Japan worker sentiment improves in May

Japanese economy is showing signs of improvement for the first time in four months. That's in step with the gradual resumption of activity amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The monthly Economy Watchers Survey tracks the sentiment of more than 2,000 workers, such as shop clerks and taxi drivers. The index stood at 15.5 in May. That's up from an all-time low of 7.9 in April.

Figures improved particularly among people in the retail and restaurant industries. Many shops and venues were allowed to reopen after the nationwide state of emergency was lifted last month.

Among the latest businesses to resume operations is Universal Studios Japan in Osaka.

The theme park opened its doors Monday to Osaka residents holding annual passes. Visitors are required to wear masks and undergo temperatures checks.

A female visitor said, "I spent all of the past three months constantly at home, so I built up a lot of stress. I'm here to let it all out."

Starting next week, Universal Studios will lift entry restrictions on residents of five prefectures around Osaka.

People from outside the Kansai region will have to wait a bit longer until they're allowed to visit.

Turning to the latest data on the pandemic in Japan. Officials have reported 18 new cases on Monday, bringing the nationwide total to 17,220. The death toll stands at 919.