Coronavirus Asia

Tokyo set to be removed from Japan's travel subsidy as cases rise

Japan's travel campaign has come under fire because of concerns it may be linked to a surge in Covid-19 infections. PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO • Tokyo is in talks with the Japanese government for the city to be temporarily removed from a nationwide travel subsidy programme, Asahi Shimbun reported.

Governor Yuriko Koike told reporters she discussed the issue with Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura yesterday afternoon.

The government wants Ms Koike to temporarily stop people from visiting the city under the programme, and is asking Tokyo to encourage residents to hold off travel to other parts of Japan, the newspaper said, citing a government official familiar with the matter.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's Cabinet has seen its approval rating drop to 40 per cent because of dissatisfaction with the way the government has handled the coronavirus crisis, according to a Mainichi Shimbun opinion poll conducted on Saturday.

The Health Ministry said Japan had more than 3,000 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, which local media said was a record.

Mr Suga's government has doubled down on its bet that promoting domestic tourism will help shore up the battered economy.

But rising virus cases in Tokyo and Nagoya mean the government may halt the "Go To" national travel subsidy campaign to those cities for now. The government is considering suspending the two areas from the programme until Dec 25, Fuji Network News reported.

"We've been discussing the issue and measures with governors of cities with areas designated stage three," Mr Nishimura, who is in charge of coronavirus policy, told NHK yesterday.

Asked if he was considering a suspension of the travel subsidy campaign nationwide, Mr Nishimura said he does not think there are risks in regions where infections have not risen, such as the prefectures of Shimane and Tottori.

Tokyo has already asked people aged 65 and older and those with underlying health conditions to refrain from making trips to or from the capital under the travel subsidy campaign until Thursday.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 14, 2020, with the headline Tokyo set to be removed from Japan's travel subsidy as cases rise. Subscribe