Japan lifts coronavirus emergency in Tokyo, all other remaining areas

Japan appeared to have the novel coronavirus epidemic well-contained but by March 24, when the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo were called off, the virus was spreading fast, forcing the country to call a state of national emergency.

Abe said that the total amount of stimulus from two economic packages would exceed 200 trillion yen ($1.86 trillion) but it would still take considerable time to get back to normal life while controlling infection risks.

Japan lifted a state of emergency for Tokyo and remaining areas still facing restrictions on Monday.

Social distancing curbs had been loosened for most of the country on May 14 as new infections fell, but the government was keeping Tokyo and four other prefectures under watch.

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The Japanese PM had imposed the emergency on April 7 in Tokyo and six other regions as the number of COVID-19 cases began to increase, it was later extended to other parts of the nation.

Abe lauded Japan's success in flattening the curve but warned the lifting of the emergency did not mean the end of the outbreak, urging people to continue to avoid the "three Cs": closed spaces, crowded places and close contact.

The world's third-largest economy has escaped an explosive outbreak with more than 16,600 infections and 839 deaths so far, according to NHK public broadcaster.

Although, the country had begun to take off the restrictions since last week but the government chose to make the decision after looking at the cases in Tokyo and northern Hokkaido which were the hardest hit due to the virus. A recent survey for the Asahi Shimbun suggested his backing had dropped to 29 per cent, the lowest since he took office in 2012. Subsequent stages would see theaters, cinemas and fairgrounds reopen.

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Citizens largely heeded the orders, with most of Tokyo's famously packed streets falling quiet, and the number of new infections has fallen from a peak of around 700 per day to just a few dozen nationally.

The government is expected to approve the budget, which will also include subsidies to help companies pay rent and wages as they close businesses, at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

Another $250 billion (27 trillion yen) will be set aside for other financial aid programmes, including $139 billion (15 trillion yen) for a new programme to inject capital into ailing firms, the Nikkei reported.

Japan's economy slipped into recession in the last quarter, and analysts expect another 22% contraction in April-June due to the hit from the health crisis.

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