The Sunday editions of all national dailies wrote that Prime Minister Abe held a press conference on Saturday evening following the enactment on Friday of revised legislation for responding to the coronavirus outbreak. The prime minister stressed that the current situation does not warrant the declaration of a state of emergency given the relatively moderate spread of infection compared with the situation in China, South Korea, Italy, and other countries. While noting that the government’s response appears to have been effective in preventing an explosive spread of the virus, the premier indicated that he will declare an emergency if doing so is deemed necessary to protect people’s lives and health. He stressed that 80% of the symptomatic Japanese patients have only developed mild symptoms and half of those in serious condition have already recovered and been discharged from the hospital.
The prime minister pledged to take robust measures to shore up the Japanese economy since financial markets around the world are reeling as a result of anxiety over the pandemic. “Right now the top priority is to contain the outbreak,” Abe said. “But after that, we will take bold, unprecedented actions one after another so as to put the Japanese economy back on a growth track.” He added that Japan will cooperate and coordinate with the international community, including the United States and the WHO, to deal with the pathogen.
Abe reiterated his administration’s commitment to holding the Tokyo Olympics as planned, saying that he and President Trump agreed during their teleconference on Friday to deepen coordination ahead of the event and did not discuss its postponement or cancellation.
The dailies noted that the prime minister chose to hold a second press conference on the coronavirus situation because he was mindful of public criticism that he has failed to provide sufficient explanations for the GOJ’s controversial requests for the closure of schools and businesses. The papers said the premier was trying to show “compassion” for the many Japanese who are suffering as a result of the measures by offering apologies to the graduates whose commencement ceremonies have been called off and the young athletes who are unable to play in the spring national high school baseball tournament because it has been canceled. He also tried to address public anxiety about the possibility that the new law will greatly restrict civil liberties. He promised to consult with experts in advance if he decides to declare a state of emergency.