Japan is set to lift the state of emergency for Tokyo and four neighboring prefectures imposed last month at the height of the coronavirus outbreak.
Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said a special coronavirus panel approved a plan to lift the decree for the Japanese capital and its surrounding areas after the number of new infections began trending downward.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will officially lift the emergency Monday.
The prime minister initially declared a 30-day state of emergency on April 7 for Tokyo and six other prefectures, including the central port city of Osaka, as the number of COVID-19 infections began to rise. Abe extended the measure nationwide just a few days before it was set to expire, then gradually lifted it as the outbreak appeared to ease. The decree was initially set to expire on May 31.
Japan has reported just over 16,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infections with just over 800 deaths, a situation that has overwhelmed the country’s healthcare system, sent its economy into recession and forced it to postpone the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games for a year. Prime Minister Abe’s approval ratings have also plunged to record lows due to his apparent slow response to the pandemic.
The emergency declaration stopped short of imposing a legally binding nationwide lockdown, due to Japan’s post-World War II constitution, which weighs heavily in favor of civil liberties.