Japan expected to lift emergency restrictions in Tokyo

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will lift COVID-19 “state of emergency” restrictions in Tokyo and its nearby prefectures today. The

Tokyo under state of emergency restrictions

Photo: Reuters

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will lift COVID-19 “state of emergency” restrictions in Tokyo and its nearby prefectures today.

The first phase of reopening will allow museums, schools and athletic facilities to resume operations in a reduced capacity, along with some professional sporting events.

Abe approved the move after a government advisory panel weighed reopening criteria including numbers of newly reported cases in the Tokyo area, capacity to provide testing and availability of medical care. Emergency measures have already been lifted in 42 of Japan’s 47 prefectures.

Tokyo’s decision to reopen forms part of a national push to stimulate business activity, after the Bank of Japan launched a new lending facility on Friday that will channel nearly $280 billion to struggling small and midsize businesses.

However, the emergence of new clusters of COVID-19 cases in neighbouring China and South Korea indicates that reopening remains a risky strategy. As the Bank of Japan runs out of options—it is already targeting short-term interest rates below zero—a resurgence of COVID-19 after lessening restrictions would send the world’s third-largest economy further into recession.

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