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Japan lifts Covid-19 state of emergency, eyes new stimulus package

Japan lifts Covid-19 state of emergency, eyes new stimulus package
Japan is ending its Covid-19 state of emergency after a drop in infection numbers, and is considering a stimulus package worth more than $900 billion.

The government earlier ended restrictions on economic activity in 42 of the country’s 47 prefectures, and has now opened up the remaining five regions, including Tokyo.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said: “We did not enforce restrictions with punitive measures, but we have been able to bring the outbreak under control in just a month and a half.”

“I would like to say that we were able to show the strength of the Japanese model,” he added.

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The country had been in a state of emergency since April 7. To cope with the financial downturn, the government is now pushing for a new stimulus package, worth around 100 trillion yen ($926 billion). A new budget is also expected to be announced, including subsidies to help companies pay rent and salaries.

The pandemic has triggered a recession in Japan, which some analysts are predicting will be the worst since World War II. Questions have been raised over the government’s handling of the crisis, with Abe’s approval rating slipping below 30 percent.

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Despite ending the state of emergency, Abe has urged the public to continue wearing masks, maintain social distancing, and work from home if possible.

The government is also outlining a transitional period, in which infection numbers will be reassessed every three weeks.

In the meantime, music venues and gyms remain closed due to the high risk of infection. Japan has so far registered 17,200 cases of the coronavirus, with 853 deaths and 13,413 recoveries.

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