Abe in dilemma as coronavirus response could cut both ways
Japan Today -- Mar 09
A legal change this week will allow Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to declare a state of emergency to address the new coronavirus outbreak if he deems it necessary.

But as the total number of infections in Japan surpasses 1,000, including about 700 from a quarantined cruise ship, the new power symbolizes a dilemma for Abe: Bolder steps to curb infections raise the chances of the economy slipping into a recession.

Abe, who faced criticism for being too relaxed in his initial response to the outbreak, has recently taken tougher action. Steps include a closure of schools that took many by surprise and most recently restrictions on visitors from China and South Korea that could severely hit the tourism industry.

"We have been causing great trouble to the Japanese people as we are implementing measures to prevent the spread of new coronavirus infections," Abe told a government task force meeting on Saturday.

Having shut most schools a few weeks ahead of the spring break that precedes the new academic year in April, Abe is following up with support measures for working parents, many of whom will need to take time off to take care of children suddenly at home.

A fresh emergency package to be compiled on Tuesday, meanwhile, will likely include such steps as the launch of a zero-interest loan scheme for small and midsize companies struggling to stay afloat as the virus scare dampens activities.

Sports and music events have been cancelled and popular leisure spots such as theme parks closed to reduce group transmission risks, while many are shunning going shopping or eating out. Some economists say consumers are drawing in their horns even more than in the aftermath of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters of 2011, when a mood of restraint in sympathy for victims slashed spending.

The economy shrank an annualized real 6.3 percent in the October-December period, the sharpest fall since 2014, as a consumption tax hike in that quarter apparently took its toll.

News source: Japan Today
Apr 06
The governor of Tokyo has expressed alarm about the spread of the coronavirus as a daily record of 143 new cases was reported in the Japanese capital on Sunday. (NHK)
Apr 06
Another 143 people in Tokyo were confirmed to be infected with the coronavirus on Sunday. (NHK)
Apr 06
Japan will earmark 1 trillion yen ($9.2 billion) for a reserve fund to fight the new coronavirus pandemic, according to a draft of an emergency economic package being compiled by the government. (Kyodo)
Apr 06
Another police officer in central Tokyo has tested positive for the coronavirus, leading dozens of her colleagues to be put on leave. (NHK)
Apr 05
There has been much talk in Japan recently about the imminent danger posed by an “overshoot,” a word used with no Japanese translation, little context and an apparent disregard for the English language, baffling English and Japanese speakers alike. (Japan Times)
Apr 05
A cluster of 7 infections of the novel coronavirus has been traced to persons who were present at a hostess club in Gifu City last month, the city government has revealed, reports the Asahi Shimbun (Apr. 3). (tokyoreporter.com)
Apr 05
The Japanese government will support a drive to boost production of the flu drug Avigan as a treatment for the novel coronavirus, with the aim of increasing stockpiles to triple the current amount, Nikkei has learned. (Nikkei)
Apr 04
Japan's Prime Minister Abe Shinzo and the main governing Liberal Democratic Party have agreed to give roughly 2,800 dollars to households whose income has fallen to a certain level due to the coronavirus outbreak. (NHK)
Apr 04
The volume of internet data used in Japan jumped 40% in roughly a month, industry figures show, prompting concerns about overwhelming the network. (Nikkei)
Apr 04
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government plans to start moving coronavirus patients with mild or no symptoms out of hospitals and into hotel rooms as early as next week. It aims at vacating hospital beds for a possible surge of more serious cases. (NHK)