Osaka, Hyogo, Kyoto request state of emergency

The governors of Osaka, Hyogo and Kyoto prefectures have asked the central government to expand its state-of-emergency declaration to cover their regions in western Japan.

Economic Revitalization Minister Nishimura Yasutoshi, who is also in charge of the coronavirus response, received the request from the governors on Saturday.

Nishimura told reporters he shares the view with the governors that the situation in the western prefectures has become extremely serious. He said he will consider all possible scenarios and work closely with them.

Nishimura said he asked the governors to take measures that are in line with those already in place in Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures of Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa.

The measures include shortening business hours at restaurants and bars to 8 p.m., asking people to refrain from non-essential outings after 8 p.m., and reducing the number of commuters by 70 percent by promoting telework.

On deciding whether to include the three western prefectures in the declaration, Nishimura said they will look at analysis on the spread of infections, assessment of available hospital beds and other factors while seeking the opinion of experts.

Nishimura said the situation in Aichi and Gifu Prefectures in central Japan is also very serious. He added that Tochigi Prefecture, north of Tokyo, has also reported a rapid increase in the number of infections.