World • 16 April, 2020

Japan to declare nationwide state of emergency amid virus spread

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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has decided to declare a nationwide state of emergency in an attempt to prevent the further spread of the new coronavirus in Japan, a government official said Thursday, Kyodo news says.

Abe has also instructed the ruling party to consider reworking a state budget to deliver 100,000 yen ($930) in cash to all citizens to help them weather the fallout from the pandemic, a government source said.

Abe acquiesced to Komeito, the coalition partner of the Liberal Democratic Party, which broached the idea of a blanket cash distribution plan and called for a rare review of an extra budget for fiscal 2020 that is already set to be submitted to parliament.

Currently, Tokyo, Osaka and five other prefectures are under a state of emergency.

The declaration, based on a revised law enacted last month, has given the governors of the seven prefectures the power to call for school and some business closures until this year's Golden Week holidays end on May 6.

Economists are saying Japan has entered a recession as stay-at-home requests by local authorities and business suspensions are dealing a blow to its economy already hurt by the 2 percent consumption tax hike in October last year.

The government stance has been to seek parliamentary approval next week for the extra budget -- a requisite for launching a scheme to give 300,000 yen to households whose income is deemed to have fallen sharply due to the virus outbreak.

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