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Japan looks to lift emergency declaration in most regions

34 prefectures set to meet necessary conditions as early as Thursday

Tokyo is among the 13 prefectures designated as requiring "special caution," but many of the remaining 34 have reported no coronavirus cases over the past week or two.   © Kyodo

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The government is considering lifting the state of emergency declaration in most Japanese prefectures this month over the coronavirus pandemic, officials said Sunday, although it will keep urging caution in Tokyo and some other areas.

Out of the nation's 47 prefectures, the government is looking to end the declaration in 34 as early as Thursday if they meet certain conditions such as seeing fewer infections every week and having sufficient medical and monitoring systems, the officials said.

A government panel of experts on communicable diseases is expected to meet Thursday and assess the current situation.

"We're eyeing lifting the state of emergency declaration in many (prefectures)," economic revitalization minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said at a press conference.

Many of the 34 prefectures reported no coronavirus cases over the past week or two, Nishimura said.

The remaining 13 prefectures have been designated by the central government as requiring "special caution" because of their relatively high number of new infections. They are Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba, Osaka, Hyogo, Fukuoka, Hokkaido, Ibaraki, Ishikawa, Gifu, Aichi and Kyoto.

In Tokyo, 22 more infections were reported Sunday following an increase of 36 on Saturday and 39 on Friday. It was the eighth consecutive day that the capital has marked a number below 100.

The emergency declaration, issued by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in April, has prompted local governments to request that residents avoid nonessential outings and some businesses temporarily shut in order to prevent further spread of the virus.

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