The Sunday editions of all national dailies gave top play to reports on a three-hour meeting held on Saturday between Economic Revitalization Minister Nishimura and the governors of Tokyo, Saitama, Kanagawa, and Chiba, during which the governors of the four metropolitan prefectures urged the GOJ to declare a state of emergency to deal with the surge in coronavirus cases. The number of new infections in Tokyo has been increasing rapidly, as a record 1,337 people tested positive on Thursday. Tokyo Governor Koike reportedly stressed that the central government must restrict the movement of people given the surge in cases that has put pressure on the medical system in the metropolitan area. Nishimura reportedly said in response that the GOJ will give the governors’ request serious consideration and examine the possibility of declaring a state of emergency.
Nishimura reportedly requested the governors to ask residents and businesses to adopt stricter measures, such as urging restaurants to close at 8 p.m. instead of 10 p.m., calling on residents to refrain from making nonessential outings after 8 p.m., and encouraging more companies to allow employees to work from home. He also suggested asking workplaces and schools to step up their prevention measures against the virus and tightening restrictions on holding large events and gatherings. “We agreed that we are in a severe situation that warrants considering the declaration of a state of emergency,” Nishimura told reporters after the meeting. However, he added that the government needs to consult with its coronavirus expert panel before making a decision.
The papers wrote that Prime Minister Suga is expected to explain his government’s plan for curbing the spread of the coronavirus during his New Year’s news conference on Monday. The papers also wrote that having pledged to strike a balance between virus prevention and the economy, Suga has taken a careful stance thus far on declaring another state of emergency. The papers speculated that Suga will have to make a difficult decision because declaring a state of emergency would likely have a major impact on the economy. The papers noted that the GOJ first declared a state of emergency in April for seven prefectures, including Tokyo and Osaka, before expanding the measure nationwide and then lifting it on May 25.