It was still in effect in the capital and four other prefectures. For the government, the infections are under control. Schools and public places reopen. Economy in recession. Migrant workers most affected by the crisis. Premier Shinzo Abe: new stimulus of 850 billion euros.
Tokyo (AsiaNews) - Prime Minister Shinzo Abe yesterday announced the end of the state of emergency for the coronavirus pandemic nationwide. The halt in economic activities and restrictions in circulation were still in force in Tokyo and in the prefectures of Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama, which contribute to one third of the national GDP.
The restrictive measures were rolled out on April 7, and gradually eased over the past two weeks. Japanese authorities believe the virus is now under control. Japan has recorded 17,200 cases of contagion and 853 deaths. With 5100 infected, the metropolitan area of the capital is the most affected.
The government will monitor the health situation in the coming weeks, not excluding the possibility of reintroducing limitations in the event of a new wave of infections. Public places such as bars and restaurants may remain open longer; schools will reopen. The population is however invited to wear masks in public, to maintain a safe distance and to work from home.
The pandemic has dealt a severe blow to the Japanese economy. The country is technically in recession. In the first three months of the year, the economy had a 3.4% decrease on an annual basis. It is the second consecutive quarter with negative growth: in the October-December period last year it registered -6.4%. Analysts' forecasts for the second quarter of 2020 are even worse (-22%).
Hundreds of thousands of layoffs are expected in the coming months. The group most at risk is migrant workers, who usually have fixed-term contracts and are the first to be fired in the event of a crisis. At the end of last year, they were 1.6 million; the government does not disclose data on their employment.
To restore the national economy, Abe promised a stimulus of 100 thousand billion yen (850 billion euros); it follows an earlier intervention of 117 trillion yen (990 billion euro).