pandemic, has persisted.
A change.org petition for cancellation of the Olympics garnered more than 350,000 signatures in just nine days, a record pace for the forum's Japan version, the campaign organiser said.
It was submitted to the chiefs of the Olympic and Paralympic committees, as well as Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike. read more
In a rare and blunt expression of trepidation by a high-profile businessman, SoftBank Group Corp (9984.T) Chief Executive Masayoshi Son said he was "afraid" of holding the Games, fearing for both Japan and the countries sending athletes.
($1=109.5100 yen)
(Global vaccination tracker: https://graphics.reuters.com/world-coronavirus-tracker-and-maps/vaccination-rollout-and-access/​)
Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Sam Holmes
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
More from Reuters
Play video on original page

Read Next
Aerospace & Defense
AirAsia boss says industry could return to normal next year - report
1:38 AM PDT
Asia Pacific
Flower protests in Myanmar for Suu Kyi’s 76th birthday
12:54 AM PDT
Apple Daily editor, CEO denied bail in Hong Kong
12:58 AM PDT
Asia Pacific
United Nations calls for halt of weapons to Myanmar
June 18, 2021

Sign up for our newsletter
Subscribe for our daily curated newsletter to receive the latest exclusive Reuters coverage delivered to your inbox.
Asia Pacific
Asia Pacific · 12:58 AM PDT
Apple Daily editor, CEO denied bail in Hong Kong
Two executives of Hong Kong pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily, charged under a national security law, were denied bail on Saturday in a case that has drawn international condemnation and stoked fears over media freedoms in the financial hub.
Asia Pacific
Flower protests in Myanmar for Suu Kyi’s 76th birthday
12:54 AM PDT
Asia Pacific
Shenzhen airport tightens COVID-19 measures as China logs 30 new cases
June 18, 2021
Asia Pacific
Australia takes wine dispute with China to WTO
June 18, 2021
Asia Pacific
AirAsia boss says industry could return to normal next year - report
1:38 AM PDT
About Reuters
About Reuters
Reuters News Agency
Brand Attribution Guidelines
Reuters Leadership
Reuters Fact Check
Reuters Diversity Report
Stay Informed
Download the App
Information you can trust
Reuters, the news and media division of Thomson Reuters, is the world’s largest multimedia news provider, reaching billions of people worldwide every day. Reuters provides business, financial, national and international news to professionals via desktop terminals, the world's media organizations, industry events and directly to consumers.
Follow Us
Thomson Reuters Products
The most comprehensive solution to manage all your complex and ever-expanding tax and compliance needs.
The industry leader for online information for tax, accounting and finance professionals.
Refinitiv Products
Information, analytics and exclusive news on financial markets - delivered in an intuitive desktop and mobile interface.
Refinitiv Data Platform
Access to real-time, reference, and non-real time data in the cloud to power your enterprise.
Screen for heightened risk individual and entities globally to help uncover hidden risks in business relationships and human networks.
Advertise With Us
Advertising Guidelines
Terms of Use
Site Feedback

All quotes delayed a minimum of 15 minutes. See here for a complete list of exchanges and delays.
© 2021 Reuters. All rights reserved