FILE PHOTO: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declares state of emergency during a meeting of the new coronavirus task force at the prime minister’s official residence in Tokyo, Japan, April 7, 2020. Franck Robichon/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday he had decided to extend the country’s national state of emergency to May 31.
Abe will consider lifting the state of emergency without waiting for its May 31 expiration if expert advisors decide that is possible based on detailed analysis of regional infection trends, he said at a meeting of the government’s coronavirus task force.
He said his advisors said that Japan had not seen the explosive surge in infections seen in some countries overseas, but the number of new infection cases had not fallen enough and there were regions where the medical system was facing strains.
“Based on that view, I will extend the state of emergency that was announced on April 7 until May 31,” Abe said, adding that it would remain nationwide.
For the 13 prefectures including Tokyo and Osaka that have been hardest hit, a target of reducing person-to-person contacts by 80% would remain in place, Abe said.
Japan will move gradually to a framework that will combine prevention of the spread of infections with maintaining social and economic activities, he added.
Even though Japan has not seen a huge outbreak compared with some global hotspots, the coronavirus has infected 15,913 people and killed 542 in the country, according to public broadcaster NHK.
Reporting by Daniel Leussink and Linda Sieg, editing by Ed Osmond