Japan lifts state of emergency in most regions

Virus Outbreak Japan Daily Life

Men wearing face mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus take a rest in Tokyo Thursday, May 14, 2020. Japan is still under a coronavirus state of emergency which was extended until the end of May though there have been no hard lockdowns. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

TOKYO — Japan’s prime minister has announced the end of the state of emergency for most regions of the country, but restrictions are being kept in place in Tokyo and seven other high-risk areas, including Osaka, Kyoto and Hokkaido.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday lifted the measure ahead of schedule in 39 of the country’s 47 prefectures, effective immediately.

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Abe declared a month-long state of emergency on April 7 in Tokyo and six other urban prefectures, later expanding it to the whole country through May 31.

With signs of the infections slowing, Abe is seeking to relax restrictions while balancing disease prevention and the state of the economy.

Abe said: “Today is the new beginning for our daily lives, a new normal.” He warned of a likely resurgence of the infections, urging people to keep their guards up.

He said experts will meet again next week to decide if the measure in the remaining areas can be lifted, pledging to bring the coronavirus outbreak under control by the end of May.

Japan now has more than 16,000 confirmed cases, with about 680 deaths. The number of new cases has significantly decreased nationwide.

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