Govt. eyes state of emergency for Tokyo area

Japan's Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide is eyeing a major step to contain rising coronavirus cases in Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures. He said the government is considering declaring a state of emergency for those areas.

Prime Minister Suga also told a news conference on Monday that the details will be decided quickly to reduce the risk of people getting infected while dining out.

Government officials said the declaration could happen as early as this week.

The measure will apply to Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba prefectures as well as the capital.

A state of emergency gives governors the legal authority to ask residents to cooperate with their anti-virus efforts.

Currently, there are no penalties for failing to comply. But Suga said the government will propose a legal revision this month to change that.

The government declared a similar state of emergency nationwide last April that lasted for over a month.

Tokyo Governor Koike Yuriko and other governors had requested the move on Saturday. She said the central government reacted fast.

"Tokyo and the three prefectures will work effectively and as one on measures on transportation, working from home and staggered business hours. We'll be cooperating closely with the central government."

Koike said she's doing her utmost to prepare for the declaration.