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State of emergency begins in Tokyo with almost 2,400 new cases reported

Tokyo has entered a state of emergency

The government said the one-month emergency would run from Friday to February 7 in Tokyo and Saitama, Kanagawa and Chiba prefectures, covering about 30% of the country's population.

Suga's approval ratings have nosedived over his handling of the new wave of infections - particularly his government's controversial backing of a domestic travel campaign despite spiking case numbers.

Nishimura said he agrees with the governors that the situation in their regions is extremely serious.

Japan has declared a one-month state of emergency for Tokyo and three nearby prefectures, following a dramatic rise in coronavirus cases.

Yasuyuki Shimahara, who owns a central Tokyo izakaya specializing in fresh tuna, will close until the state of emergency ends.

For economist Takahide Kiuchi at Nomura Research Institute Ltd., the most likely scenario is a two-month emergency limited to greater Tokyo that causes an 13.1% drop in consumption this quarter and up to a 10% annualized fall in GDP.

In November previous year, the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) Coordination Commission Chair John Coates returned to Japan, for the first time since February 2020, with IOC President Thomas Bach for the Joint International Olympic Committee, International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and Tokyo 2020 Project Review.

The size of public gatherings has been cut - bars and restaurants are being asked to close by 8 p.m.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga conceded that the measures that took effect in the capital region on Friday might also be needed in other parts of the country as infections spread.

Over 2,000 new cases were reported in the Japanese capital for the second successive day
Over 2,000 new cases were reported in the Japanese capital for the second successive day

Residents of the affected areas are also urged to avoid non-essential outings.

Japanese law does not provide for penalties for failure to comply with instructions, even under a state of emergency, but the government is preparing a change in the law that would allow recalcitrant companies to be fined.

But Mr. Suga, increasingly criticized for his management of the health crisis, "is more inclined to (support, editor's note) the economic recovery", knowing that Japan is just recovering from a brutal recession, told AFP economist Masamichi Adachi of UBS Securities.

Meanwhile, events will be capped at 5,000 people or 50% of venue capacity. "Balancing economic and public health concerns is. a very hard situation to manage".

Failure could mean more deaths in a prolonged emergency that goes nationwide, a much bigger hit to the economy and Suga's demise as prime minister later in the year.

"In Tokyo, the daily number of newly confirmed cases came to 2,447, rising above the 2,000 mark for the first time", according to the newspaper.

Pound, who has been on the International Olympic Committee since 1978, predicted 10 months ago in an interview with the Associated Press (AP) that the Games might be canceled because it could not be postponed considering its size.

Japan has yet to approve a coronavirus vaccine, with Suga saying he hopes the first jabs can begin in late February.