Nishimura: Businesses should boost COVID measures

Japan's minister in charge of the coronavirus response has called on business leaders to make all possible efforts in anti-infection measures in the workplace, as coronavirus cases are on the rise in some regions.

Economic Revitalization Minister Nishimura Yasutoshi made the request during a teleconference with representatives of three major business organizations on Monday.

Nishimura said case numbers are clearly on the rise in Kansai in western Japan, while the number of new cases in Tokyo and its surrounding areas is edging up.

He also said new infections appear to be increasing in prefectures including Miyagi in northeastern Japan and Okinawa in southwestern Japan.

He pointed out that infections at workplaces are slowly increasing.

Nishimura said personnel transfers are common at the start of Japan's new business year in April. He wants companies to refrain from holding welcome parties, and to conduct their job training programs online.

He also said he wants companies to stagger the timing of their transfers.

Nishimura expressed readiness to do all he could to contain the spread of the virus this month and next month.

Koga Nobuyuki, chairman of the Board of Councillors of Keidanren, or the Japan Business Federation, said the rise in the number of infections and trends of the coronavirus variants paint a grim picture.

He said the shift to teleworking should be here to stay.

Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman Mimura Akio called on the government to examine measures implemented in the past. Authorities should decide which measures should remain in place, which should be relaxed, and which should be even more strictly followed.

Mimura called on authorities to flexibly apply the revised law on special anti-virus measures depending on the situation.

The chairman of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives, Sakurada Kengo, noted that at this point, the government has not disclosed details or figures on how much of the budget earmarked to tackle the coronavirus outbreak has been spent.

Sakurada asked the government to fulfill its responsibilities to explain from time to time how effective its measures have been.