All national dailies claimed that coordination is underway between the prefectural governments of Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, and Saitama to call for the central government to extend the COVID-19 state of emergency by about two weeks beyond March 7 given that the number of cases has not fallen enough. “Experts suspect that the number of new cases will not decline to a low enough level by the deadline,” Tokyo Governor Koike told the press yesterday. Her Saitama and Chiba counterparts expressed similar views. The four governors will meet remotely today to confirm that they will take a concerted approach to a possible extension.
The dailies separately took up remarks made to the press last night by Prime Minister Suga, who said he will look at the four metropolitan prefectures as a single unit when weighing whether to lift the state of emergency in view of the strong economic connections between them. “I will make a final decision while taking into account the opinions of experts and other relevant officials,” said Suga. “For the time being, we should do our best to prevent infection.” The GOJ is set to convene a coronavirus taskforce meeting on Friday to decide whether or not to lift the declaration.
Meanwhile, Asahi wrote that the Suga administration is wary that Governor Koike appears to be trying to seize the initiative on when to lift the state of emergency even though Suga is keen to end it quickly to make sure that the Tokyo Olympics can be held this summer as scheduled. Mainichi quoted an unnamed senior Kantei official as saying that the declaration will be lifted on March 7 as planned unless a “drastic change” occurs in the infection situation.