Japan to extend coronavirus state of emergency

The Japanese government plans to extend the coronavirus state of emergency in 19 prefectures, including Tokyo and Osaka, through September 30.

The move comes ahead of the September 12 expiration of the state of emergency for 21 prefectures and quasi-emergency measures for 12 others.

Among the prefectures under the emergency declaration, Miyagi and Okayama will be put into quasi-emergency measures.

Quasi-emergency steps are expected to be kept in six prefectures through September 30, while they will be lifted in the prefectures of Toyama, Yamanashi, Ehime, Kochi, Saga and Nagasaki.

The government is considering easing restrictions on certain conditions regarding the hours when restaurants and bars are allowed to serve alcoholic drinks in areas where quasi-emergency measures are applied.

Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide on Wednesday discussed the matter with Economic Revitalization Minister Nishimura Yasutoshi, who is in charge of the government's coronavirus response, and other concerned ministers. After the meeting, Suga told reporters that the government will make a decision while keeping an eye on the situation of the medical system and other factors.

The government will listen to opinions of a panel of infectious disease and other experts on Thursday to seek their agreement. The government will make a formal decision after reporting the plan to the Diet and a question-and-answer session there.