TOKYO – The Japanese government has lifted the state of emergency on Thursday (14 May) in all but eight of the nation’s 47 prefectures, with Tokyo and Osaka remaining on the list of virus hotspots.
The government plans to compile a secondary supplementary budget to offer raised employment subsidies for companies that will cover up to ¥15,000 (US$140) per day in wages
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the country is showing signs of progress, as new patient numbers drop and testing capacity ramps up, but warned of a resurgence if measures are eased too soon.
The decision to lift the emergency declaration was approved by the government panel of infectious disease experts, and comes earlier than the 31 May deadline set in April.
Restrictions are still being maintained in Hokkaido, Tokyo, Chiba, Saitama, Kanagawa, Osaka, Hyogo and Kyoto, where healthcare systems are facing strain and there are fears that potential new outbreaks could spiral out of control. Residents in these areas are being asked to continue reduce interaction by 80% and avoid unnecessary outings.
The government will revisit the lifting of the restrictions in these eight prefectures on 21 May, and people are urged to avoid travelling to or from those prefectures.
Japan has reported over 16,000 coronavirus cases and 700 deaths, as of Thursday (14 May). Tokyo, where the number of cases is highest, reported 10 new patients Wednesday.
In regions where the emergency declaration has been lifted, people are asked to take gradual steps in returning to everyday life, and avoiding non-urgent face-to-face meetings, embracing progressive changes in lifestyle like telecommuting and maintaining vigilance over the coronavirus.
The government plans to compile a secondary supplementary budget to offer raised employment subsidies for companies that will cover up to ¥15,000 (US$140) per day in wages.
Elsewhere, Kobe has tapped artificial intelligence (AI) solutions to help citizens from job matching to food delivery systems and bringing mobile markets to people.
An AI system is being used to match job seekers to tailored employment opportunities in Kobe city. Kobe city is currently working with locally based companies and expects to roll out the system in October.
The city administration is also working with food delivery company Uber Eats to subsidise restaurants to expand delivery services to more remote areas.