Virus response minister warns of tougher measures

The Japanese minister in charge of the coronavirus response suggested the government could introduce more stringent measures to fight infections under current law.

Economic Revitalization Minister Nishimura Yasutoshi was speaking on an NHK broadcast on Sunday morning.

He underlined a “very difficult situation”, with the government struggling to curb the flow of people into the streets.

He said people get used to the coronavirus and tire of exercising restraint. He said young people are particularly keen to stay active.

Nishimura said the government will try to figure out what it can do under the current law.

Nishimura also said that the National Governors’ Association has proposed that the government put in place emergency coronavirus restrictions nationwide.

He said the government would heed the proposal and consider measures to curb the spread of infections by any means.

Currently, the state of emergency covers Tokyo and 12 other prefectures. Near-emergency restrictions are in effect in 16 prefectures. All these measures run until September 12.

Nishimura said the government will do everything possible to reduce the flow of people by 50% and secure medical services to protect people’s lives.

He said before the emergency restrictions were lifted, the government would consider creating a framework to ease restrictions on those vaccinated.

He said the government’s coronavirus advisory group had previously discussed such a framework.

Panel leader Omi Shigeru said his panel called on the government to try to reduce the flow of people by 50%. He said the current rate is 35% and on an upward trend.

He said he was concerned that people’s activities would increase with the end of the summer vacation season. He warned that the situation would become more serious unless more stringent measures are taken.

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