Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that he will declare a state of emergency for Tokyo and six other prefectures as early as Tuesday to bolster measures to fight the coronavirus, but that there will be no hard lockdowns.
Abe also told reporters Monday that his government will launch a 108 trillion yen ($1 trillion) stimulus package — Japan’s largest ever and nearly twice as much as expected — to help counter the economic impact of the pandemic, including cash payouts to households in need and financial support to protect businesses and jobs.
Abe said experts on a government-commissioned task force urged him to prepare to declare a state of emergency; with the COVID-19 outbreak rapidly expanding in major cities including Tokyo; and hospitals and medical staff overburdened with patients. He said the state of emergency will cover Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka and four other hard-hit prefectures, and will be in effect for about a month.
The government enacted a special law in March that paved the way for Abe to declare a state of emergency. The law, however, is a divisive one because it could limit civil rights.
Abe said he will hold a news conference on Tuesday to further explain the state of emergency.
The economic package — which amounts to about 20% of the GDP of Japan; the world’s third-largest economy — will pay out 300,000 yen ($2,750) to each household with severe income loss due to the outbreak; and will include 26 trillion yen ($238 billion) to address delays in taxes and social welfare payments, Abe said.