TOKYO • Osaka and its surrounding prefectures asked the Japanese government to expand a state of emergency to the western cities in an effort to contain the latest coronavirus outbreak, while Tokyo's new daily infections stayed above 2,000 cases yesterday.
Mr Yasutoshi Nishimura, the economy minister, told the media the situation in the western cities of Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo was severe and the declaration of a wider state of emergency was being considered after a request from governors of the cities.
Japan declared a limited state of emergency in Tokyo and three prefectures near the capital last Thursday to stem a surge in Covid-19 infections.
The government has resisted calls from some experts for wider curbs beyond those imposed in Tokyo because of the economic pain they would cause.
Analysts and officials have warned that the limited, one-month state of emergency targeting Tokyo and neighbouring prefectures could lead to a contraction in economic growth for the current quarter.
Another contraction in April-June, though considered unlikely for now, could become a reality if broader and longer curbs become necessary to slow the spread of Covid-19, some analysts say.
That would push Japan into another recession, defined as two consecutive quarters of economic contraction, following one in the first half of last year.
However, many policymakers say the hit to growth this time will not be as severe as last year's state of emergency, which hurt retailers nationwide and forced many manufacturers to suspend production.
Tokyo reported 2,268 new daily coronavirus cases yesterday, the third straight day above 2,000, according to the public broadcaster NHK.