ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronEye IconIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailPositive ArrowIcon PrintSite TitleTitle ChevronIcon Twitter
Interview

Tokyo cannot bear cost of business closures as COVID-19 cases surge

Gov. Koike says city is considering setting up new coronavirus-focused hospitals

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said that the local government was considering building or using existing facilities to solely treat coronavirus patients in an interview with the Nikkei Asian Review on July 29. (Photo by Akira Kodaka)

TOKYO -- Gov. Yuriko Koike said Wednesday asking restaurants and shops to close will be a "huge burden" for Tokyo's finances as the city faces a second wave of coronavirus infections.

Koike made the remarks in an interview with the Nikkei Asian Review. Tokyo reported another 250 new infections on Wednesday, the 21st consecutive day that its daily count has reached above 100. Koike also said that Tokyo is mulling a new medical facility to deal solely with the resurgence of cases.

On April 11, shortly after the national government declared a state of emergency, Tokyo asked restaurants and shops to close and subsidized those that followed the guidance. It fully lifted the request on June 19.

"At first, we did not know much about the virus and groped in the dark [over how to curb the spread of the epidemic]," said Koike. "Due to the request, many shop owners faced financial difficulties and we had to provide subsidies twice."

Those subsidies were a financial drain on the metropolitan government that had already spent around 95% of its 935 billion yen ($8.9 billion) reserves set aside for emergencies.

Asking businesses to close again will be a financial drain on Tokyo, Gov. Koike said on Wednesday. (Photo by Akira Kodaka)

Koike said asking businesses citywide to close again will lead to "a huge financial burden," if Tokyo had to offer subsidies.

"We need a more strategic approach," Koike said. This could mean that the Tokyo government may request specific sectors or areas to close, if the need arises.

Like cities across the world, Tokyo also wants to stimulate the economy and has encouraged residents to eat out, while bearing in mind social distancing and hygiene measures.

The metropolitan government is handing out stickers to restaurants that can demonstrate that they have imposed strict hygiene standards like constantly disinfecting surfaces. "We have already handed out more than 70,000 stickers to restaurants," said Koike.

Koike is also considering doctors' suggestions to build medical facilities that solely treat coronavirus patients. She said on Wednesday that it would be "effective" to secure such facilities to protect Japan's medical system. She said the local government was mulling whether to build new COVID hospitals or to use existing ones, and the size of such facilities.

Koike said Tokyo will still host the Olympic Games next summer. "The metropolitan government is discussing items including simplification of the games," said Koike. "Now, we have to focus on the countermeasures against the coronavirus, so as to welcome athletes and spectators as a host city next year."

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 1 month for $0.99

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends July 31st

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media