Tokyo, Kyoto, Okinawa set to tighten virus steps

Japan's central government will likely allow the governors of Tokyo, Kyoto, and Okinawa prefectures to implement targeted anti-coronavirus measures.

Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide on Thursday announced his intention to allow Tokyo to take such a move, as requested by the governor.

Suga said Tokyo had confirmed more than 500 new cases of infection on Wednesday and Thursday, with the occupancy rate of COVID-19 hospital beds rising.

The government also took into account conditions in Kyoto and Okinawa, such as the strain on availability of hospital beds, and concerns about virus variants.

The government will likely allow intensive measures to take effect from Monday, to be lifted on May 5 in Kyoto and Okinawa, and on May 11 in Tokyo.

The government aims to finalize its plans at a meeting of its taskforce on Friday after consulting with its expert panel and briefing the Diet.

Stricter measures would likely cover all Tokyo's 23 wards and six cities, the nine cities of Okinawa's main island, as well as Kyoto City.

Similar arrangements are already in place in parts of Osaka, Hyogo and Miyagi prefectures.