Japanese leaders press PM to hasten measures

TOKYO (AP) — Aichi, home to Toyota Motor Corp in central Japan, declared its own state of emergency, saying it cannot wait for a slow-moving decision by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government to add the prefecture to an ongoing emergency declared this week.

Aichi Governor Hideaki Omura said one-third of about 300 new coronavirus cases in the prefecture have been confirmed in the past week as the infection spreads rapidly in the region, making it the fifth-most infected prefecture in the country.

“The situation is critical,” Omura said.

“We decided to do everything we can to protect Aichi residents’ lives and health.”

Omura issued a request to all residents to stay home and work remotely until May 6, when the government-issued state of emergency is to end.

A man wearing a face mask stands down a lane in the Chinatown area in Yokohama. PHOTO: AFP

Omura, however, did not request closures of non-essential businesses and facilities for now.

His announcement came just as Tokyo’s outspoken governor, Yuriko Koike, was to request closures of non-essential businesses and facilities in the city after agreeing with Abe’s government that asked her to wait two weeks, apparently to avoid impact on the economy.

Earlier yesterday, leaders of Kyoto, Japan’s ancient capital, urged Abe to add that prefecture to part of the state of emergency to allow them to issue stricter social-distancing measures.

Such actions by local leaders are unusual in Japan and come as Abe faces criticism for slow and lax measures.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters that additional state of emergency declarations in Aichi and Kyoto are not immediately planned.